Group urges President Obama to appoint US special envoy for Sudan

 

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Candidate Barack Obama promised change to his supporters during the campaign

 

 

 

 

 

 

Genocide Intervention Network (GIN) has urged US President Barack Obama to seize on the momentum created by the ICC arrest warrant and act sooner rather than later on Sudan.

Sam Bell, director of GIN says it’s time for the President to honour his election pledges to do something about the ongoing crisis in Darfur, and give Sudan a special attention despite the economic crisis his administration is dealing with.

"As a candidate for president, Senator Obama said that he would pledge unstinting resolve to address the crisis in Sudan. And we are 50 days into his administration and we have envoys for North Korea, the Middle East, Afghanistan, Pakistan, (and) climate change and there is no one working the Sudan portfolio at a high level. And this is show time for the Obama administration in terms of global leadership," he said.

 Recently there have been reports in the media that the Obama administration is seriously considering establishing a US envoy for Sudan. Bell points to the success of the policy when the Bush administration appointed former Senator John Danforth to broker the Sudan peace, which he said led to the signing of the Sudan Comprehensive Peace Agreement. 

"That was a monumental achievement in Sudan and for American foreign policy,” he said to VOA.

“And that sort of achievement can be replicated in the case of Darfur and the Comprehensive Peace Agreement can be secured by a new envoy, if only that person would be appointed and if only that person would be a high level envoy, as was Senator Danforth.”

In January another group, the Enough Project, also called for the President to step up efforts to end the crises in Sudan and end the war in Darfur, rather than talking about them and undertake the following:

  •  Appoint the President’s Special Envoy who will own this issue so that individual can begin working as rapidly as possible, and clearly establish the mandate, role and authority of this envoy within the administration. Providing sufficient authority and support will be vital.
  • Identify two senior diplomats experienced in peacemaking to be the deputies to the President’s Special Envoy, one for Darfur and the other for the CPA.
  • Engage with key international actors to develop a practical and escalating menu of options for exerting leverage on the government of Sudan and rebel movements to create an environment conducive to credible negotiations.
  • Task relevant agencies, including the Pentagon and the U.S. Permanent Mission to the United Nations, to explore direct ways to make ongoing civilian protection efforts more effective, including steps to make UNAMID more robust and capable and to enforce a ban on offensive military flights.
  • Identify U.S. Foreign Service officers to staff a diplomatic cell that will be deployed to embassies in the region to work on these issues around the clock in the manner they deserve.
  • Work closely with interested parties with leverage in Sudan and the region, especially China, the United Kingdom, France, and key African countries, to coordinate efforts on the peace surge, protection of civilians, and accountability.

Bush administration is credited for bringing peace to Sudan. Analysts say how Obama responds to the deteriorating situation in the country would be a key test of his multilateralism that he has spoken about throughout the campaign for the Presidency. 

Sudan has been at war for much of its history and has only enjoyed a brief period of relative peace from 1972-1983 following the signing of the Addis Ababa Agreement in Ethiopia. The agreement gave southern Sudan its own semi-autonomous government.

Then in 1983, the government of Jaafar Nemeri abrogated the terms of the accord by issuing a decree calling for the Islamic Sharia to be the supreme law in the country, triggering a rebellion by the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLM/SPLA) in 1983.

After twenty years of civil war the SPLA/SPLM and then Government of Sudan, ruled by President Omar Hassan al-Bashir who came to power in 1989 in a military coup, the two sides signed an agreement in January 2005 called the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).

The agreement called for a coalition government before the referendum to be held in 2011 for southerners to decide whether to vote for independent southern Sudan or join the united Sudan. 

But just before the CPA was signed the Darfur people in western Sudan launched their own rebellion against the government, accusing it of marginalizing and neglecting the region.

The UN estimates more than 300, 000 people have been killed in Darfur since the war began in 2003, and 2 million have been displaced as IDPs or refugees. 

Last Wednesday, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for President Bashir for the crimes in Darfur. The government reacted by expelling aids organizations out of Darfur.

The African Union and Arab League want the ICC to extend the warrant for another year to give President Bashir more time to work for genuine peace in the country, they said.    


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