US congressional committee votes to cut aid from states hosting Sudanese president
WASHINGTON – A congressional committee in the United States House of Representatives voted to cut off aid to any state that hosts Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir who is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for his alleged role in Darfur war crimes.
The amendment to the fiscal year 2013 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill was pushed for by Frank Wolf who is one of Bashir’s most vocal critics.
“Women are being abused and killed for the color of their skin,” Wolf shouted according to ’The Hill’ website.
“This is a moral issue,” he added and threatened to send gruesome videos of violence in Sudan to any committee member who voted down the amendment.
“One lady she pinched her skin and said, ’I’m black. Get Bashir!’ ” the US Republican lawmaker said.
Wolf’s office released his prepared remarks in support of this provision which he said is necessary to further American interests.
“In a time when the foreign affairs budget is being squeezed, I believe our assistance should be a direct reflection of American values and priorities,” he said.
“Surely we can all agree that bringing a war criminal to justice is in our national interest. Leveraging our foreign assistance in this way sends a powerful message,” Wolf added.
The approval of the amendment does not guarantee that it will be included in the final appropriations bill especially as the Democrat-controlled Senate will produce its own version which will later have to be reconciled with the House version and voted on.
The issue has already drawn concern by some of Wolf’s peers in light of its implications on US foreign policy.
“We all agree that the situation in Sudan is deplorable, that President Bashir must be held accountable for his crimes,” Democratic Representative Nita Lowey said.
She noted that Bashir has visited many countries including Ethiopia, China, Egypt, Chad, Malawi, Qatar, Libya, Saudi Arabia and Iraq.
“My colleague’s amendment would cut off US funding to all of these countries, some of them strategic allies,” had it already been in effect when the visits were made, Lowey said.
Last March, the US announced that it is suspending $350 million allocated to Malawi through the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) citing reasons which included receiving Bashir last year.
This month Malawi’s new president Joyce Banda asked the African Union (AU) not to invite Bashir to this year’s summit hosted by her country for fear of its implications on aid Malawi receives.
The Sudanese president denies the ICC charges and refuses to recognise the jurisdiction of the court which he denigrates as a tool of neo-colonialism by the West.
- US suspends aid to Malawi over governance and receiving Sudanese president (alethonews.wordpress.com)
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