- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 22, 2002


President Bush signed a get-tough-on-Sudan resolution yesterday meant to prod the government of Africa's largest nation toward ending a 20-year-old war that has killed some 2 million people.

The measure formally condemns human rights violations, accuses the Sudanese government of using food as a weapon and directs the president to impose sanctions against Sudan if he determines its government is not negotiating in good faith.

The government of Sudan signed an agreement with rebels last week to suspend fighting during talks to end their 20-year-old war. The cease-fire paved the way for the government to lift a ban on relief flights to the southern Equatoria region.

Known as the Sudan Peace Act, the resolution carries a variety of possible penalties against Sudan if it negotiates in bad faith. The sanctions could include a downgrade of diplomatic relations, a U.N. arms embargo and attempts to deny the government use of its oil revenues. Mr. Bush signed the bill in the Roosevelt Room, with former Sen. John Danforth, Missouri Republican, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, and Sudanese religious and community leaders in attendance.

It would authorize $300 million over the next three years for peace efforts money Congress would have to provide in separate legislation.

Since 1983 some 2 million people have died in Sudan's civil war between the Arab-dominated Muslim government and black Christians and animists seeking greater autonomy for the south. Terrorist leader Osama bin Laden lived in Sudan under the protection of the Muslim government for years.

"The signing of the Sudan Peace Act into law represents an important step forward on the road to peace for Africa's longest civil war," said Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, Texas Democrat and chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus.

"The Sudan Peace Act maintains the pressure on the warring parties to resolve their conflict, demonstrates the continued interest of the United States in finding a lasting peace in this troubled nation and provides desperately needed assistance for the people of southern Sudan," Mrs. Johnson said.

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