‘Genocide’ in Darfur: Powell

Addressing an American Senate hearing, Mr Powell said that evidence compiled by US investigators “concluded that genocide has been committed in Darfur and the government of Sudan and the Janjaweed (nomadic Arab militia) bear responsibility, and that genocide may still be occurring.”

Mr Powell has demanded a “full-blown and unfettered” investigation be conducted by the United Nations into the crisis, with the possibility that sanctions directed at Sudan’s oil industry be imposed.

A US-backed resolution, asking for an increased African Union military presence, international monitoring flights over Darfur and an end to Sudanese military flights there, has been put to the UN’s Security Council for debate.

However, China and Algeria, the council’s lone Arab member, have expressed clear opposition to sanctions, according to a diplomatic source who spoke to the news agency AFP.

In Nairobi, Sudan’s deputy parliamentary speaker, Angelo Beda, deflected the genocide claims saying the conflict in Darfur “is (a) civil war, the people of Darfur are equal.”

Mr Beda said that the US and other Western powers were seeking to weaken the Khartoum government with allegations of genocide in order to “come in with occupying forces for the sake of oil.”

Sudan produces around 250,000 barrels a day of oil, and the government has recently announced the discovery of considerable oil reserves in Darfur.

Rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement leader, John Garang, who led a separate 20 year resistance in southern Sudan, agreed with Mr Powell’s assessment.

“When you have a government that uses tribes against other tribes as a counter-insurgency strategy, that concept of using people against people, that’s the definition of genocide, or ethnic cleansing,” Mr Garang said.

An estimated 50,000 people have been killed and 1.4 million more uprooted since rebels rose up in February 2003.

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