Muslim Bloc Backs Sudan In Trying To Stop Darfur Report

Thursday, March 15th 2007, 7:08 am
By: News On 6

GENEVA (AP) _ Islamic countries say they will try to stop the U.N. Human Rights Council from considering a hard-hitting report accusing Sudan of orchestrating atrocities in Darfur.

The Organization of the Islamic Conference objects to the report because the authors _ a U.N. team led by Nobel peace laureate Jody Williams _ never visited the region.

The document was drawn up outside the country after Sudan refused to grant the team visas.

``We didn't recognize the mission to have fulfilled its mandate, and we rejected the report,'' Babacar Ba, the OIC's representative to the United Nations in Geneva, said Wednesday.

Senior OIC officials called on the United Nations to appoint a new mission of members approved by the Sudanese government, senior OIC officials said.

The Sudanese government told the 47-nation council on Tuesday that it ``strongly and resolutely'' opposes any consideration of the report.

With 17 members on the council, the OIC often draws on support from sub-Saharan African countries to force through its agenda.

Ba said the OIC had tried to persuade the council's chairman, Luis Alfonso de Alba, ``not to release the report because it is a non-report.''

The 35-page document was posted on the council's Web site on Monday, but it has yet to be taken up by the body.

It urges the United Nations to protect civilians against a Sudanese government-orchestrated campaign in Darfur, where more than 200,000 people have died and 2.5 million have been displaced by four years of fighting.

Sudan rejected the mission because it included former acting U.N. rights chief Bertrand Ramcharan, Ba said.

Sudanese Justice Minister Mohammed Ali al-Mardi refrained from naming Ramcharan in his speech Tuesday but said he was concerned about ``the outspoken expressions by a member of the mission of a preconceived judgment about the situation in Darfur.''

``If the council designates another acceptable man to be a member of this council, I'm sure the Sudanese will receive this mission,'' Ba said, adding that ``we in the OIC group will propose this and we want this mission to be sent to Darfur.''

``The mission should be composed of impartial names, and also agreed by the government,'' said OIC secretary-general Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu.

European countries are pressing for the current report to be accepted by the council and its recommendations, including the deployment of a joint United Nations and African Union peacekeeping force as demanded by the U.N. Security Council.