UN 'rules out' genocide in Darfur

A genocide has not been committed in Darfur, a keenly
awaited United Nations report says, according to
Sudan's foreign minister.

If genocide was found to have taken place, signatories
to a UN convention are legally obliged to act to end

The report has been given to UN Secretary General Kofi
Annan who said it would be published shortly.

More than 70,000 people have been killed and two
million forced to flee their homes in Darfur.

"We have a copy of that report and they didn't say
there is a genocide," said Mustafa Osman Ismail.

Sanctions threat

The United States says that government-backed militias
have committed a genocide against Darfur's non-Arab

The government denies arming the Janjaweed militias
and blames Darfur's rebel groups for starting the

Asked whether the report concluded that genocide had
been committed, Mr Annan said:


"Regardless of how the commission describes what is
going on in Darfur, there is no doubt that serious
crimes have been committed."

"Action will have to be taken," to end the Darfur
conflict, he said, adding that he believed sanctions
should be threatened.

A five-man panel led by Italian judge Antonio Cassese
was set up in October to investigate reports that a
genocide had been committed in Darfur.

There is a precise UN definition of genocide. The team
had to assess whether there was intent by the Sudanese
government to destroy a national, ethnical, racial or
religious group in Darfur.

'Disarm militia'

Last week, a government plane reportedly bombed a
village killing some 100 people, mostly women and

Sudanese Interior Minister Abdel Rahim Mohamed Hussein
told Reuters news agency that the incident was being

"Armies all over the world have committed mistakes and
it is possible that an isolated bombing took place. If
this is so, we will punish the offenders," he said.

Mr Ismail was speaking at a two-day African Union
summit in the Nigerian capital, Abuja.

The United States has pushed for sanctions to be
imposed on Sudan if the violence in Darfur does not
end, but this has been opposed by China and Russia,
which have economic ties to the Sudan government.

"The [UN Security] Council had considered sanctions
and had not been able to move forward because of some
divisions in the Council. But I believe that sanctions
should still be on the table," Mr Annan said.

The Darfur rebels have appealed for a peacekeeping
force strong enough to disarm the Arab militias,
accused of systematic killings and mass rape.

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