Home | News    Monday 9 August 2004

Arab League calls for arrest of Janjaweed leaders

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CAIRO, Aug 08, 2004 (dpa) — Arab foreign ministers meeting in Cairo in an exceptional session Sunday to discuss the Darfur crisis called for the arrest of leaders of the government-supported militia in Sudan and rejected any foreign military intervention.

The ministers, meeting at the request of Sudan and under the auspices of the Arab League, also called for an investigation into human rights violations in the western Sudanese region and a for the voluntary return of refugees to their homes.

Participants in the meeting, which included representatives from the African Union, the U.N. and Nigeria, called for "an immediate prosecution of some Janjaweed leaders as a beginning to a wide-scale disarmament campaign of outlawed militias."

The Arab foreign ministers rejected any "threat of forced military intervention in the region" and noted that any pressure or attempt to impose sanctions will only result in negative repercussions on all Sudanese people and will complicate the Darfur crisis.

The U.N. Security Council has passed a resolution threatening eventual sanctions if Sudan does not act to defuse the crisis in Darfur province.

The resolution adopted July 30 calls on Khartoum to disarm the feared Janjaweed militia within 30 days and end what is now commonly called the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. Sudan initially baulked at the resolution, but later said it would try to comply with its conditions.

Khartoum has been accused of backing the Moslem Janjaweed in a campaign of murder and rape against black African farmers in Darfur.

Arab foreign ministers also urged international donors to immediately finance humanitarian needs in the region. The final communiqué made no mention of any Arab commitment, financial or otherwise, despite a request from Sudanese Foreign Minister Mustafa Osman Ismail for Arab support on the financial, political and security levels.

The final statement also urged the Sudanese government to respond to the mediation of the African Union to resume talks with rebels "without conditions".

The ministers also urged the international community to "provide the appropriate time frame to allow the Sudanese government to fulfil its commitments."

The only reference to an Arab role in the final communique was a statement stressing "the importance of full Arab support to the efforts of the African Union in the Darfur crisis."

The Arab League, however, expressed its readiness to participate in mediation efforts under the auspices of the African Union.

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