Bush signs executive order strengthening sanctions on Sudan

Ap

Ap, 14 Octobre 2006

WASHINGTON President George W. Bush has signed an executive order that stiffens sanctions on Sudan and its oil industry in an effort to persuade the government to accept U.N. peacekeepers and stop the killing of civilians in Darfur.

The president signed the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act to deal with the crisis in the western region where at least 200,000 people have died and 2.5 million people have been displaced in three years of fighting.

The act imposes sanctions against those responsible for genocide, backs measures to protect civilians and humanitarian operations and supports peace efforts in the devastated region, according to the order issued Friday night by the White House. The order continues a countrywide blocking of the Sudan government's property and prohibits transactions related to Sudan's oil sector.

"The government of Sudan continues to implement policies and actions that violate human rights, in particular with respect to the conflict in Darfur," Bush said in his order.

"The pervasive role played by the government of Sudan in Sudan's petroleum and petrochemical industries threatens U.S. national security and foreign policy interests."

Bush's executive action expands on an earlier executive order issued by President Clinton in 1997.

The action taken Friday maintains robust U.S. sanctions on Sudan while facilitating U.S. assistance and investment in the development and reconstruction of Southern Sudan.

U.N. investigators and rights groups have blamed the bulk of the atrocities on the janjaweed, a pro-government militia that is widely accused of killing villagers and setting fire to their homes. The government denies supporting the janjaweed.

Despite a May peace agreement, aid workers and rights organizations agree with the Crisis Group's assessment that violence has increased in recent months.

The U.N. Security Council voted in August to replace the weak African Union peacekeeping mission with a much bigger U.N. force. But Sudan President Omar al-Bashir and his ruling National Congress Party have refused to let the U.N. peacekeepers deploy, claiming they would breach Sudan's sovereignty.