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U.N. council OKs resolution to act on Sudan crisis

U.S. says sanctions still possible if Darfur violence isn't stopped

From Jonathan Wald

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U.N. threatens sanctions against Sudan for atrocities in Darfur

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UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- The U.N. Security Council has voted overwhelmingly in favor of a resolution implicitly threatening to impose sanctions if the government of Sudan does not stop atrocities in Darfur after 30 days.

Sudanese Minister of the Interior, Abdul Rahim, told CNN his country objected to the resolution but could not reject it.

The foreign minister of Sudan, Dr. Moustafa Osman Ismail, said the government would mobilize all of the state apparatus to implement their obligations within a month.

Thirteen members of the Council voted for the resolution, with China and Pakistan abstaining.

"This is the last thing we wanted to do," U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Danforth said, "but the government has left us with no choice."

"It's time to start the clock ticking on the government of Sudan," he said.

Elfatih Mohammed Ahmed Erwa, Sudan's ambassador to the United Nations, criticized the resolution for failing to recognize "improvements on the ground" and for pre-judging efforts by Sudan and the African Union to resolve the conflict peacefully.

"The intention is there, the will is there, it's the pre-judging I'm worried about," Erwa told CNN.

A senior State Department official said the United States has been urging the African Union to prepare a protection force to be ready to move into Sudan if no progress is seen in the 30 days.

The official said the African Union is meeting now on the issue.

The vote came after United States on Thursday dropped the word "sanctions" from its draft resolution on Sudan, but maintained sanctions are still possible against the Sudanese government if it does not comply with commitments it made earlier in the year to control the crisis in the Darfur region.

Danforth said the word "sanctions" was objectionable to certain council members.

He made clear, however, that the changes in the resolution are "simply a matter of nomenclature" and the threat of full economic and diplomatic sanctions remains.

Zhang Yishan, the deputy Chinese ambassador to the U.N. told the Security Council "these measures are not helpful" and "may further complicate the situation in Sudan."

After the vote, French President Jacques Chirac announced that France would send some troops to the Darfur region, but only in a humanitarian capacity.

A statement from the presidential office in Paris said about 200 French troops already stationed in neighboring Chad would assist in humanitarian efforts, and French military planes there would be used to transport aid.

The resolution says the council "expresses its intention to consider further actions, including measures as provided for in Article 41 of the Charter of the United Nations."

Article 41 states the council may decide on "complete or partial interruption of economic relations" and "the severance of diplomatic relations."

One of the principal humanitarian groups in Sudan was disappointed by the resolution.

"The only thing the U.N. Security Council has delivered is yet another month-long delay," said the agency, which asked to remain unnamed.

"This watered-down resolution contains no urgency and offers precious little help to the people of Darfur."

Danforth defended the revised resolution, saying, "it takes no teeth out of it."

The resolution calls upon the Sudanese government to fulfill promises made in a communiqué with the United Nations on July 3.

Sudan pledged to disarm and prosecute pro-government Arab militias, known as the Janjaweed, who have brutally attacked black African farmers in Darfur, a region of western Sudan about the size of France.

The conflict in Darfur began last year when black Sudanese rebels attacked government property, accusing the government of neglecting Darfur in favor of the Arab population in Sudan.

The government responded by setting up the Janjaweed to put down the rebellion.

The senior State Department official said the United States believes Khartoum can still control at least 80 percent of the Janjaweed, and estimated there were between 6,000 and 12,000 members of those militias in Sudan.

The official said it was the Sudanese government that let the "genie out of the bottle" by arming the Janjaweed.

Danforth said Sudanese officials "created this monster" and "it's their responsibility to control it."

Human rights groups estimate 15,000 to 30,000 civilians have been killed and more than 1.2 million people have been left homeless.

Danforth told the Security Council between 240 and 440 people are dying in Darfur every day.

The United Nations has described the Darfur conflict as the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

Jan Egeland, the United Nations' emergency relief coordinator, warned the Security Council in June that a coordinated "scorched earth" campaign of ethnic cleansing was taking place in Darfur.

Both chambers of Congress unanimously passed a non-binding resolution on July 22, condemning the mass killings in Sudan as genocide.

"This [Security Council] resolution has been determined before it got here, it was determined in the United States Congress before it was discussed here," Erwa said.

In 30 days, the council will meet again to discuss if further action against the government is needed.

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