Sudan government promises cash boost for Darfur

By Guyson Nanagayi – New York – AFP- The Sudanese government  promised to inject almost $2bn into conflict-stricken Darfur, but again demanded war crimes charges against its president be dropped.

About  $1.9bn will be spent over four years as part of a new strategy to bring peace to the western region where hundreds of thousands have been killed over the past decade ,Vice President Ali Osman Taha told the UN General Assembly on monday.

The United Nations has imposed sanctions against Sudan aiming to halt the flow of arms into the region and President Omar al-Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on charges that he masterminded a campaign of genocide in Darfur.

Taha said the government wanted to re-establish security, increase development, bring back refugees who have crossed into neighbouring countries and bring “reconciliation” to Darfur.

Taha told the UN assembly: “To help economic development is part of the strategy, the government has allocated $1.9bn from its own revenues to be spent over four years” for Darfur.

He added by saying , the government which still relies heavily on international aid, hoped to get contributions from donors, other countries and international organisations.

However,  no details was given  on how the money would be spent but said the African Union, United Nations and other groups would be involved.

“The government,” he said, “wants reconciliation based on a national framework, but that also includes the people of Darfur.”

“We would like a partnership with all those who would like to deal with us,” Taha said.

But the vice president again lashed out at the ICC over the war crimes investigation against Bashir, who should face arrest if he were to travel internationally because of the warrant.

“The involvement of the ICC is a threat to the peaceful settlement expected by the country” in Darfur and other regions threatened by conflict.

He called the case “crude political intervention” intended to be “a tool to break the will of people” of Sudan.

“We completely reject this intervention which has no place in international law, logic or policy.” Taha praised African nations which have allowed Bashir to travel to their countries for international meetings.

He called on the UN Security Council “to withdraw the file completely from the ICC” and let it be handled by Sudan.

Taha highlighted a meeting on Sudan held at the United Nations last week, on preparations for a referendum in southern Sudan which could see the breakup of the country and said it needed a gesture of “co-operation.”

The vice president said he was confident the referendum would be held on time and in an “atmosphere of integrity and transparency”.

The United Nations says that up to 300 000 people have been killed in Darfur since an uprising started there in 2003, mainly in protest at the lack of aid given by the government to the region in spite of its oil wealth.