Bush Says U.S. May Impose New Punishments On Sudan

Wednesday, April 18th 2007, 10:52 am
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Bush said Wednesday that the United States will tighten economic sanctions and impose new punishments if Sudan fails to take concrete action to stop the bloodshed in Darfur.

Bush said Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir must follow through on the deployment of U.N. support forces and take every necessary step to facilitate the deployment of the full U.N.-African Union peacekeeping force. He must end support to violent militias, reach out to the rebel leaders and allow humanitarian aid to reach the people of Darfur.

``If President al-Bashir does not meet his obligations, the United States of America will act,'' Bush said.

Bush warned of a series of steps if the Sudanese president does not meet his obligations.

Bush said the United States would tighten economic sanctions on Sudan, barring certain companies from taking part in the U.S. financial system; target sanctions on individuals responsible for violence; and apply new sanctions against the government of Sudan.

More than 200,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million have been displaced in the four-year conflict in Darfur, which began when rebels from ethnic African tribes rose up against the central government. The government is accused of responding by unleashing the janjaweed militias of Arab nomads _ blamed for indiscriminate killing. The government denies the charges.

The United Nations and U.S. have been pushing Sudan to accept thousands more U.N. troops to build up a combined AU-U.N. force of 20,000. The Sudanese president has repeatedly rejected a U.N. force, but his recent agreement to accept 3,000 U.N. troops could be a sign that the pressure is beginning to have an effect.

The Sudanese government, however, had resisted a U.N. force in the past and frequently reversed position after appearing to agree to a peacekeeping mission.

``The time for promises is over,'' Bush said. ``President al-Bashir must act.''

The current force of 7,000 AU peacekeepers has been unable to stop the fighting in a region the size of Texas. About 2.5 million people have been driven from their homes in Darfur and are living in poorly protected camps in the province and eastern Chad.

The Sudanese president has a history of finding loopholes in agreements with the U.N. and others in the international community.

``He must stop his pattern of obstruction once and for all,'' Bush said. ``I have made a decision to allow the secretary-general more time to pursue his diplomacy. However, if President Bashir does not fulfill the steps I outlined above in a short period of time, my administration will take the following steps.''

Bush said the Treasury Department would tighten U.S. economic sanctions on Sudan. That would allow the United States to block any of the Sudan government's dollar transactions within the U.S. system. The Treasury Department also would add 29 companies owned or controlled by the Sudanese government to a list that will make it a crime for American companies and individuals to do business with them.

Secondly, the U.S. would target sanctions on individual people responsible for violence. That will cut them off from the U.S. financial system, preventing them, too, from doing business with U.S. companies or individuals and ``calling the world's attention to their crimes,'' Bush said.

Bush said he will direct the secretary of state to prepare a U.N. Security Council resolution to apply new sanctions against the government of Sudan and people found to be violating human rights or obstructing peace.

Bush spoke at the U.S. Holocaust Museum to a crowd that included Holocaust survivors. He honored Liviu Librescu, a Holocaust survivor who died trying to keep a gunman from shooting his students in the killing spree at Virginia Tech. Librescu, an aeronautics engineer and teacher at the school for 20 years, saved the lives of several students by using his body to barricade a classroom door before he was gunned down in Monday's massacre.

``We take strength from his example,'' Bush said.

This week marks the National Days of Remembrance of the Holocaust. At least 1.1 million people, mostly Jews, but also Poles, Gypsies and others, died in the Nazi gas chambers or from starvation and disease.

When the president arrived at the museum, several dozen demonstrators were outside pleading for more urgent action to resolve the crisis in Darfur, where thousands of people are dying each month from a lack of food, water, health care and shelter in the desert.

Before Bush spoke, he viewed an exhibit on anti-semitism and one titled ``Genocide Emergency Darfur: Who will survive today?'' He looked at photographs of refugees and victims from the region and saw satellite imagery of the region on a computer.