Home | News    Wednesday 11 October 2006

US Lawmakers urge Arab League to intercede over Darfur

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Oct 10, 2006 (WASHINGTON) — Lawmakers from both chambers of the U.S. Congress sent separate letters Tuesday to the head of the Arab League asking him to urge Sudan to stop attacking the residents of the embattled Darfur region and to allow the United Nations to send peacekeepers.

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Sudan FM Lam Akol and Arab League SG Amr Musa (SUNA)

The letters, sent to Arab League Secretary-General Amr Musa, said time was running out for the residents of Darfur, a region where fighting between rebels and government-backed militias and government forces have left more than 200,000 dead and another 2.5 million displaced.

The letters, signed by all 100 senators and 174 of the House of Representatives’ 435 members, urged Moussa to "employ all diplomatic means available" to encourage Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to stop the government offensive in the region, withdraw his troops and allow U.N. peacekeepers to take over from an African Union force that has been largely ineffective in stemming the violence.

Al-Bashir has allowed the AU contingent to remain until the end of the year, but has refused to allow the United Nations to upgrade their poorly armed and undermanned contingent with soldiers and equipment. Al-Bashir says that would amount to reinstating colonialism in his former British colony.

On Sunday, Arab League diplomats said al-Bashir had rejected a league compromise suggestion that Arab League and Muslim troops be allowed to intervene in Darfur. They said he had promised to come up with an alternative proposal.

The Senate’s letter spoke of the Sunday developments and that no alternatives have been forthcoming from Khartoum.

"The situation on the ground remains dire," it said. "We ask you to urge Arab League members — particularly Qatar, which abstained from the last (Security Council) vote — to strongly encourage Khartoum to comply" with the U.N. resolution to send troops.

"As members of the U.S. Congress, we assure you that our primary objectives and those of our constituents across America are to protect civilians in Darfur, find a just resolution to the political conflict and begin the long path to reconstruction and reconciliation," the House letter said.

(AP/ST)

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