Sudan wants India’s help over Darfur crisis

October 29th, 2008 - 6:32 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Oct 29 (IANS) With its president indicted by a global body for alleged atrocities in Darfur, Sudan Wednesday asked India to use its clout to help the world understand the situation in its western province better even as it asked Indian businessmen to scale up investment in that country. “We expect India to find out what is the reality in Darfur so that it can speak on our behalf to the world community,” Sudan’s Minister of Finance and National Economy Awad Ahmed Elijazz told IANS here Wednesday.

“Darfur is returning to peace and stability. We invite all Indians to visit Sudan and find out the truth for themselves. We want our Indian friends to help the world community in understanding the Darfur situation better,” said Elijazz, who is heading a six-member high-level delegation to India on a three-day visit.

“Darfurians are looking for development, water, school and infrastructure. That’s the area we are focusing on. This is also where friendly countries like India can help,” he said.

In his meetings with Indian leaders, Elijazz is likely to seek India’s support against the move by the International Criminal Court (ICC) to prosecute President Omar al-Bashir on 10 counts of war crimes and genocide, charges denied by Khartoum.

This issue is likely to figure in his discussions with External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee later in the evening, official sources said.

He will also meet Petroleum Minister Murli Deora Thursday and discuss expansion of cooperation in the oil sector.

The African Union, the Arab League, the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) called for invoking Article 16 which allows the UNSC to suspend the ICC prosecutions in any case for a period of 12 months that can be renewed indefinitely.

According to UN and other NGOs working in the region, around 200,000 people have died in the conflict in Darfur and 2.5 million displaced in the last five years. Sudan, Africa’s largest country and its leading oil hub, contests this figure and insists that the deceased are no more than a few thousands.

Western countries have tended to see the conflict in the mineral-rich Darfur as a case of ethnic cleansing of black natives by the dominant Arab majority. Khartoum, however, maintains that it is a resource war between nomads in north Darfur and farmers in the south over limited land and water resources in the region.

Lauding India’s economic growth over the last few years, the Sudanese minister asked Indian businessmen to scale up their investment in growing sectors of Sudanese economy like infrastructure, railways, agriculture and high-technology.

“In the area of hydrocarbons, there is still more room for cooperation between the two countries,” he said while alluding to over $1 billion in three oil blocks in Sudan.

Earlier, addressing business leaders, diplomats and mediapersons at a meeting hosted by Sudanese ambassador, Elijazz spoke about Sudan reactivating relations with India and other emerging countries in Southeast Asia as part of Khartoum’s Look East policy.

“The Indian economy is moving and it is stable. Sudan is an open society and economy; there is no bar on anyone coming here,” he said while asking Indian entrepreneurs to increase their investment in Sudan.

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