WASHINGTON (CN) – Addressing extensive death and dislocation in the Darfur region of Sudan, President Barack Obama promised Monday to renew tough sanctions against the Sudanese government but also offered new incentives if the situation improves.
The strategy, which was developed over four months, puts more weight on incentives than the strategy of the previous administration, although White House officials did not detail what type of incentives the United States might propose.
“As the United States and our international partners meet our responsibility to act,” Obama said, “the government of Sudan must meet its responsibilities to take concrete steps in a new direction.”
“If the government of Sudan acts to improve the situation on the ground and to advance peace, there will be incentives,” he said. “If it does not, then there will be increased pressure imposed by the United States and the international community.”
The conflict in Darfur has killed roughly 300,000 people and has displaced almost three million, according to the U.N. “Sudan is now poised to fall further into chaos if swift action is not taken,” Obama said.
Obama said that he would renew the sanctions against Sudan later this week.
Conflict broke out in 2003 when rebels began attacking the government, accusing it of favoring Arabs and oppressing blacks. Land, water, and grazing rights have been a continuous source of tension between the nomadic Arabs and the black farmers.
The government responded with its own militias, which have been accused of trying to cleanse black Africans from the population.
“This strategy builds on lessons learned from past efforts and addresses the situation as it exists today, promoting both engagement and accountability,” Massachusetts Democrat Sen. John Kerry said in support of the plan. He chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Others are skeptical of the incentives.
“It is lamentable to see that, once again, the U.S. approach to murderous regimes such as the one in Sudan is to offer incentives and engagement in the hope that it will entice them to change their ways,” Florida Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen said in a written statement as ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “Incentives will only be interpreted by the Sudanese regime as weakness and a lack of commitment by the United States.”