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U.S. Urges U.N. to Keep Pressure on Sudan

Danforth accuses the regime of attacks and expresses frustration at hesitation on sanctions.

September 03, 2004|Maggie Farley | Times Staff Writer

UNITED NATIONS — U.S. Ambassador John C. Danforth on Thursday accused the Sudanese government of direct attacks on its own people just a week ago and urged a divided Security Council not to ease the pressure on the regime to stop the violence in the Darfur region.

Danforth challenged a U.N. envoy's report that the Sudanese government had not been involved in attacks in Darfur in the last month, calling that information "flat-out wrong." He cited an African Union Ceasefire Commission report that documented an Aug. 26 attack by two government helicopters against villages in Darfur.

Jan Pronk, the U.N.'s special representative for Sudan, told the Security Council on Thursday that the government had made "some progress" in curtailing militia attacks on villages in the Darfur region but still had much to do to resolve what the United Nations has called the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

Pronk did not discuss the possibility of imposing sanctions but focused instead on an expanded international presence in Sudan. His evaluation satisfied Sudanese Ambassador Elfatih Mohammed Ahmed Erwa, who called it "balanced."

Erwa said his government would accept "any number" of international monitors and their protectors as long as they were limited to an observer role.

"We are not opposing more monitors and protection forces. We think they will help stability," he said. "What we are opposing is peacekeeping forces or forces coming to disarm militias."

Sudan promised two months ago to rein in the militias, known as janjaweed, which have been attacking civilians in Darfur. Critics charge that the fighters have been acting as surrogates for the government as it tries to put down a rebellion in the region that began last year. The U.N. estimates that more than 30,000 people have been killed in the conflict.

Danforth, a former U.S. special envoy to Sudan, was clearly frustrated by what he saw as Sudan's partial compliance and the Security Council's reluctance to impose economic or political sanctions on the leadership.

Concerned that Sudan "will do its usual job of trying to float through this thing," Danforth said that more international troops and monitors should be sent to Sudan as soon as possible to ensure that the regime fulfills its commitments.

The African Union has already dispatched 305 Rwandan and Nigerian troops to protect about 80 cease-fire monitors. Danforth and Pronk urged that new forces from the union -- as many as 4,000 troops and police officers -- be mandated to protect civilians. "The citizens of Darfur have absolutely no confidence that the government of Sudan will protect them, and therefore the presence of substantial numbers of monitors -- substantial numbers -- is absolutely essential," Danforth said.

The U.S. is considering proposing a new Security Council resolution that would require Sudan to accept a larger international presence and would renew the threat of sanctions.

Leaders of three relief organizations called Thursday for intensified pressure and more aid to prevent the disaster in the Darfur region from spreading.

"If there is not a major increase in food availability, of clean water and medicine, then October, November and December look very dire indeed," Charles MacCormack, president of Save the Children, said in a telephone briefing.

"What is really essential is that the key European states act in a unified way," MacCormack said. "The Sudanese have a history over the years ... of looking for gaps in the international community and taking advantage of them. If the U.S. was seen as unilaterally putting on pressure, and others were not, that would not be the right solution."

Times staff writer Emma Schwartz in Washington contributed to this report.

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