Sudan Rejects U.N. Ultimatum

A Sudanese displaced family at the market in the Riyadh Internally Displaced People's camp, outside El Geneina, in Western Darfur, Sudan, Sudan, July 28, 2004.
Sudan's government rejected the U.N. Security Council resolution on Friday, saying it conflicted with existing agreements with the world body.

"Sudan expresses its deep sorrow that the issue of Darfur has quickly entered the Security Council and has been hijacked from its regional arena," Information Minister El-Zahawi Ibrahim Malik said in a statement issued in Arabic.

His declaration came hours after the Security Council endorsed a resolution that gave the Sudanese government 30 days to disarm Arab militias blamed for the deaths of thousands in Darfur province or face diplomatic and economic penalties.

"It pains Sudan to have to express its rejection of the Security Council resolution, which was a not correct one," Malik said.

His statement was much stronger than that of his deputy, Deputy Information Minister Abdel Dafe Khattib, who earlier had told The Associated Press the resolution was "in line with the government's general policy, which is to disarm the Janjaweed because it is an outlawed gang."

Malik said the resolution "does not conform with the agreements signed between the government and the United Nations."

"Sudan reaffirms its absolute rejection of threats," Malik said in reference to the talk of sanctions and military intervention that has occured in Western capitals since it became obvious that the government was failing to curb the Arab militia called Janjaweed.

"Sudan has been watching what the enemy circles have been preparing. Sudan has been observing the greedy moves (to take over) its economic resources, and it is preparing to confront these outsiders so that the peace, which the government started with bold steps in Navasha, shall prevail in the country," the statement said, referring to the recent accord with the Sudan People's Liberation Army signed in Kenya.

Malik said the government was capable of "disarming all the looting and robbing gangs."

He accused the resolution of focussing on the Janjaweed militia more than the humanitarian plight of the displaced people in Darfur province. He also said the resolution failed to punish the rebel groups in Darfur "which are still committing horrible acts and refuse to sit at the negotiating table."

The United Nations and aid organizations have accused the Janjaweed of waging a brutal campaign to drive Sudanese citizens of African origin out of Darfur. An estimated 30,000 people have been killed in the 17-month conflict; a million people have been forced to flee their homes; and an estimated 2.2 million people are in urgent need of food, medicine and essential facilities.

Egypt, a country that has some influence with Sudan, its southern neighbor, praised the resolution as one that both rejected the rights violations in Darfur and gave Khartoum time to stop them.

The Egyptian government saw the resolution as a victory for its diplomacy, saying the wording "reflects to a great extent the remarks made by Egypt."

The conflict began in February 2003 when two rebel groups took up arms to fight for Darfur's African farmers after long simmering tension with Arab nomads. The rebels sought more investment in the long neglected province and autonomy from the government in Khartoum.

Representatives of the rebels walked out of a recent attempt to mediate the conflict. The government claimed that international pressure on Khartoum had emboldened the rebels.