- The Washington Times - Friday, September 10, 2004

NEW YORK — The Sudanese government yesterday rejected the Bush administration’s charge of “genocide” as election-season rhetoric, while U.N. diplomats sought to increase international monitoring of Sudan’s Darfur region.

“They should not use a humanitarian problem for a political agenda,” Sudanese Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail said during a visit to South Korea yesterday.

“We know that an election is going on. We know the political parties, the Republicans and Democrats, are competing for the votes of African Americans.”

On Thursday, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee the administration had concluded that “genocide has been committed in Darfur” by the government and the government-backed Janjaweed militia, “and genocide may still be occurring.”

U.S. diplomats are urging the United Nations Security Council to impose sanctions on Sudan’s oil exports unless the government ceases the killing, rape and intimidation that has displaced an estimated 1.2 million black Africans in western Sudan.

The government and the Janjaweed militia are predominantly Arab. The victims in Darfur are members of African tribes that practice Islam mixed with traditional animist beliefs.

A draft resolution sponsored by the United States calls for an immediate halt to the fighting in western Sudan and an increase in monitors from the African Union (AU). Failure to comply with terms of the resolution would trigger sanctions on Sudan’s oil exports.

“Sudan is a major disaster,” U.S. Ambassador John Danforth said yesterday. “I think all members of the Security Council agree that they want to encourage the presence of AU monitors in Darfur, [because] if outsiders are there in great numbers it would chill the willingness of the government” to attack civilians.

U.S. officials say they expect the resolution to come to a vote sometime next week, but acknowledge its passage will not be easy.

China, Russia, Pakistan, Algeria and other council members oppose sanctions on Sudan’s oil industry, which is operated, in part, under a contract with China’s state oil company.

Sudan’s U.N. ambassador, Elfatih Erwa, said yesterday that his government welcomes monitors from the African Union, including their armed escorts, but only if the AU deems it necessary.

“We believe that this is only an AU issue, not a U.N. issue,” Mr. Erwa said. “If [AU monitors] want to come in today, we say ‘come yesterday.’”

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