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President Bush signs Sudan peace legislation

Posted on: October 29, 2002 12:03 PM
Related Categories: South Sudan

Representatives of the Episcopal Church's Office of Government Relations were present October 21 when President George W. Bush signed into law a bill designed to pressure Sudan's Islamic government to end its military campaign against Christians, animists and moderate Muslims in the country's central and southern regions. The bill, called the Sudan Peace Act, threatens sanctions if the Sudanese government doesn't negotiate in good faith with the opposition.

According the Associated Press, the Khartoum-based government signed an agreement October 15 to suspend fighting during negotiations and lifted a ban on relief flights to the south, banned on August 31 after rebel forces overran the strategically crucial town of Torit. Civil war broke out in Sudan in 1983, and since then an estimated 2 million people have been killed, mainly through famine caused by the fighting, and another 4 million have been forced to flee their homes. Foreign companies drilling for oil in central Sudan have been a cause of intensified conflict in recent years.

The Sudan Peace Act represents a compromise from an earlier version, whose provision to bar companies from being listed on U.S. stock exchanges if they participate in oil development in Sudan, opposed by the Bush administration, was stripped from the final version. The compromise bill identified peace talks as the best opportunity to promote a "negotiated, peaceful settlement to the war in Sudan" and "commends the efforts of the Special Presidential Envoy to Sudan, Senator John Danforth, and his team in working to assist the parties to the conflict in Sudan in finding a just, permanent peace to the conflict in Sudan." Danforth is an Episcopal priest.

It requires the administration to report to Congress on the status of peace talks every six months to certify that the parties are negotiating in good faith. A negative report would trigger sanctions, including opposition to any new loans for Sudan, downgrading or suspending diplomatic relations between the US and Sudan, and denying Khartoum access to oil revenues to make certain that they are not used to obtain military equipment.

Another section calls for an annual report by the Secretary of State to Congress on sources of financing for the Sudanese oil business, construction of infrastructure and pipelines for exploration, effects on the inhabitants of the region of the oil fields, and the ability of Sudan to finance the war with oil proceeds. The report requires a description of the extent to which any financing was secured with involvement of US citizens.

Article from: ENS 2002-246