U.S. Seeks U.N. Sanctions Against Four in Sudan
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
UNITED NATIONS, April 18 -- The Bush administration asked the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday to adopt a resolution imposing a travel ban and asset freeze on four Sudanese nationals, including a senior Sudanese military officer and a militia leader accused of massive human rights violations in the Darfur region of Sudan.
The move marked the first time that the 15-nation council has considered a resolution to punish select individuals accused of killing tens of thousands of civilians and driving as many as 2 million people from their homes during a three-year campaign of violence.
It also set the stage for a potential showdown with Russia and China, which oppose sanctions, on the eve of a Thursday meeting between President Bush and Chinese President Hu Jintao.
China's U.N. ambassador, Wang Guangya, said Beijing is concerned that sanctions could undermine peace talks between Sudan and Darfur's main rebel groups underway in Abuja, Nigeria. But he dismissed the prospect that the dispute would strain talks between the two leaders at the high-level summit. "This is a minor issue," Wang said.
U.S. Ambassador John R. Bolton said sanctions would boost the credibility of the council in confronting those who oppose peace. "The council ought to come to a decision to impose sanctions in the very near future," he said.
The violence in Darfur began in early 2003, when two Darfurian rebels groups took up arms against the Islamic government in Khartoum, alleging mistreatment of the region's black tribes. In response, the government recruited, equipped and trained an Arab militia, known as the Janjaweed, to mount a violent campaign against communities suspected of supporting the rebels. As many as 100,000 to 400,000 people have died from the violence and disease, according to estimates by U.N. officials and independent experts.
The Security Council decided a year ago to impose targeted sanctions on individuals responsible for the violence in Darfur and set up a sanctions committee to consider candidates.
Britain recently introduced a list of eight names of Sudanese nationals, including a number of senior government officials, that should be subject to U.N. sanctions. But the United States and others said there was insufficient evidence to implicate some senior Sudanese officials.
The United States, Britain, France, Denmark, Argentina, Slovakia, Peru and Japan subsequently proposed sanctions against a narrowed list of four individuals. But China and Russia blocked agreement in the sanctions committee, prompting the administration to press for a vote on the resolution.
The U.S. draft does not name the individuals. But diplomats said they include Musa Hilal, leader of the Janjaweed militia; the rebel Sudanese Liberation Army commander Adam Shant; and Gibril Badri, leader of another rebel group, the National Movement for Reform and Development. The fourth is described as a Sudanese Air Force official.