Africa Matters is a blog that follows the news and offers analysis of African affairs. Our aim is to delve deeper into the issues of African politics and development. We don’t presume to be experts, and we don’t presume to have all the answers—we are just trying to ask the right questions.

Tuesday, May 29

Sanctions on Sudan

Finally putting some meat on the bones of all of the threatening rhetoric on Darfur, President Bush announced today new, tougher sanctions against Sudan. The action entails stricter enforcement of existing sanctions on roughly 100 Sudanese companies, along with the addition of sanctions targeted at individuals, such as government officials and rebel leaders, and at 31 more businesses, 30 of which are contolled by the government in Khartoum. The president further indicated that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will push for a U.N.-imposed arms embargo and no-fly zone over Darfur. The sanctions take effect immediately.

"I call on President al-Bashir to stop his obstruction and to allow the peacekeepers in and to end the campaign of violence that continues to target innocent men, women and children," Bush said. "For too long the people of Darfur have suffered at the hands of a government that is complicit in the bombing, murder and rape of innocent civilians. My administration has called these actions by their rightful name: genocide. We're targeting sanctions against individuals responsible for violence."

Sudanese and Chinese officials criticized the move. China's resistence may indicate that any U.N. action will be hard to secure, with the country's veto on the Security Council. "Expanding sanctions can only make the problem more difficult to resolve," said Liu Guijin, China’s representative on African affairs, adding, however, that it "is still to early to speak of" whether a Security Council veto is in store.

Estimates hold that 200,000 people have died and 2.5 million people have been displaced as a result of the drawn-out conflict in western Sudan, which has more recently spilled over into Chad and the Central African Republic.