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UK, US call for sanctions against 4 Sudanese over Darfur

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April 12, 2006 (UNITED NATIONS) — The U.K. and the U.S. called for sanctions Wednesday against four Sudanese who have blocked peace efforts and violated human rights in the conflict-wracked Darfur region.

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A displaced Sudanese man looks at his destroyed house after militiamen burnt the Sereaf village, in west Darfur along the Sudan and Chad border, April 22, 2005. (Reuters).

But Russia said it wants to study the list, warning that it could aggravate the fragile peace process.

Britain sent the list to the chairman of the Security Council committee in charge of sanctions against Sudan. Under council rules, if no country objects in 48 hours, the sanctions will take effect but because of the Easter Holiday the objection period has been extended until Monday.

Since freezing financial assets are involved, the U.K.’s U.N. Ambassador Emyr Jones Parry said, the names won’t be disclosed until the sanctions take effect, hopefully on Monday.

If the sanctions are approved, they will be the first against any participants in the Darfur conflict, which has left about 180,000 dead over the last three years - most from disease and hunger - and displaced another 2 million from their homes.

A Security Council resolution adopted in March 2005 authorized an asset freeze and travel ban on individuals who defy peace efforts, violate international human rights law, or are responsible for military overflights in Darfur.

A U.N. panel that investigated the Darfur conflict recommended last year that 51 people be prosecuted for war crimes, including senior government officials. But until now, council members haven’t been able to agree on any names to put on a U.N. sanctions list.

"What we’re going to do today is the start of a process," Jones Parry said. "I join with .... the United States in putting forward today four names representing a balanced package."

U.S. Ambassador John Bolton said the list is "really a down payment on what we expect will be additional sanctions."

"Our investigation and consideration of other possible individuals continues," he said.

Other council members, including Argentina, Denmark, France, Japan, Peru and Slovakia, also support the list, council diplomats said.

Decades of low-level tribal clashes over land and water in the Darfur region erupted into large-scale violence in early 2003 when ethnic African tribes took up arms, accusing the Arab-dominated central government of neglect. The government is accused of responding by unleashing Arab tribal militias known as Janjaweed to murder and rape civilians and lay waste to villages - a charge it denies.

Council diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity because the list has not been released, said the four names proposed for sanctions include one member of the Sudanese government, two rebel figures, and one member of the Janjaweed.

Seven rounds of peace talks in Abuja, Nigeria since August 2004 have yet to yield a breakthrough to end the fighting, but there is optimism that a new round which started Monday may yield results.

In a statement Tuesday, the Security Council demanded that the Sudanese government and rebels reach agreement by April 30 to end the conflict in Darfur and reaffirmed its determination to hold accountable those blocking peace and violating human rights. It stressed that "an inclusive political settlement is key to peace in Sudan."

When asked whether Moscow supports sanctions, Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Andrey Denisov said: "Human rights abuses should be judged, it is clear."

"But at the same time, (the) political process should not be interrupted, and it is very fragile in Sudan, and any additional aggravations can play negative role in that process. So let’s wait ... and see who’s on that list," Denisov said.

(ST/AP)

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