Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Council OKs Sudan divestiture

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Montgomery County Council voted to divest itself from any investments that do business in Sudan as a way to pressure the African country to end atrocities in Darfur.

Councilman Mark Elrich (D-At large) of Takoma Park said the council agreed a ‘‘high threshold” should be met before it takes an unusual step as to divest from any companies doing business in a country.

‘‘Certainly genocide is something we can all agree is something that we should do all possible to stop,” Elrich said.

More than 2 million are estimated by the United Nations to have been killed in Sudan in the fighting between rebels and the Sudanese government that began in 2003.

Divestment does not come without costs to the county. Divestment is expected to increase the county’s return on investment by 0.1 percent in order to higher costs associated with monitoring their investments to divest from companies that do work in Sudan, requiring an additional $2.7 million in contributions from the county into the county employee retirement fund.