Nov 1, 2006 (LONDON) — China’s role in international diplomatic
negotiations with the Sudanese government to end the ongoing conflict
in the ravaged province of Darfur is critical, the UN’s special envoy
to Sudan said on British television on Tuesday.
Jan Pronk, who was expelled from the country for comments he made on
Darfur, also said that debt relief and the lifting of trade sanctions
could help ease the situation.
“Some members of the (United Nations) Security Council have some
leverage,” Pronk told the BBC.
“If there is any country which could play an important role, it is
China … China never put a lot of pressure (on Sudan). The pressure
came in particular from the other members of the Security Council.”
At least 200,000 people have died as a result of fighting, famine and
disease in Darfur in the west of Sudan. More than two million people
have fled their homes since rebels launched an uprising in early 2003,
prompting a scorched earth response from the military and its
Janjaweed militia allies.
Pronk also said that “debt relief (and) the lifting of the trade
sanctions, could help easing the situation. It might bring the
government of Sudan to a U-turn in its own position.”
He advised against strong pressure on the country, however, and
instead backed a stronger African Union force in Sudan along with
diplomatic help from the United Nations.
“Don’t put too much pressure on the Sudanese, because they have a
habit of hitting back,” Pronk told the broadcaster.
“Too much pressure is not very effective. Assist the African Union to
do a better job, more resources in particular, so that you have, by
more support to the African Union, a gradual transition.
“The difficulty is, the dilemma, how to respect the sovereignty of a
nation and to, secondly, protect the people within a nation.
“That is a hell of a job. There is only one international organsation
who can do so and that is the United Nations,” he said.
The outspoken Pronk was ordered out of Sudan a week ago after
reporting on his personal weblog that the Sudanese army had suffered
major losses in fighting against rebels in Darfur.
His comments to the BBC came hours after British Prime Minister Tony
Blair warned Sudanese Vice President General Salva Kiir Mayardit that
Sudan faced a “crunch point” and would be internationally isolated if
it failed to act over Darfur within weeks.