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U.N. Sets Deadline for Sudan to Curb Violence

The United Nations took up the issues in hopes of pressuring the Sudanese government to stop ethic and militia violence that has killed at least 30,000 people and forced more than a million to flee. Aid groups and others have accused the Khartoum government of either supporting the efforts of the Janjaweed Arab militia or not doing enough to stop the groups that have targeted African Muslims.

The resolution passed only after the United States dropped its insistence on explicitly threatening sanctions against Sudan, instead referring to a section of the U.N. Charter that permits punitive measures.

Known as Article 41, the provision allows the “interruption” of economic, transport, communications or diplomatic measures, which amounts to sanctions.

Russia and other Security Council members, including Pakistan and China, had been reluctant to threaten sanctions and had called for Sudan to be given sufficient time to meet its commitments under the July 3 agreement.

The resolution — cosponsored by Britain, France, Germany, Spain, Chile and Romania — was adopted with 13 votes. China and Pakistan abstained.

The Sudanese government, which has said it is doing all it can to end the violence, dismissed the move.

“Sudan announces its rejection of the Security Council’s misguided resolution,” Information Minister Al-Zahawi Ibrahim Malik said in a statement.

The newly passed resolution gives the Sudan government 30 days to curb the fighting as agreed on July 3, and calls on U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan to issue a progress report in 30 days.

“The wording in the initial draft of the resolution included ‘sanctions.’ It turns out that the use of that word is objectionable to certain members,” said John Danforth, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. “They would rather use what I would call ‘U.N. speak’ for exactly the same thing,” he said.

Some international observers agreed the final resolution was likely too weak to end the unfolding humanitarian crisis in the region. Princeton Lyman, head of the African program at the Council on Foreign Relations, said that dropping the word “sanctions” would greatly weaken the impact of the resolution and signal to Sudan that it could evade sanctions through partial compliance.

“This is going to be one of those resolutions where people will look back and wonder why the Security Council even bothered,” he said.

The resolution’s sponsors say the substance of the threat remains in the wording of the text.

The resolution also places an immediate weapons embargo on all armed groups in Darfur, where government forces and Arab militia known as “Janjaweed” have been battling two rebel groups, the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army and the Justice and Equality Movement.

The United Nations has been planning a peacekeeping force to southern Sudan where a decades-old civil war is ending, and the resolution says the planning should also include Darfur, although the troops are not expected soon.

At the instigation of Nigerian leader Olusegun Obasanjo, the African heads of state meeting in Ghana will schedule talks to find an “African solution” to the crisis in Sudan.

Saying that the situation in Darfur has worsened, Obasanjo urged African countries to send more than the 300 troops already promised. The first of the 300 troops are expected to arrive next week, reports the AFP news agency. Analysts say 15,000 to 20,000 troops would be needed in Darfur.

The conflict in Darfur dates back to early 2003 when black Africans from Darfur rebelled against the country’s Arab Muslim leadership demanding a greater share of the country’s oil wealth.

In addition to the more than 1 million have been displaced and 2.2 million are in urgent need of aid, according to U.N. reports.