African Union commanders are clinging to the hope that their peacekeeping troops can quell the increasing violence in Darfur, saying it's time for Africans to solve the continent's problems. But they also caution that without more international support, their mission could fail as the bloodshed worsens.
Many observers have criticized the understaffed and ill-equipped AU force of 7,000, saying it has done little to stem the violence in the Sudan's western region, about three quarters the size of Texas. They say only a UN force can palliate the AU's inefficiency, weak mandate and lack of resources.
But Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has staunchly rejected a UN Security Council resolution calling for a stronger UN peacekeeping force to replace the AU troops in Darfur. Instead, he allowed the AU's mandate to be extended until the end of the year.
The AU said it has 3,000 more troops ready to come to Darfur - but not the money to bring them - and many of the mission's soldiers remain optimistic that their force will prevail.
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