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US seeks sanctions on 4 Sudanese over Darfur

Written by: Staff

UNITED NATIONS, Apr 19: The United States circulated a UN resolution that would impose sanctions on four Sudanese accused of rights abuses in Darfur, seeking to force a vote over Russian and Chinese objections.

Beijing and Moscow on Monday had blocked the imposition of a travel ban and assets freeze on the four men, a proposal distributed to all 15 UN Security Council members by a council sanctions committee.

US Ambassador John Bolton then decided the full council should vote on a resolution, which would force Russia and China to veto, consent or abstain.

''What I'd like is unanimity, obviously, not a veto, so I'm prepared to have consultations and discussions and that's appropriate,'' Bolton told reporters yesterday.

''But I'm also prepared to proceed. We think the moment is right to implement these sanctions,'' Bolton said.

No vote has been scheduled and the Security Council intends to discuss the US draft today.

The Security Council approved a resolution in March 2005, calling for a freeze on assets overseas and a travel ban on individuals who defy peace efforts, violate human rights or conduct military overflights in Darfur. Russia and China were among countries which abstained.

The four men, whittled down from a longer British list, include one Sudanese Air Force general in Darfur, one well-known pro-government militia leader and two rebel commanders.

The men's names were not included in Bolton's draft resolution but diplomats identified them as: -- Maj-Gen Gaafar Mohammed El-Hassan of the Sudan Air Force who until this year commanded Darfur's western military region; -- Sheikh Musa Hilal, paramount chief of the Jalul tribe in North Darfur and a known leader of the ''Janjaweed'' pro-government militia responsible for widespread abuses; -- Gabril Abdel Karim Badi, commander of the rebel National Movement for Reform and Development (NMRD); -- Adam Yacub Shant, a commander of the rebel Sudan Liberation Army; Russian and Chinese ambassadors, who oppose sanctions on principle, have said that now was not the time to impose the bans because of ongoing peace talks on the Darfur conflict in Abuja, Nigeria.

African Union mediators have set an April 30 deadline for a cease-fire pact in the talks, which have lasted two years.

The Darfur conflict erupted in early 2003 when mostly non-Arab tribes took up arms accusing the Arab-dominated Khartoum government of neglect.

The government retaliated by arming mainly Arab militia, known as Janjaweed, who began a campaign of murder, rape, arson and plunder that drove more than 2 million villagers into squalid camps in Darfur and in neighboring Chad. Khartoum denies responsibility.

Salim Ahmed Salim, the Africa Union mediator for the talks, told reporters after briefing the council that ''sanctions can be an effective instrument in conveying the message, particularly for those who are spoilers of the peace process.''


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