In the latest attempt to exert pressure on Sudan over the killing in the Darfur region, a group of conservative-to-moderate Republicans in Congress demanded Thursday that President Bush impose sanctions against the government for its failure to rein in the violence.
In a three-page letter sent to the White House, 15 members of the House urged Bush to “follow your instincts” and “authorize the actions you outlined on April 18,” when Bush promised that the United States would impose sanctions on Sudan if its government did not take action soon on Darfur.
The letter came a day after 108 members of Congress sought in another letter to press China to flex its muscles in Sudan to try to end the violence in Darfur. The two letters underscore the mounting frustration in Washington with the government of Sudan. On Thursday, Liu Guijin, a former ambassador to Zimbabwe and South Africa, was named China’s special envoy assigned to the Darfur issue, a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Jiang Yu, said.
“The time is at hand to reassert the resolve of the United States that the atrocities taking place in Darfur cannot stand,” the Thursday letter said. “We urge you to do everything within your power to inflict serious economic pain upon those who act as obstructionists to peace, and to take the other actions as necessary, to halt the continued assault against human dignity in Darfur.”
Representatives who signed the Thursday letter include Eric Cantor of Virginia, the deputy whip; Thaddeus McCotter of Michigan, chairman of the Republican policy committee; Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida; and Tom Tancredoc of Colorado.
A senior official of the Bush administration said Thursday that the United States may move toward sanctions within days. Bush said April 18 that he would give Sudan’s president, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, “a short period of time” to meet several conditions. The United States wants Bashir to agree to a full deployment of U.N. peacekeeping forces, to end his support for the janjaweed Arab militias that have been carrying out systematic killings of civilians in Darfur, and to allow aid to reach the region.