Tougher Actions Loom Over Darfur

The United State and Britain are threatening tougher actions and stiffer sanctions against Sudan over its reluctance to allow UN peacekeepers and address the humanitarian crisis in its western region of Darfur.

Tougher Actions Loom Over Darfur

The UnitedState and Britainare threatening tougher actions and stiffer sanctions against Sudan over its reluctance to allow UNpeacekeepers and address the humanitarian crisis in its western region of Darfur, the Guardian reported on Thursday,March 15.

"I think what is important is that we put thisback on the agenda of the international community and the SecurityCouncil," British Prime Minister Tony Blair told a joint press conferencewith African Union chairman and Ghanaian President John Kufuor in London.

"We must show we are prepared to take toughaction if the situation doesn't change," he insisted.

"What is happening in Darfuris unacceptable. It is scandalous indeed in terms of the suffering of thepeople there and we cannot let this slip back down the internationalagenda."

The same message was made across the Atlantic by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

"It is simply the case that the Sudanesegovernment needs to recognize that the international community can't stand idlyby while people suffer," Rice said.

"We are indeed looking at other options,including options that might require further UN action."

The mooted stiffer sanctions would include a broaderUN arms embargo applying to the whole of Sudanrather than just Darfur as well as targetedsanctions against a longer list of people and organizations linked to theviolence.

The US and Britain are expected to startlobbying for the new sanctions package in the UN Security Council and in theEU.

Analysts believe the momentum for tougher actioncame after Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir backed away from an earlier dealwith the UN to deploy a 20,000-strong peacekeeping force in Darfur.

"He's now not only going back on his word tothe US, but also to China, Russia and his Africanallies," said Alex Meixner of the Save Darfur coalition.

China, considered the main defenders of Sudan on the international stage,has dismissed Beshir's decision on the UN force as "disappointing".

Coalition

In addition to the possible UN action, the United Statesis planning its own "Plan B".

Andrew Natsios, President George W. Bush's specialenvoy for Darfur, told several human rights groups Wednesday that theadministration was preparing its own package of economic sanctions against Sudan.

Natsios said the sanctions could includerestrictions on companies that do business with Sudan in US dollars.

He cited plans to impose travel bans on andconfiscate the assets of three individuals in Sudan,two politicians and a rebel leader accused of committing atrocities in Darfur.

Senior USofficials said last month that Bush had approved a three-tiered package offinancial and other sanctions, which include blocking US bank transactions connected to the Sudangovernment and its oil sector.

Washington is also considering a "no-fly zone" over Darfur, officials said.

The UN Human Rights Council this week accusedBeshir's government of orchestrating crimes and human rights abuses inwar-ravaged Darfur, while criticizing theworld's failure to protect civilians.

However, the 57-member Organization of IslamicConference has vowed to stop the UN body from considering the report.

It insists that a new UN mission should beappointed, with members approved by the Sudanese government, so that humanrights violations in Darfur can beinvestigated properly.

Khartoum had refused to grant visas to the six-person team, led byNobel peace laureate and anti-landmines campaigner Jody Williams, accusing someof its members of bias.

One team member, Indonesia'sambassador Makarim Wibisono, withdrew when he failed to get access to Darfur.

Source: Agencies
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