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French presidential candidates commit to protect Darfur people

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March 20, 2007 (PARIS) — Main candidates for the French presidential election have committed themselves to protect Darfur civilians and to impose sanctions against Khartoum, if they are elected.

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The leader of the SLM, Abdelwhaid al-Nur, welcomed by the French former minister Bernard Kouchner, one of the campaigners en favor of Darfur plight in France, Tuesday March 20, 2007. (AP)

In an important public meeting organized Tuesday evening by a French advocacy group, "Urgence Darfour", the main candidates for May elections signed an eight-point engagement to act for the protection of Darfur people through the UN Security Council.

The commitment signed by the Candidates says France will vigorously act for the vote by the UN Security Council of a resolution under the Chapter seven of the UN Charter to impose effective protection of civilians in Darfur with Khartoum consent or not. A non-fly zone, the creation of protected humanitarian corridors and targeted sanction against the Sudanese officials were among the proposed measures.

France’s Socialist presidential candidate Segolene Royal and, a rising French presidential candidate from the center, François Bayrou, suggested to boycott the Beijing Olympics games. Mrs. Royale also proposed that France should campaign internationally to put pressure over China to force the vote of drastic international measures against Khartoum.

The meeting which marked the entry of Darfur crisis in the French elections was also attended by the leader of the Sudan Liberation Movement. Abdelwhahid al-Nur received a standing ovation from the French public. He was hailed and presented by Bernard Henry-Levy, a French influential philosopher, as freedom fighter for democracy and secular state in Sudan.

The rebel leader urged in his speech the international community to act effectively for the protection of Darfur civilians. “It is time to act because al-Bashir regime is not going to cooperate with the international community or to stop the killing of innocent people;” he said.

The candidate of the French right, Nicolas Sarkozy, pledged to impose immediate and unilateral sanctions against Khartoum. He also proposed to impose heavy sanctions against the Sudanese government under the authority of UN Chapter seven.

Sarkozy further pledged to organize an international conference to put an end to Darfur crisis.

The French communist party candidate, Marie-Georges Buffet, said in a message sent to the meeting that besides measures needed against Khartoum to protect Darfur displaced and refugees, France should act to push for a negotiated solution of the four-year crisis.

The Collectif Urgence Darfur is a coalition of 120 French organizations and works since three years to raise awareness about the ongoing atrocities in Darfur and to mobilize French public to the human tragedy in Sudan’s troubled Darfur region.

The Urgence Darfour organized a secret trip through Chad to the former French prime minister, Laurent Fabious and Bernard Henry-Levy to Darfur region earlier this month. The French delegation visited burnt villages and met with Sudanese displaced in the region and the refugees in Chad.

Henry Levy openly supported the SLM. He further said if the international community remains powerless and fails to protect the Darfur civilians; the sole option that will be valid is to support the SLM to defend Darfurians.

French authorities pleaded in the past for dialogue with Sudanese government. However, it seems that after presidential elections things would be different towards Khartoum.

CHIRAC URGES SANCTIONS

The French President, Jacques Chirac, who in the past described Bashir as “my friend al-Bashir” addressed a vehement message to the meeting. He saluted the UN human rights team report on Darfur atrocities. He further said Sudan now must listen to the international community, or to face sanctions.

"I say solemnly: if the attacks continue, if agreements are not respected, the UN Security Council will have no other choice but to adopt sanctions. We are already working on it," he said.

“Every effort must be done in order to deploy the AU and UN forces in Darfur” he underlined.

(ST)

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