- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 9, 2006

Pressure from Sudan

Sudan’s top diplomat in Washington is calling on the Bush administration to pressure two rebel groups that refused to sign last week’s peace accord aimed at ending ethnic violence in the Darfur region of the African nation.

Khidir H. Ahmed, the charge d’affaires at the Sudanese Embassy, denounced the leaders of the Justice and Equality Movement and a dissident faction of the Sudanese Liberation Army (SLA) for rejecting the agreement on Friday. The SLA, the largest rebel movement in Darfur, signed the pact.

“If they continue to balk at supporting the peace accord, we hope that the international community, particularly those in the U.S. who called for peace and justice, will condemn them and call for measures against those groups and individuals that will attempt to undercutting the peace accord,” Mr. Khidir said. “Their refusal to participate is clearly an attempt to punish the victims in Darfur.”

The agreement calls for disarming militias, incorporating rebels into the national army and sharing power among Sudan’s ethnic groups. The government has been blamed for stoking the conflict, which erupted two years ago when Darfur rebels attacked police and military bases and the government responded by arming Arab militias that are accused of wanton killing of black African civilians. President Bush has denounced the government for genocide.

Mr. Khidir noted that the government and the SLA made concessions to reach the deal after days of nonstop diplomacy by Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick. Mr. Khidir, in a statement this week, thanked Mr. Zoellick, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Mr. Bush for their efforts to promote peace in his country.

He said their “constructive engagement” contributed “a great deal to this significant achievement, and our people will remain grateful for that.”

Mr. Khidir added that the next test is the implementation of the agreement.

“We hope that responsible individuals in the U.S. will demonstrate the same zeal in supporting the implementation of the peace agreement, bolstering the African Union mission in Darfur, funding food aid and other assistance projects and condemning those who refuse to support the peace process, as they did when they criticized my government and promoted actions that regularly undercut peace and reconciliation in Sudan,” he said.

Mr. Khidir has repeatedly complained about congressional efforts to punish the Sudanese government for the Darfur conflict that has taken an estimated 200,000 lives and displaced nearly 2 million people.

Mr. Bush on Monday urged Congress to approve his request for $225 million in emergency food aid for Darfur and called on the United Nations to send peacekeepers to the region to supplement the 7,200 troops from the African Union.

Criticizing Kuwait

The U.S. ambassador to Kuwait yesterday criticized the Persian Gulf kingdom for denying “basic rights” to hundreds of thousands of foreign workers, including many domestic servants.

“All workers, Kuwaiti and expatriate, both in the formal sectors of the economy and in households, need to be treated with fairness,” Ambassador Richard LeBaron said at a forum in Kuwait City.

“Let me be clear. I am not talking about special rights. I am referring to basic rights — to be paid an agreed wage on time, to control one’s passport, to have some means of effective recourse in disputes and to have shelter available when needed.”

Of Kuwait’s population of 2.9 million, only 970,000 are citizens. Foreigners make up 82 percent of the work force, and 453,000 of those are employed as domestic servants.

The State Department’s latest human rights report notes that many unskilled foreign workers are “treated as indentured servants” who “frequently face poor working conditions and, at times, encounter physical or sexual abuse.”

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@washingtontimes.com.

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