Renewed Call for US Special Envoy for Sudan
By Joe DeCapua
10 March 2009
With the International Criminal Court arrest warrant for Sudanese President al-Bashir and the expulsion of aid agencies, there's a renewed call for a US special envoy for Sudan.
It comes from the Genocide Intervention Network, where Sam Bell is director of advocacy. In Washington, he says that President Obama must follow words with action.
"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 says.
The Genocide Intervention Network says that with the expulsion of aid agencies from Sudan, one million people risk losing food, water and health care in Darfur. "When we talk about global leadership, this is it. This is game time and we don't have a team in place to confront this crisis," says Bell.
He also says that despite the many crises facing Mr. Obama at this time, Sudan should receive a high level attention. "If we're going to wait until all the problems in the economy or all the other problems of the world are solved before we take on genocide and mass atrocities, we're going to be waiting for a long time and a lot of people are going to perish in the meantime."
Bell says that reports several weeks ago indicated that the Obama administration was considering a special envoy for Sudan. The Bush administration had appointed three of them, including former senator John Danforth, who helped broker the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, ending the long civil war between northern and southern Sudan.
"That was a monumental achievement in Sudan and for American foreign policy. 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," he says.
Bell is not recommending any candidates for the post, but says that person must be a trusted confidante of both President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton.
"The Sudanese are not ignorant. They know who's high level. They know who has power and influence in Washington, DC. They know who had the ear of the previous president and they'll know who has the ear of this president. So, we can't get away with a minor appointment to this critical position," he says.
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