THE US declaration that Sudanese government-allied militia have committed genocide in the Darfur region is a "big mistake" that could hinder peace talks and undermine the role of African states mediating in the conflict, Sudanese government officials said yesterday.
The announcement by US Secretary of State Colin Powell on Thursday that the killing, raping and displacement of black farmers by horse-mounted Arab fighters amounts to genocide "is sending a wrong signal" to rebel delegates at Darfur peace talks, said Sudanese Deputy Foreign Minister Najeeb El-Khair Abdel Wahab.
Insurgents "will bet on UN sanctions, they will want to wait for action to be taken by the UN security council - and, for that reason, they will not be forthcoming in negotiations," said Mr Abdel Wahab, who is a top government negotiator.
Sudan government and rebel envoys have been attending Darfur peace talks in the Nigerian capital Abuja since August 23 in an African Union-brokered effort to calm violence that has left 30,000 dead and 1.2 million homeless.
Yesterday, mediators adjourned the talks until Tuesday, saying that little progress had been made.
Washington is pressuring the UN security council to impose sanctions on Sudan's oil industry, among other measures, if the government does not take steps to improve security in Darfur and rein in the militia, known as the Janjaweed.
Such sanctions are opposed by China and Pakistan, security council members that import Sudanese oil.
Mr Powell noted that, as a member of the 1948 international genocide convention, Sudan is obliged to prevent and punish acts of genocide.
The 52-nation African Union currently has about 300 troops in Darfur, protecting 80 military observers monitoring a widely violated April ceasefire accord between Sudan's government and rebels.
George Osborne's advice from the International Monetary Fund is like the curate's egg - good in parts.
George Tapp suffered horrific injuries when he was run down last week at a demo against blacklisting in construction. He tells the Star why he's as determined as ever to carry on struggling for justice
The government wants to ramp up Western involvement in the Syrian conflict but the cost will be more violence and instability in the region