( Reuters ) - The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations on Tuesday strongly criticized Sudan's decision to promote to a government post a man Washington has accused of coordinating Darfur's marauding militias.
Sudan said over the weekend that Musa Hilal, one of four men subjected to travel restrictions and asset freezes in a 2006 U.N. Security Council resolution on Darfur, had been picked as an adviser to Federal Affairs Minister Abdel Basit Sabderat.
Washington says Hilal is the coordinator of the Janjaweed militias accused of war crimes in Sudan's Darfur region. He denies atrocities and says he mobilized his tribesmen to defend their lands after a government call to "popular defense."
"The regime in Khartoum shows contempt for the rule of law," U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad told reporters. "The man is not only on the U.N. sanctions list but also on the U.S. list. So it is totally unacceptable."
Speaking in Turkey on Monday, Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir dismissed criticism of Hilal, saying he had "contributed greatly to stability and security in the region."
"In Sudan we don't think the claims against Hilal are true," he said. "The people who really commit murders in Darfur are receiving help from Europe and others."
Khalilzad said he would bring up the issue of Hilal on Tuesday at a meeting with the other four permanent members of the Security Council -- Britain, France, Russia and China.
"We'll discuss it today," he said. "We have a P-5 meeting on this issue among ourselves, on the Sudan situation."
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon plans to meet Bashir on the sidelines of an African Union summit next week to discuss delays in deploying a joint U.N.-AU peacekeeping mission.
Sudan's ambassador to the United Nations, Abdalmahmoud Abdalhaleem, told reporters that if Ban brings up Hilal at the meeting, Bashir will tell him that Khartoum does not listen to outside parties when filling government posts.
"We will tell anybody who talks to us about this that this is not his business and they should respect the sovereignty of the country," he said.
The 5-year-old conflict in western Sudan has created what U.N. officials call the world's worst humanitarian crisis, with an estimated 200,000 dead and 2.5 million driven from their homes. Khartoum says the West is exaggerating the severity of the conflict.
Mostly non-Arab rebels in Darfur took up arms in early 2003 accusing Sudan's central government of neglect. Khartoum mobilized mostly Arab tribes to quell the revolt.