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Sudan Tribune

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Sudan committed to resolving Darfur crisis: Bashir

Al_Beshir_with_turban.jpgKHARTOUM, Sept 4 (AFP) — Sudanese President Omar el-Bashir declared that he was committed to resolving the crisis in the troubled western Darfur region amid international criticism that his government was not doing enough to stop what the UN has described as a humanitarian disaster.

El-Bashir made the comment Saturday during a meeting with a visiting delegation of international Islamic scholars led by prominent Egyptian cleric, Sheikh Yussef Qaradawi, the official Sudan News Agency reported.

The agency quoted the president as expressing “the government’s seriousness and concern about resolving the Darfur problem in all its dimensions.”

According to UN estimates, up to 50,000 people have died in Darfur since rebels rose up against the government in February last year, and about 1.4 million people have fled their homes.

The UN Security Council has ordered that Khartoum disarm the Janjaweed, a government-backed Arab militia accused of human rights abuses against the African population of Darfur and violations of a ceasefire agreement.

The Council gave Khartoum a 30-day deadline, which expired last week. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said Wednesday the militia had not been disarmed and attacks were continuing.

Some UN member states want to impose diplomatic or economic sanctions against Sudan, while others want to boost the international presence in Darfur to ensure that the attacks stop.

Qaradawi and his delegation arrived here Thursday in an effort to try to mediate an end to the conflict between the government and rebels from the Sudan Liberation Movement and the Justice and Equality Movement.

But observers expressed concern that the red-carpet treatment the scholars were given in Khartoum could send a message to the rebels that the visitors were more sympathetic to the government point of view and undermine their ability to act as mediators.

The group has held separate meetings with a host of senior government officials, including Vice President Ali Osman Taha, Interior Minister, General Abul Rahim Mohammed Hussein, and Humanitarian Affairs Minister, Ibrahim Mahmoud Hamid.

During a sermon Friday, Qaradawi accused international aid agencies operating in Darfur of using relief distribution to convert the region’s Muslim population to Christianity.

He charged that the West was conspiring against Muslims the world over, including in Darfur.

“We are in a big battle with our foes,” said Qaradawi, adding that it was a military, political as well as religious battle. “They are conspiring against us religiously.”

Qaradawi said there was a host of non-governmental organizations operating in Darfur under cover of “charity” but which were actively seeking to convert the local population to Christianity.

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