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Sanctions will hurt Darfur peace efforts, says gov't

3/31/2005 10:54am

NAIROBI, 31 Mar 2005 (IRIN) - The UN Security Council’s decision to sanction Sudan for failing to end conflict in the western region of Darfur will have a negative effect on current efforts to bring peace and stability to the country, a Sudanese minister said on Wednesday.

Mustafa Uthman Isma'il, Sudan’s minister of foreign affairs, was quoted by the official Sudanese news agency, SUNA, as saying that the Council’s latest resolution undermined the capacity of the armed forces, making it difficult "to ensure the protection of civilians, as well as confronting rebels and militias."

The Council’s resolution, passed on Tuesday, called for assets to be frozen and a travel ban imposed on those believed to be impeding the peace process, or committing human-rights violations in Darfur. The resolution also expanded a previous arms embargo to include the Sudanese government.

Stuart Holiday, US representative to the UN, said in a statement following the Council’s decision that he hoped the resolution would contribute to the end of the violence in Darfur, and to the successful conclusion of the Abuja peace talks.

Isma'il, however, described the resolution as unbalanced, and said it would have a negative impact on the implementation of the peace agreement in the south, as well as the security situation in Darfur.

He further said the resolution would also affect the resumption of peace talks in Abuja, as it would send the wrong message to the rebels.

Sudan’s government has since set up a committee to examine the resolution, which includes the foreign, defence, interior, justice and humanitarian affairs ministries, according to Isma’il. This committee will apparently submit to the government its recommendations on how to deal with the Council’s decision.

A statement released by the Sudanese foreign ministry on Wednesday said that the government aimed to work in partnership with the international and regional community to lift any sanctions imposed on Sudan. It was considering its moral and legal responsibilities towards its people in all states of the country, and would spare no efforts to make peace a concrete reality, the statement added.

SUNA reported that the Sudanese government regretted that the resolution came at a time when the country was working to translate the southern peace agreement into reality. The implementation of the peace agreement, signed on 9 January, would contribute to the resolution of conflicts in other regions of the country.

The war in Darfur pits Sudanese government troops, and militias -allegedly allied to the government - against rebels fighting to end what they have called marginalisation and discrimination of the region's inhabitants by the state. Over 2.4 million people continue to be affected by the conflict, 1.85 million of which are internally displaced or have been forced to flee to neighbouring Chad.

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