Sudan: US using Darfur crisis

Washington is using the Darfur crisis as a pretext to topple the Sudanese government, Khartoum's envoy to the African Union (AU) has said.

    The UN says Darfur is the world's worst humanitarian crisis

    Uthman al-Said also told reporters on Tuesday that a western military

    intervention in Sudan's remote western region would risk splitting

    Africa's largest country and unsettling its neighbours.

    "The US government is using the crisis in Darfur to bring

    down the government of Sudan," he said on the sidelines of a

    meeting on Darfur of the 53-state AU's peace and security

    council.

    His remarks were the latest attempt by Sudan to compare

    outside criticism over Darfur with US-led pressure on Iraq

    before the war which ousted Saddam Hussein and was opposed by

    Arab states.

    "The policy of the government of Sudan is not liked by the

    US administration so the Americans are targeting the

    government of Sudan because of its political stance," he said,

    indicating Sudan's position on prominent Arab

    issues such as Iraq and the Israel/Palestinian dispute.

    Washington, which says its concerns in Darfur are purely humanitarian,

    is expected to call a UN vote this week

    threatening Sudan with sanctions over

    Darfur, where the UN says one million have been displaced and

    30,000 more killed.

    Sanctions vote

    The European Union on Monday called on the United Nations to

    consider imposing sanctions on Sudan if it

    does not neutralise the situation in Darfdur

    .

    Arab countries have come out against the sanctions plan.

    Egypt said on Tuesday that imposing sanctions on its southern neighbour would be damaging and should be avoided.

    President al-Bashir has warned
    against military intervention

    Foreign Minister Ahmad Aboul Gheit said: "

    While we understand the aspects of concern

    in... getting Darfur out of

    this situation, we underline the importance of avoiding the

    concept of sanctions and threatening sanctions, because this

    will damage the situation and complicate aspects of this

    matter."

    And attacking what he said was a British contingency plan to

    send troops to Darfur, Sudan's al-Said said western military intervention

    could lead to the fragmentation of the country.

    "This in turn could

    destabilise the nine countries neighbouring the Sudan," he said.

    British Prime Minister Tony Blair has said the world must

    act on Darfur and has not ruled out a British military role, al

    though he was vague about what that meant.

    Australia says it

    could send troops as UN peacekeepers.

    AU mediation

    Referring to the statements of both countries, al-Said said:

    "It shows that these countries did not learn from the difficult

    situation they are facing through their intervention in Iraq."

    He said the AU, the two-year-old successor to the former

    Organisation of African Unity, should be allowed to mediate a

    solution in concert with an East African peace forum called the

    Intergovernmental Authority on Development.

    "The US government is using the crisis in Darfur to bring

    down the government of Sudan"

    Uthman al-Said,
    Sudan's African Union envoy

    "If the newly born AU fails then it could be considered a

    failure of Africa as a whole, because Sudan is a microcosm of

    Africa," al-Said

    said.

    Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, current AU chairman,

    will talk to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and other African

    leaders on peace initiatives in Sudan and Ivory Coast on

    Thursday.

    The AU is trying to revive stalled peace talks between the

    warring parties.

    It had been hoping to send 270 troops to

    protect 60 AU ceasefire observers in Darfur by the end of July,

    but the organisation says the effort may be delayed by

    logistical difficulties.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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