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Paving the 'war and destruction' path

"Paving the 'war and destruction' path" Continued...

Issue: "Staying underground," May 3, 2003

The president's statement also failed to address a second section of the law, which requires him to certify whether Khartoum has "unreasonably interfered with humanitarian efforts." Even as Mr. Bush signed those requirements into law last year, Khartoum temporarily shut down UN flights of food and other necessities into Sudan. Sudanese forces fired artillery at relief planes, including a UN World Food Program flight landing in the Nuba Mountains just as U.S. Special Envoy John Danforth began a tour of the region.

As further evidence that the Bush administration is well aware of violations by the Sudanese government, its recently revived embassy in Khartoum cabled to Washington firsthand reports of January attacks on civilians in Western Upper Nile. Those reports apparently fed into the State Department's annual human-rights report, released last month. It said Khartoum's cooperation with UN-sponsored relief operations "generally was poor, although there was some improvement." Government forces "continued to obstruct the flow of humanitarian assistance" and created other roadblocks by denying visas or work permits to foreign humanitarian workers.

"Some improvement" is why State Department officials don't want to see the president "decertify" the government in Khartoum just now. They hope SPLA chairman John Garang and Sudanese President Omar Bashir will reach a peace agreement by summer. They fear a punitive stand by the United States at this time could be a setback.

SPLA spokesman Samson Kwaje told WORLD he has no such fears. "I am sure that instead of furthering the negotiations, Khartoum will harden its position once it sees that President Bush is ignoring these violations," he said. Both sides are "30 to 40 percent" toward a settlement, according to Mr. Kwaje, with the biggest issues-the south's right of self-determination and religious freedom-yet to be resolved. In the meantime, what the SPLA constituency fears more are tanks and other hardware moving down the Nile.

Mindy Belz
Mindy Belz

Mindy travels to the far corners of the globe as the editor of WORLD and lives with her family in the mountains of western North Carolina. Follow Mindy on Twitter @mcbelz.

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