|Africa News Digest
Sudan Turns Back French Attempt To Interfere in Darfur
June 11 (EIRNS)Sudanese Foreign Minister Lam Akol today turned down a French effort to launch a new initiative to host a meeting of key nations on June 25 to deal with the conflict in the Darfur region, after meeting French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner in Khartoum, according to Reuters. Kouchner arrived yesterday from Chad, for a two-day visit.
Lam Akol said the timing was not right, and that his country preferred to await the outcome of African Union and United Nations efforts to get peace talks back on track and put together a peacekeeping force for Darfur.
"At this particular time when we are ... waiting for the roadmap ... to be announced, we don't want any distraction," Akol said today. "We think that ... the time may not be opportune for that meeting,"
The UN, African Union, and the Sudanese government are meeting today in Ethiopia to work out details of a hybrid force to help restore order in Darfur.
Since President Nicolas Sarkozy took office, France has taken a more active stance towards intervening in the Darfur region. Before his trip to Africa, Kouchner had been pushing the idea of establishing corridors from Chad into Darfur, ostensibly for aid deliveries. On June 3, Chad turned down this idea, but after meetings in Chad, before arriving in Sudan, Chad's position has reportedly softened.
After meeting Kouchner yesterday, Chad President Idriss Deby said: "We are agreed on the principle of deploying a force, but there are still some points to resolve, on which we must agree. The results of the discussions will be made public before the 25th of this month. The discussion will be on the formula of this force." Chad has repeatedly asked for help with conflicts stemming from refugees coming into Chad from the Darfur region of Sudan, but had always insisted that any international force on its own territory should be made up of police and gendarmes, not soldiers.
The French Foreign Ministry, as well as international news organizations, play up Kouchner's role as one of the founders in 1971 of the humanitarian organization "Doctors Without Borders." However, no mention is ever made of the fact that he has had nothing to do with the organization since 1979. The reason Kouchner is that he has had public disagreements with the organization on such issues as the right to intervene and the use of armed force for humanitarian reasons. Kouchner is in favor of the use of armed force, whereas Doctors Without Borders only wants impartial humanitarian action, independent from all political, economic, and religious powers. The only time Doctors Without Borders has ever agreed with armed intervention, was during the genocide in Rwanda.
Bush Threatens Sudan with Sanctions If UN Fails To Act
June 7 (EIRNS)After meeting with British Prime Minister Tony Blair this morning before the G-8 meeting, President Bush threatened that he would take his own line of action against Sudan, if the UN failed to take sufficient action on Darfur, according to a Xinhua report today. "I will be stressing, along with Tony [Blair], the need for nations to take action," said Bush.
"If the UN won't act, we need to take action ourselves, and I laid out a series of sanctions that I think hopefully will affect [Sudanese President Omar] al-Bashir's behavior."
Bush is also pushing for a new, tougher UN Security Council resolution to impose sanctions on Sudan.
Bush's remarks came just one day after Sudan's Foreign Minister Lam Akol said that "the imposition of sanctions is definitely going to harm the peace process as well as the Darfur people." He spoke at a video conference broadcast from Khartoum, at Washington's National Press Club. "The first casualty of these sanctions, coming at the time that they did, is the peace process," he said, adding that the sanctions are scuttling efforts "that are meant to bring about the peaceful resolution of the problem in Darfur."
"Definitely everybody is perplexed and surprised as to why such a decision would come at this particular time when we are about to finalize what was asked of all of us to do," Akol said.
Lam Akol (who was an anti-government fighter from the South before the South's peace agreement with the government) accused the United States of obstructing efforts of the international community to resolve the crisis in the western Sudanese region of Darfur. "The U.S. took the decision on the sanctions to create confusion that obstructs the efforts of the international community for finding peaceful solution for the Darfur problem," he said.
He said that the recent U.S. decision on the sanctions had encouraged the Darfur rebel movements to boycott the peace negotiations with the government. He urged the Darfur rebel movements to unify their positions so that the peace negotiations could be resumed as soon as possible, welcoming any positive initiative from other countries in this regard.
Sudan Ambassador: Bush Sanctions 'A Death Sentence'
June 8 (EIRNS)Eight of the 31 companies in Sudan that have been targetted for unilateral economic sanctions by the Bush Administration, are involved in agriculture or the food supply. On May 29, President Bush announced sanctions on three named Sudanese individuals, and 31 companies, consisting of a ban on doing business with any U.S. company or bank. The eight are: Arab Sudanese Blue Nile Agricultural Company; Arab Sudanese Seed Company; Arab Sudanese Vegetable Oil Company; Guneid Sugar Company Limited; New Halfa Sugar Factory Company Limited; Sennar Sugar Company Limited; Sudan Gezira Board; and Sudanese Sugar Production Company Limited.
The Gezira Board relates to one of the most productive agriculture regions in all of Africa. Four sugar companies are targetted. Sudanese Ambassador to the U.S., John Ukec Lueth Ukec, during a June 2 interview on the weekly Internet radio program, The LaRouche Show. (audio on www.larouchepub.com/radio/archive_2007.html) called the action "a death sentence" (see this week's InDepth for the interview).
Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson gave as the reason for the broad sweep of companies targetted: "These companies have supplied cash to the Bashir regime, enabling it to purchase arms and further fuel the fighting in Darfur."