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New U.N. Darfur Sanctions Passed

By Nick Wadhams
Associated Press
Wednesday, March 30, 2005; Page A10

UNITED NATIONS, March 29 -- The U.N. Security Council Tuesday imposed an asset freeze and travel ban on people who defy peace efforts in Sudan's Darfur region in a resolution that also aims to limit the flow of weapons into the conflict-wracked area.

The resolution passed 12 to 0, with Algeria, Russia and China abstaining.

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Q&A: Darfur A brief explanation of the issues and current humanitarian situation in Western Sudan.
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The vote is the latest step in drawn-out Security Council efforts to confront the Darfur crisis. The number of dead from a conflict between government-backed militias and rebels in the region is estimated at 180,000.

Last week, the council unanimously approved a resolution creating a peacekeeping mission in Sudan. The peacekeepers will monitor a peace deal that ended a 21-year conflict unrelated to Darfur, but the council hopes it will also help Darfur move toward peace.

The council must still confront the most contentious issue of all: how best to punish war criminals in the Darfur region. Several council members want the cases referred to the International Criminal Court, a body that the United States opposes.

Sudan's U.N. ambassador, Elfatih Erwa, criticized the sanctions resolution, saying it was orchestrated by the U.S. Congress.

"We don't like the council to take a series of resolutions that are not wise and might make this situation worse," Erwa said. "The more sticks you bring to solve this problem, you are not going to solve this problem. You are going to make it more complicated."

Early on, the council had hoped to deal with all those issues in one resolution. But because agreement could not be reached, the United States decided to split the issues into three resolutions and deal later with the other two issues.

However, after the Americans presented their resolution on peacekeepers last Wednesday, France put forward a resolution calling for prosecution of Sudanese war crimes suspects before the International Criminal Court.

France and several other members of the council had always demanded that all the issues be dealt with at once, not piecemeal as the United States proposes.

The French move would force the United States to choose between accepting a body it opposes or casting a politically damaging veto.

That is because the United States demanded swift action last year after declaring that genocide had occurred in Darfur, and does not want to appear to be holding up the process.

French officials said they planned to put forward their resolution on Wednesday at the earliest.

Conflict has engulfed Darfur since February 2003, when two non-Arab rebel groups took up arms against the Arab-dominated government.


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