Monday, October 02, 2006

US finally steps up pressure on Sudan

WASHINGTON, Sept. 27 — Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Wednesday raised the threat of more international sanctions against Sudan if the government did not stop military operations in the Darfur region and unconditionally accept a United Nations peacekeeping force.
“If the Sudanese government chooses confrontation — if it continues waging war against its own citizens, challenging the African Union, undermining its peacekeeping force, and threatening the international community — then the regime in Khartoum will be held responsible, and it alone will bear the consequences,” Ms. Rice said during a speech to the Africa Society.
“The international community must make clear to the leaders of Sudan that this is the choice they face,” she said.
The 53-nation African Union has about 7,200 peacekeeping soldiers in Darfur and was scheduled to hand over its task to a larger United Nations force in September. But President Omar Hassan al-Bashir has fiercely opposed such a move, and in the meantime, the union has announced that it will send more troops to the region while pressure on him continues.
The union force has not had much success in stopping violence in Darfur that has continued despite a cease-fire in May. Ms. Rice was blunt during her speech, laying the blame for the bloodshed at the feet of Mr. Bashir’s government.
“Citing attacks by rebels in the area, the government of Sudan recruited a tribe of Arab nomads, known as the janjaweed, who have long resented the Africans of Darfur,” Ms. Rice said. “Funded, armed and encouraged by the Sudanese government, the janjaweed attacked village after village in Darfur — torturing and executing the men and the boys; beating and raping the women and the girls.”
Ms. Rice challenged Mr. Bashir’s authority to refuse the United Nations peacekeeping force. “We cannot, we will not, accept Sudan’s opposition,” she said. “Since the Sudanese government will not save the lives of its own people, then the United Nations must act.”

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