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Sudan Denounces Security Council Resolution

Sudan denounced a U.N. Security Council (search) resolution that gave the government 30 days to stem ethnic violence in the western Darfur region or face sanctions, saying Khartoum (search) needed international help, not threats.

Sudan said the resolution, passed 13-0 on Friday, violates a previous agreement with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan (search), in which it promised to crack down on the militias who have killed thousands of people and forced more than 1 million to flee in Darfur.

"Sudan expresses its deep sorrow that the issue of Darfur has quickly entered the Security Council and has been hijacked from its regional arena," Information Minister El-Zahawi Ibrahim Malik said in a statement.

But the violence has continued despite a cease-fire called in July and Sudanese promises of a crackdown. The three African countries on the council -- Algeria, Angola and Benin -- backed the U.S.-sponsored resolution.

"We believe that the international community cannot be passive and indifferent to the ongoing humanitarian crisis ... or to the horrendous crimes committed against the civilian populations," Algeria's U.N. ambassador Abdallah Baali told the council on behalf of the three countries.

The 17-month-old conflict over dwindling resources has led to some 30,000 deaths in a western region the size of Iraq that has a population of about 6 million. The United States didn't specify what sanctions might be considered but said the council issued a tough warning to Sudan to rein in the militias, known as Janjaweed.

The resolution demands that Sudan disarm the Arab militias and requires states to prevent the sale or supply of weapons and ammunition to individuals and groups, including the Janjaweed, operating in the Darfur region.

The document was adopted after extensive debate over the use of the word "sanctions," which the United States removed from its final version after several countries objected to the explicit threat. The United States and other supporters, however, insisted the threat of sanctions remained.

"The resolution in stern and unambiguous terms puts the Sudanese government on notice," U.S. Ambassador John Danforth said. "Sudan must know that serious measures -- international sanctions -- are looming if the government refuses to do so."

Though it was angered by the resolution, Sudan promised to abide by its July 3 agreement with Annan. Sudan defended its efforts and said what it really needed from the international community was more humanitarian assistance.

"We will do the right thing in spite of the way we have been treated," Sudan's U.N. Ambassador Elfatih Mohamed Erwa told The Associated Press.

China and Pakistan, which abstained, insisted the Sudanese government was trying to rein in the pro-government Arab militias accused of slaughtering thousands in a brutal campaign to drive out black African farmers. The U.S. Congress has called the killings genocide.

China "hopes and believes that the government of Sudan will continue to actively honor its commitments," including disarming the militias, said the Chinese deputy ambassador, Zhang Yishan.

Instead of relying on the threat of sanctions, the resolution refers to Article 41 of the U.N. Charter, which authorizes measures including "complete or partial interruption of economic relations and of rail, sea, air, postal, telegraphic, radio, and other means of communication and the severance of diplomatic relations."

The resolution requires Annan to report to the Security Council every 30 days on Sudan's progress.

The Darfur conflict stems from long-standing tensions between nomadic Arab tribes and their African neighbors over water and farmland. Those tensions exploded into violence in February 2003 when two African rebel groups took up arms over what they regard as unjust treatment by the government. Both sides are Muslim.

France, Spain, Britain, Chile, Germany and Romania co-sponsored the resolution.