Government and opposition groups in Sudan have differing views on a new U.S. law allowing President Bush to impose sanctions against the Sudanese government. The president may act if he finds the Sudan's government is blocking efforts to achieve peace in the war-torn country.
Sudan's Minister of Finance and National Economy, Ahmed Majzoub Ahmed, called the new law "unjustified" and said it is the result of pressure by "elements hostile to Sudan."
President Bush signed the Sudan Peace Act, Monday. It gives him the authority to block oil revenues and loans through international financial institutions, seek a U.N. arms embargo against Sudan, and downgrade diplomatic relations if he finds that the Sudanese government is impeding peace efforts.
Opposition groups praised the U.S. move. Samson Kwaje is the spokesman for the Sudanese People's Liberation Movement, the SPLM, in Nairobi. "The government of Sudan believes in a military victory over the SPLM, SPLA, so we are very delighted that this legislation may, at least, force them to negotiate seriously," he said.
Another Sudan opposition official, Abdel Rahman Saiid of the Cairo-based National Democratic Alliance, says his group "is fed up" with a government that he says does not want peace. "This resolution was expected because it is very clear that the government of Khartoum does not want peace. They tried so many times to play with this peace and then when they sit down they do not reach any settlement. So this resolution, I think, will be some sort of pressure to bring them back to the table," Mr. Saiid explained.
Peace talks aimed at ending 19 years of civil war in Sudan resumed last week in Kenya and a cease-fire was supposed to be in force for the duration of the negotiations. But both sides have accused the other of violating the truce.
Government leaders throughout the region have credited the United States with pushing the two sides into peace negotiations. But Egyptian-based political analyst Fahmy Howeidi says not everyone will be happy if the United States decides to impose sanctions against Sudan under the newly passed law. He says peace should come from within the Sudanese state.
"There are certain things, which the local government should do. But if the United States tried to play this game inside the state this may create many problems and increase the anti-American feelings, because [these are the sort] of pressures which many governments and many people would not accept," he said.
Rebel forces in Sudan have been fighting for greater autonomy for the mainly animist and Christian south from the mostly Muslim north, in a war that has claimed as many as two million lives.