>By Mark Turner at the United Nations, Guy Dinmore in Washington and Andrew England in Nairobi
>Published: April 5 2006 23:55 Last updated: April 5 2006 23:55
US opposition may force Britain to remove any Sudanese government officials from a first list of names slated for United Nations sanctions over war crimes in Darfur.
Diplomats said on Wednesday that the list would be circulated shortly to the UN Security Council. If there were no objections it would be adopted 48 hours later.
But as of Wednesday an original British proposal to list eight people had been whittled down to two – one Darfur rebel and one government-backed “janjaweed” militiaman – after it was found that one of the individuals had died, and Washington failed to give a green light for the others to be included.
Indicating differences within Washington, a Bush administration source said the State Department was pushing very hard to include more names on the list but there was resistance from other US agencies, including the Treasury.
Benjamin Chang, spokesman for the US mission to the UN, insisted that whatever names emerged only constituted “a first step” in bringing those responsible to justice. “There is a process of making sure all the necessary information is gathered.”
A senior US official said the US was willing to co-operate with the International Criminal Court on bringing to justice those responsible for genocide, even though the US was not a party to the ICC. But there are concerns among diplomats that a failure to include Sudan government officials in its first salvo will open the Security Council to charges of weakness before Khartoum’s continued intransigence.
There is a fear among diplomats that the UN is fast losing even what tenuous grip it had over the situation.
Jan Egeland, the humanitarian chief, was this week denied entry to Darfur and the UN’s peacekeeping department dare not apply for visas for an assessment mission, for fear of rejection.
The current round of peace talks is expected to achieve little. And there are indications that the African Union could backtrack over plans to replace its mission in Darfur with UN peacekeepers in September.
Even if the US and the UK agree a joint list, China said on Tuesday that now was not the time to impose sanctions, and is likely to be backed by Qatar and Russia.
Hedi Annabi, a senior UN peacekeeping official, told the Council on Tuesday that April seemed set to be “another month of spiralling violence” in Darfur, as military activities by rebels, government-backed militia and government forces continued unabated.
There are also growing clashes across the border in Chad.