Visiting British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Monday that he and President Bush will step up pressure to end violence in Sudan's Darfur province. Brown, who and President Bush wrapped up two days of talks Monday in the United States, said they agreed to expedite the UN resolution for a joint UN-African Union peacekeeping force for Darfur.
Congressman Donald Payne is chairman of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health. He told VOA he hopes the new breed of European leaders would force the United States to do more about Darfur.
“I hope that the new prime minister of Great Britain and the new president in France have both taken a very strong interest, and this is a good sign, if we could get the Europeans more engaged to put pressure on and push our government. The members of Congress want to go further, but we’ve seen the administration sort of slow down once again because Sudan is supposed to be assisting us against al-Qaeda, they claim,” he said.
Congressman Payne said the United States was once again looking the other way while thousands continue to die in Darfur.
“Once again, we are looking the other way as people die because one issue is supposed to be paramount to this so-called war on terror. We cannot compromise all the principles for people we consider to be our allies because they say they support the war on terror,” Payne said
Congressman Payne called for a boycott of the 2008 Summer Olympics if China does not stop selling what he called illegal arms to Sudan.
“We must keep the pressure on China. I’d like to even see, if they continue to sell illegal arms to the government, that we should have a boycott of the Olympics in Beijing in ’08. It would be the blood Olympics, and we can’t let them have it both ways,” Payne said.
Payne, who also sponsored the Ethiopia Freedom, Democracy, and Human Rights Advancement Act of 2007 last month, said Congress was pleased about the recent release from prison of 38 opposition politicians.
But he said the United States must keep up the pressure on the Ethiopian government.
“There are hundreds of more political prisoners, and the United States needs to keep pressure on Ethiopia as we would on any other country that’s our ally and friend, to tell them that they must respect the rights of their people. We cannot go back to the days of the Cold War where we supported totalitarian governments just because they were on our side because in the long run you lose,” he said.
On Zimbabwe, Congressman Payne hoped that the Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries would prevail on President Robert Mugabe to relinquish what he called his strangle hold on his people.
“Mr. Mugabe has just turned his back on many of us who have been trying to help Zimbabwe. And so something has to happen. The country cannot exist much longer in the manner in which he is running it,” Payne said.