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Last Updated: Monday, 31 January, 2005, 13:55 GMT
UN 'rules out' genocide in Darfur
Janjaweed militia
The Janjaweed are accused of widespread atrocities
A genocide has not been committed in Darfur, a keenly awaited United Nations report says, according to Sudan's foreign minister.

If genocide was found to have taken place, signatories to a UN convention are legally obliged to act to end it.

The report has been given to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan who said it would be published shortly.

More than 70,000 people have been killed and two million forced to flee their homes in Darfur.

"We have a copy of that report and they didn't say there is a genocide," said Mustafa Osman Ismail.

Sanctions threat

The United States says that government-backed militias have committed a genocide against Darfur's non-Arab groups.

The government denies arming the Janjaweed militias and blames Darfur's rebel groups for starting the conflict.

Asked whether the report concluded that genocide had been committed, Mr Annan said:


"Regardless of how the commission describes what is going on in Darfur, there is no doubt that serious crimes have been committed."

"Action will have to be taken," to end the Darfur conflict, he said, adding that he believed sanctions should be threatened.

A five-man panel led by Italian judge Antonio Cassese was set up in October to investigate reports that a genocide had been committed in Darfur.

There is a precise UN definition of genocide. The team had to assess whether there was intent by the Sudanese government to destroy a national, ethnical, racial or religious group in Darfur.

'Disarm militia'

Last week, a government plane reportedly bombed a village killing some 100 people, mostly women and children.

Sudanese Interior Minister Abdel Rahim Mohamed Hussein told Reuters news agency that the incident was being investigated.

Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo (l) and UN chief Kofi Annan at the African Union summit
Africa remains blighted by conflict and poverty

"Armies all over the world have committed mistakes and it is possible that an isolated bombing took place. If this is so, we will punish the offenders," he said.

Mr Ismail was speaking at a two-day African Union summit in the Nigerian capital, Abuja.

The United States has pushed for sanctions to be imposed on Sudan if the violence in Darfur does not end, but this has been opposed by China and Russia, which have economic ties to the Sudan government.

"The [UN Security] Council had considered sanctions and had not been able to move forward because of some divisions in the Council. But I believe that sanctions should still be on the table," Mr Annan said.

The Darfur rebels have appealed for a peacekeeping force strong enough to disarm the Arab militias, accused of systematic killings and mass rape.




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