Thursday, 3 January 2008

Dubya drives Darfur disinvestment

How's that for alliteration? Full story here.

CRAWFORD, Texas (Reuters) - President George W. Bush on Monday signed into a law a measure aimed at allowing states, local governments, mutual funds and pension funds to divest from Sudan businesses, particularly its oil sectors.

Some 20 U.S. states have initiated divestment efforts because of the conflict in Sudan's Darfur region, which has taken some 200,000 lives and displaced some 2.5 million since rebels took up arms against the government in 2003.

But the effort in Illinois was challenged in court so the new law seeks to provide a legal framework for divestment from companies involved in Sudan's oil industry, mineral extraction, power production and the production of military equipment.

Bush has called the deaths in the Darfur conflict genocide, a charge the Sudanese government has rejected.

"My administration will continue its efforts to bring about significant improvements in the conditions in Sudan through sanctions against the government of Sudan and high-level diplomatic engagement and by supporting the deployment of peacekeepers in Darfur," Bush said in a statement.

But at the same time, he argued some provisions of the new law could interfere with his ability to conduct foreign policy and therefore he would "construe and enforce this legislation in a manner that does not conflict with that authority."

White House spokesman Scott Stanzel said the administration would review divestment policies adopted by states and local governments to ensure they are consistent with the president's foreign policy and take action if necessary.

But Stanzel stressed that Bush signed the measure because "the president broadly agrees with the aim of the sponsors, that doing business with Sudan should be discouraged."

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