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UN Threatens Sanctions Sgainst Sudan over Darfur Crisis

The United Nations Security Council adopted a resolution on Friday threatening sanctions against Sudan if it fails to disarm the marauding Arab militia in the troubled western Darfur region and prosecute its leaders.

The resolution, however, was rebuffed by the Sudanese government.

The document was passed by a vote of 13-0, with abstentions from China and Pakistan. It required UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to report in 30 days, and monthly thereafter, to the council on Sudan's compliance with the demands.

The resolution said the council would "consider further actions, including measures as provided for in Article 41 of the Charter of the United Nations, on the government of Sudan, in the event of non-compliance."

Under Article 41, the council may call upon UN member states to interrupt economic, transport, communications and diplomatic relations with certain countries in order to implement its resolutions.

   The US-drafted resolution was co-sponsored by Britain, Romania, Germany, France, Spain and Chile. It asked world governments to impose immediately an arms embargo on the Arab militia, known as the Janjaweed, which has been accused of brutal attacks on black Africans in Darfur.

The resolution also urged the Sudanese government and the Darfur rebel forces to conclude a political agreement "without delay" and called on the rebels -- "the Sudan Liberation Army" and"the Justice and Equality Movement" -- to observe the April truce.

Darfur is currently dubbed as a site of the world's worst humanitarian crisis. It has been plagued by a 17-month conflict between the Sudanese government and the two rebel forces which demanded autonomy for the largely black African region.

In response, the pro-government Janjaweed and other militias went on rampage, carrying out what aid and rights agencies called a brutal and systematic campaign of ethnic cleansing.

Human rights groups estimate that the militia's attacks and the government-rebel conflict has left up to 30,000 people dead, some 1 million internally displaced and more than 2 million people in desperate deed of humanitarian assistance. Another 150,000 Sudanese are taking refugee in neighboring Chad.

Annan, who is currently on a trip to his native country Ghana, welcomed the passage of the resolution. A statement issued by his spokesperson Marie Okabe in New York said he "looks forward to the swift and sustained implementation" by Sudan of its commitments.


Hours after the UN Security Council endorsed the resolution, Sudanese Information Minister Al-Zahawi Ibrahim Malik said in a statement that "Sudan announces its rejection of the Security Council's misguided resolution."

"Sudan expresses its deep sorrow that the issue of Darfur has quickly entered the Security Council and has been hijacked from its regional arena," Malik said.

The resolution "does not conform with the agreements signed between the government and the United Nations," he said, adding that the government was capable of "disarming all the looting and robbing gangs."

"The Security Council's resolution ... concentrates on the Janjaweed more than it concentrates on the aiding of those affected in Darfur and the prosecution of the other militias that continue to perpetrate atrocities," Malik said.

Elfatih Erwa, Sudan's UN ambassador, accused Washington of using its seat in the Security Council to turn a humanitarian crisis in Darfur into its political advantage in the US election campaign.

Sudan has accused the rebels of killing more than 1,400 civilians since signing a ceasefire in early April and of slowing the delivery of aid to the region.


Sudan's rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) welcomed the UN resolution and urged the international community to act immediately against Khartoum rather than wait 30 days.

"Thirty days is too long," said JEM's Abu Bakr Hamid al-Nur. "Villages are burning. People are killing."

"If there's no pressure from the international community, the Sudan government will do nothing," he said.

The resolution places an immediate weapons embargo on all armed groups in Darfur, where government forces and Arab militia have been battling a rebellion by some African tribes. But Sudanese security forces, accused of protecting the Janjaweed, are excluded from the arms ban.


Not all countries and organizations regard the UN resolution as the best solution to the Darfur crisis.

Secretary General of the Arab League Amr Moussa has said he opposed threats of sanctions against Sudan because they would achieve nothing and only worsen the situation in Darfur.

"Threatening Sudan with sanctions or the use of force is totally useless and will only exacerbate the situation," Moussa said.

Sudan is a member of the Arab league.

Chinese Deputy Ambassador to the United Nations Zhang Yishan said that threatening to take mandatory measures against Sudan is "not helpful in resolving the crisis in Darfur and may further complicate the situation."

China "hopes and believes that the government of Sudan will continue to actively honor its commitments," he said, adding that the council should listen to the African Union (AU) as it attempted to settle the Darfur dispute.

In another development, Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, the current AU chairman, said Friday in Ghanaian capital Accra that the regional bloc would send more troops to Darfur.

Asked about the Khartoum government's likely response to the deployment of further foreign forces in Darfur, Obasanjo replied: "Sudan is not rejecting the deployment of African troops."
(Xinhua News Agency July 31, 2004)

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