US, Britain, Norway 'deeply concerned' on Sudan
The United States, Britain and Norway said Friday they were "deeply concerned" by Sudan's curtailment of human rights since April elections and voiced alarm about a deterioration in Darfur.
The three powers issued a joint statement as Sudan enters the final year of a 2005 peace deal that halted a 22-year north-south civil war, saying that a "tremendous amount of work" was needed to ensure stability moving forward.
"We are deeply concerned at the actions of the Sudanese authorities since the election, which have further undermined civil and political rights, including the arrest of opposition politicians, journalists and peaceful protestors," the statement said.
The three nations urged Sudan to "ensure a conducive political environment" in the run-up to the January 2011 referendum that will let southern Sudan decide its future status -- a key element of the peace deal.
While the tenuous peace deal holds in southern Sudan, the western Darfur region has been torn by a separate conflict since 2003 when ethnic minority rebels took up arms against Khartoum and state-backed Arab militias.
The United States, Britain and Norway voiced alarm that the security situation "continues to deteriorate" in Darfur, with cease-fire violations by both the government and rebel groups.
"We remain deeply concerned by the government of Sudan's use of aerial bombings and local militias," the statement said.
"We urge all parties to end violence, commit to a sustained and permanent ceasefire, and engage fully and constructively in the AU-UN led peace talks," it said, referring to dialogue between Khartoum and Darfuris being brokered by the African Union and United Nations in Qatar.
The United States, Britain and Norway form a so-called "troika" of powers on relations with Sudan. Britain was the vast African nation's former colonial power, while Norway is a major provider of aid.
© 2010 AFP