Security Council Lifts Five-Year-Old Sudan Sanctions
The UN Security Council agreed Friday to immediately remove diplomatic sanctions it imposed on Sudan on April 26, 1996, after an attempt to assassinate Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
In a brief resolution, sponsored by the eight non-aligned country members of the council and adopted in a 14-0 vote, it also rescinded a ban on air travel which was ordered on August 16, 1996, but never enforced.
The United States, which had previously condemned Sudan as a sponsor of international terrorism, abstained on the vote, but acknowledged that Sudan had made "substantial steps" towards combating terrorism.
The sanctions were designed to force Sudan to extradite three Egyptians suspected of trying to kill Mubarak as he arrived in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, on June 26, 1995, for a summit of the Organization of African Unity.
James Cunningham, the deputy US ambassador to the United Nations, noted "with concern" that the suspects had not been handed over, but said the United States believed they were no longer in Sudan.
He also noted that Egypt and Ethiopia both wanted the sanctions lifted.
After the attempt on Mubarak's life, the council ordered all UN member states to reduce the number and level of Sudanese diplomats in their territory and to restrict the movement of Sudanese government officials and military.
It also banned the holding of international conferences in Sudan.
Last year, the Sudanese foreign minister, Mustafa Osman Ismail, wrote to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan saying official inquiries had shown that "no trace has been found of the three suspects in the Sudan."
Annan who was, unusually, present for the council vote, told reporters later that it sent "an important message" that the council was willing to lift sanctions as well as impose them.
The men who raked Mubarak's car with gunfire as he drove into the city from Addis Ababa airport were allegedly linked to Osama bin Laden, the man accused of terrorist strikes on the United States in 1998 and this month.
In August 1998, the United States bombed a pharmaceutical factory outside the Sudanese capital Khartoum which it said was used by bin Laden to make chemical weapons.
As late as October last year, the United States was still describing Sudan as a rogue state, and it conducted an intense campaign to prevent Sudan being elected to one of the 10 non-permanent seats on the Security Council.
But, Cunningham said, "Sudan has recently apprehended extremists in that country whose activities may have contributed to international terrorism."
He added that Sudan was "seriously engaged in discussions with my government about ways to combat terrorism" and said: "We welcome those steps and expect this cooperation to continue."
Sudan's ambassador to the UN, Elfatih Erwa, in a brief statement to the council after the vote, said the lifting of sanctions was "a strong impetus for my country to proceed forward and to cooperate in order to eliminate terrorism” -- UNITED NATIONS (AFP)
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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