The United States and other world powers should impose sanctions on key members of the Sudanese government for refusing to end violence in Darfur and south Sudan, a report by an anti-genocide group said today.
Sudan’s UN Ambassador Abdalmahmoud Abdalhaleem reacted angrily to the report, calling the Enough Project, a Washington-based anti-genocide group, "war mongers."
The Enough Project’s report said there was a risk of a new civil war and warned that nationwide elections next year and a 2011 referendum on whether the oil-rich and semi-autonomous south should secede from the Khartoum-led north would not be free and fair.
The report placed the bulk of the blame on the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) of Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who was indicted in March by the International Criminal Court for suspected war crimes in Sudan’s remote western region of Darfur. The report called for sanctions.
"Without a firm response from the international community, led by the United States, full-scale nationwide war is inevitable," said the report, written by Enough Project co-founder and former US State Department and National Security Council official John Prendergast.
"This should involve a special outreach effort to China because of the vulnerability of its oil investments should war resume in the South," the report said. "The United States must, then, organize and lead a multilateral diplomatic surge in Sudan aimed at negotiating and consolidating national peace."
It recommended "multilateral asset freezes aimed at key members of the NCP who have enriched themselves as a result of the oil boom of the last decade in Sudan." The report also supported travel bans and denying Khartoum access to the debt relief it has been lobbying for.
Sudan’s UN envoy Abdalhaleem rejected the report.
"Those war mongers and war traders are in a race with time to stop the peace train which is already moving to its destination," he told Reuters. "Their report exposes their bankruptcy and the fact that realities on the ground defeated their sick mentality."
The head of Save Darfur, a separate coalition of more than 180 religious, political, and human rights organizations, backed the main conclusions of the Enough Project report.
"Coordinated multilateral action is crucial to promoting peace in Sudan, and that action has to deal with the reality that the core of the problem is the ruling National Congress Party’s seeking to maintain its domination of power and wealth," Save Darfur president Jerry Fowler told Reuters.
"It is difficult for me to see how a strategy that doesn’t include pressure could succeed," he said.
Behind the complaints of Darfur activists is disappointment with US President Barack Obama’s administration, which took nearly 10 months to formulate and announce a new Sudan policy that they worry, is not being implemented aggressively enough.
That strategy calls for renewed US economic sanctions on Sudan, but also offers Khartoum new incentives to end violence in Darfur and the South ahead of polls next year.
The former head of the UN-African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur said earlier this year that the six-year conflict in Darfur was essentially over.
But that assessment was contradicted by a recent report of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who said that fighting between the Sudanese army and rebels continued, civilians remained at risk, and peacekeepers were routinely harassed by government forces.
UN diplomats and analysts say China’s opposition to UN sanctions on Khartoum remains steadfast. Beijing holds a veto on the UN Security Council, which means it has the power to block any resolution imposing UN sanctions on Khartoum.
They also warn that a 2005 peace deal between the North and South that ended a two-decade civil war is unravelling.
The United Nations says more than 2 million people were driven from their homes and some 300 000 people died in the Darfur crisis, although levels of conflict have fallen since the mass killings of 2003 and 2004. Khartoum puts the death toll at 10 000.