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Legislators Move to Strengthen Divestment Efforts against Sudan


A group of Democrats in the House of Representatives will try to supplement US Congressional efforts to strengthen economic sanctions against Sudan. They will soon unveil new legislation barring Federal contracts for companies doing business with Sudan until attacks and rampant killings in the troubled Darfur region are stopped. The legislators plan to introduce the ban of Federal tax dollar spending on companies having commercial interests in Sudan following a Thursday news conference. California Congresswoman Barbara Lee, a co-sponsor, explained a purpose of the measure to VOA English to Africa reporter Howard Lesser.

“We believe that at this point, we need to allow movements by organizations and individuals and states who want to see divestment efforts occur,” she said.

Congresswoman Lee points out that passage of earlier legislation, known as the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act, has been stymied in the US Senate for months because of controversial legal provisions that raise questions about the authority of individual US states to divest funds from foreign governments.

Congressional sources say the Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, Richard Lugar of Indiana, is delaying progress in the Senate. Congresswoman Lee credits Senator Lugar with pushing through effective economic tools in the 1980s that helped to bring down South Africa’s apartheid regime.

But regarding the earlier legislation, she laments that, “unfortunately, Senator Lugar, for the life of me, I don’t understand why, is holding this bill up. I’m not certain what the reasoning is behind this, but I’m understanding that there are major business and corporate interests that are weighing in to try to get this roadblock put up, and they’re trying to torpedo this effort.”

If the new proposal passes, the California legislator predicts, “Billions of dollars will be lost, and billions of dollars should be lost for companies doing business in Sudan.”

Lee adds, “This is so important because people don’t want blood on their hands in terms of their money paying for genocide with the Khartoum government.”

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