Obama warns Sudan may face more pressure on Darfur

Washington– President Barack Obama urged Sudan on Monday to cooperate in efforts to stabilize the country or Washington will conclude that engagement is not working and seek “additional pressure” on Khartoum.

Obama, answering questions submitted via YouTube, said the United States, United Nations and other countries were working to broker a series of agreements to stabilize the country and allow refugees back to their homes.

“We continue to put pressure on the Sudanese government. If they are not cooperative in these efforts, then it is going to be appropriate for us to conclude that engagement doesn’t work, and we’re going to have to apply additional pressure on Sudan in order to achieve our objectives,” Obama said.

He said, however, he hoped “we can broker agreements with all the parties involved to deal with what has been enormous human tragedy in that region.”

Estimates vary widely on how many people have died in Sudan’s Darfur conflict, which began when mostly non-Arab rebels took up arms against the government in 2003. The United Nations says as many as 300,000 have died. The Sudanese government puts the figure at 10,000.

US strategy toward Sudan calls for renewed economic sanctions, but also offers Khartoum incentives to end violence.

The International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir last year for war crimes in Darfur. This week it will rule on whether genocide charges could be added.

Bashir is running in Africa’s largest country’s first democratic elections in 24 years in April.

Obama said the situation in Sudan “has been heartbreaking but also extremely difficult.”

“The next step in the challenge is to broker a lasting peace agreement between rebels who are still in the Darfur region and this government,” he said.

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