- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 8, 2001

Members of Congress yesterday introduced a bill that would require the Bush administration to track the sources of Sudan's oil revenue and publicly condemn the Khartoum regime for human rights abuses, including slavery and the bombing of civilians.

"We have a new administration and, I pray, a new attitude toward the issue [of Sudan]," Rep. Tim Tancredo, Colorado Republican, said yesterday at a news conference.

The Sudan Peace Act "condemns the government of Sudan's overall human rights record, with regard to both the prosecution of the war and the denial of basic human and political rights to all Sudanese," the lawmakers said.

In an effort to involve the Bush administration, the bill would require the president to report on Sudan's sources and current status of oil revenues, the extent to which oil financing was secured in the United States, the extent of aerial bombing of civilians and the extent of obstruction of humanitarian relief by Khartoum.

"Khartoum is now using oil revenues to finance their terror in the south, which underscores the immediate need for the United States government to become increasingly involved in facilitating an end to this war," Mr. Tancredo said in a news release.

"With over 2 million dead, and millions more homeless, starving and enslaved, America must not continue to turn a blind eye to the atrocities in Sudan," he said.

The measure also seeks collaboration between the United States and the United Nations in overseeing humanitarian relief flights and making sure that measures be taken to provide relief should the U.N.-sponsored flights be banned again.

The Sudan Peace Act is similar to one passed by the House last year that died in the Senate.

Since 1983, Sudan's predominantly Christian and animist southerners have been battling the nation's Muslim north seeking greater autonomy. An estimated 2 million Sudanese have died and 4.4 million are displaced by the fighting.

Mr. Tancredo, and Rep. Donald Payne, New Jersey Democrat, who also sponsored the bill, urged the United States to use "all means of pressure available" to resolve the war, including multilateral peace negotiations and the continuation of humanitarian aid to the hungry southerners.

Mr. Payne emphasized the importance of sanctions currently in place on Sudan to control oil importation and investment of the revenues that support the Sudanese army.

"This is the only way to control the government," Mr. Payne said.

The international attention given to the issue of Sudan has been minimal, the lawmakers said.

"I don't want to think it's because it's in Africa," Mr. Tancredo said. All involved in the bill speculated that people got used to bad news coming from the continent.

"Somalia was an explosion; Sudan is an erosion," Mr. Payne said about the level of interest from the international community in Sudan.

"Just the passage of this act will not bring peace," but "this is a step … to ending this horrible, horrible genocide," Mr. Payne said.

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