April 21, 2006 (UNITED NATIONS) — The U.S. will seek a Security Council vote early next week on a resolution to slap the first-ever sanctions on participants in the Darfur conflict in western Sudan, U.S. officials said Friday.
- Musa Hilal
The U.S. will push ahead with the bid to sanction four men despite opposition from Russia and China, said Richard Grenell, spokesman for the U.S. mission to the United Nations.
The four men who face sanctions have not been named publicly. But diplomats identified them as Gaffar Mahammed Elhassan, former commander of the Sudanese air force’s western region; Sheikh Musa Hilal, chief of the Jalul tribe in North Darfur; Adam Yacub Shant, a commander in the rebel Sudan Liberation Army; and Gabril Abdul Kareem Badri, a rebel commander in the National Movement for Reform and Development.
Russia and China say that the sanctions might complicate Darfur peace talks in Abuja, Nigeria, where negotiators are working to beat an April 30 deadline for a deal.
U.S. officials said they hope to ease the Russian and Chinese concerns - and counter the possibility that they could cast vetoes and sink the resolution - by having the council approve a statement expressing support for the Abuja talks.
Tanzania circulated a draft of that statement late Friday. It would be considered for approval by the council at the same time as the sanctions resolution, possibly Monday or Tuesday.
China’s U.N. ambassador, Wang Guangya, was unavailable for comment Friday because he was traveling. But on Thursday, he said he still believed the timing was not right for the U.S. sanctions proposal.
"We believe that the resolution like this might harden the positions of some of the parties to the negotiations," he told reporters then.
The U.S. introduced the sanctions resolution on Tuesday, minutes after the top African Union mediator at the Abuja talks said the warring factions have their best chance yet to reach a peace deal by April 30, though none of the sides have offered major concessions so far.
U.S. Ambassador John Bolton had said he would wait to hear the Russian and Chinese arguments before deciding when to seek a vote. He was apparently unconvinced, and on Friday, the draft was submitted to the council in a final form that can be put to a vote.