Sanctions an option in Sudan: French FM

28th July 2004, Comments 0 comments

ABECHE, Chad, July 28 (AFP) - French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier said it may be necessary to hit Sudan with sanctions, but insisted that pressure must be put on all sides in order to halt the conflict in the Darfur region.

ABECHE, Chad, July 28 (AFP) - French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier said it may be necessary to hit Sudan with sanctions, but insisted that pressure must be put on all sides in order to halt the conflict in the Darfur region.

"The threat of sanctions may be useful but it is necessary to put pressure on all the parties," Barnier said late Tuesday following a meeting with President Idriss Deby of Chad, before leaving for South Africa, where he arrived Wednesday.

He said this meant pressure on the Sudanese government to disarm the government-backed Janjaweed militias, who have been accused by rights and aid agencies of conducting a brutal campaign of ethnic cleansing.

The Darfur conflict erupted following an uprising in February last year by two rebel groups.

The death toll is as high as 50,000, according to UN officials, and some 1.2 million have been driven from their homes in the region in the west of the huge oil-rich state.

Barnier referred to a draft resolution proposed in the UN Security Council by the United States to impose sanctions on Sudan unless it disarmed the militias, adding that France was taking part in these discussions and promising that the resolution would be "equitable."

"We have to be careful," he said. "The situation is fragile and Sudan is an important country."

At a joint press conference with Barnier, Deby, who mediated a cease-fire in April that has largely been ignored, said he was concerned that if the crisis continued, it would lead to a fresh influx of refugees into Chad.

About 200,000 Dafur residents have already crossed the 800-kilometre (500-mile) frontier between Dafur and Chad.

Deby accused Sudan of arming people in Chad and using them along with the Janjaweed as a militia against the Darfur population.

Before coming to Chad, Barnier visited a giant refugee camp inside the Darfur region, and met African Union observers.

The camp, at El Facher, holds about 40,000 refugees.

© AFP

Subject: French news

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