Time is running out to salvage a peace accord that ended Africa's longest-running war, a key U.S. official said Wednesday, but he rejected suggestions that the Obama administration is not paying enough attention to the political turmoil in Sudan.
Retired Air Force Maj. Gen. J. Scott Gration, the special envoy to Sudan, acknowledged to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that preparations for a critical element of the peace accord -- a referendum on independence for southern Sudan -- are behind schedule. Many analysts fear that southern Sudan's secession could result in renewed fighting.
Rights Groups Respond to Today’s Testimony by Obama Administration’s Envoy to Sudan
Why the U.S. Must Exert More Pressure and Hold Parties Accountable to Prevent a Return to Full-Scale War
WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a hearing today before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the U.S. special envoy to Sudan, retired Major General Scott Gration, testified on the Obama administration’s approach to Sudan. Four leading anti-genocide and Sudan advocacy organizations -- the Enough Project at the Center for American Progress, American Jewish World Service, Genocide Intervention Network, and the Save Darfur Coalition– jointly issued the following statement in response.
The Special Envoy rightly emphasizes the urgency and enormity of issues to be addressed in the brief period before the scheduled January independence referendum for South Sudan. Yet, it is perplexing to hear the Special Envoy maintain that he has all the resources he currently needs to do his job in both South Sudan and Darfur. Since the Sudanese peace process remains stagnant, while risk of a return to full-scale, national war grows and a referendum to split Africa’s largest country draws near, the Obama administration should introduce the consequences and pressures it promised for the lack of measurable progress and continued backsliding on key benchmarks. President Obama should empower Secretary of State Clinton and Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice to provide their personal, sustained leadership in implementing the policy and renew a diplomatic push for peace, backed by pressure-based leverage.
Committee Chairman Senator John Kerry was blunt in expressing concern that the U.S. government needs to do more and more at senior levels to help divert potential disaster. “You need increased leverage,” Senator Kerry told the Special Envoy, noting that the Director of National Intelligence has warned that Sudan is the country most at risk of a new genocide or round of mass atrocities. Through the implementation of its own pressure- and incentive-based policy, the Obama administration could create real leverage in pursuit of peace.
John Norris, Executive Director of the Enough Project, commented, “While it was welcome to hear the Special Envoy condemn renewed Sudanese Government attacks in Darfur for what seems to be the first time, there still seems to be a real reluctance to take concrete measures and impose tangible costs for Sudanese President al-Bashir’s continued abuses -- ranging from attacks on civilians to stealing the national election. In order to prevent a return to full-scale, national war, the U.S. must marshal more resources, exert more pressure, and hold all parties accountable.”
“We appreciate General Gration’s honesty today in assessing the dangerous realities that currently exist in Darfur and the enormous challenges that lie ahead for the people of Sudan,” said Mark Lotwis, Acting President of the Save Darfur Coalition. “Before it’s too late and the referendum becomes as disastrous as the recent elections, General Gration, Secretary of State Clinton and Ambassador Rice must begin working with international partners and start putting points on the board. They must put sufficient pressure on all parties to protect millions of civilians in Sudan still at risk of violence, implement the final stages of the 2005 peace agreement on time, and restore the rule of law and democratic governance so the Sudanese people can finally control their own destinies.”
“General Gration’s repeated assertion that success will require a truly international response underscores the need for personal leadership at the top levels of the Obama administration,” said American Jewish World Service President Ruth Messinger. “Our government must send a clear signal that peace and security for millions in Sudan is a priority and that the administration’s Sudan policy of incentives and disincentives will be fully implemented.”
“While we welcome the effort at today’s hearing to raise Sudan as a priority following the rigged elections, Special Envoy Gration’s testimony was short on critical details about the Obama administration’s plans to implement the Sudan policy,” states Mark Hanis, President of Genocide Intervention Network. “We need transparency around key benchmarks if we are going to avert bigger crises as we approach the 2011 referendum.”
Enough is a project of the Center for American Progress to end genocide and crimes against humanity. Founded in 2007, Enough focuses on crises in Sudan, eastern Congo, northern Uganda, and Somalia. Enough’s strategy papers and briefings provide sharp field analysis and targeted policy recommendations based on a “3P” crisis response strategy: promoting durable peace, providing civilian protection, and punishing perpetrators of atrocities. Enough works with concerned citizens, advocates, and policy makers to prevent, mitigate, and resolve these crises. For more information, please visit www.enoughproject.org
American Jewish World Service (AJWS) is an international development organization motivated by Judaism's imperative to pursue justice. AJWS is dedicated to alleviating poverty, hunger and disease among the people of the developing world regardless of race, religion or nationality. Through grants to grassroots organizations, volunteer service, advocacy and education, AJWS fosters civil society, sustainable development and human rights for all people, while promoting the values and responsibilities of global citizenship within the Jewish community. Visit www.ajws.org
Genocide Intervention Network empowers individuals and communities with the tools to prevent and stop genocide. Currently focused on conflicts in Sudan, Burma and Democratic Republic of Congo, among other areas of concern, Genocide Intervention Network envisions a world in which the global community is willing and able to protect civilians from genocide and mass atrocities. The organization is building a permanent anti-genocide constituency, mobilizing the political will to prevent and stop genocide. For more information, please visit www.genocideintervention.net
The Save Darfur Coalition –an alliance of more than 190 faith-based, advocacy and human rights organizations – raises public awareness about the ongoing crisis in Darfur and mobilizes a unified response to promote peace throughout the Darfur region and all of Sudan. The coalition’s member organizations represent 130 million people of all ages, races, religions and political affiliations united together to help the people of Sudan. Please join the movement at www.SaveDarfur.org
Sudan risks war without US pressure
BY AGENCE PRESSE FRANCE
WASHINGTON, Apr 29 - Sudan risks a return to violence if President Barack Obama's administration does not pressure parties on the ground to work for peace, a group of eight NGOs wrote in a report released Thursday.
"A return to full-scale war can be headed off... but only if the Obama administration quickly implements its policy to pressure parties who are backsliding on benchmarks crucial to a durable peace in Sudan," the coalition of non-governmental organizations wrote.
Obama announced in October that the United States would engage in more active diplomacy with Sudan's regime, offering incentives for engagement while retaining the threat of sanctions if Khartoum continued to pursue what the United States has termed genocide in the Darfur region.
John Norris, director of the Enough Project, warned that "a clear assessment of the situation on the ground in Sudan reveals a number of disturbing trends and the continued potential for much broader, renewed violence."
"The Obama administration built a diplomatic approach to Sudan around periodic, hard-nosed policy assessments of the situation on the ground," the NGOs wrote. "Yet to date, there are virtually no indications that the administration has held any of the parties to account for their actions."
"It's been six months since President Obama’s Sudan policy went into effect and there has been no demonstrable progress towards peace, security, or justice in Sudan," added Mark Lotwis of the Save Darfur Coalition.
"It's time for the administration to back its words with deeds," he added.
Sudan's President Omar al-Beshir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes in Darfur, was reelected on Monday with 68.24 percent of the vote in an election marred by opposition boycotts, allegations of fraud and questions from monitors about transparency. Read More >>
Sudan Now Campaign Calls on Secretary Clinton and Ambassador Rice to Make Sudan a Priority and Personally Lead U.S. Policy for Africa’s Largest Country
State Department officials’ leadership needed to guide Obama administration’s stalled policy on Sudan
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Following this month’s flawed national elections in Sudan, a group of anti-genocide and human rights organizations is calling on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice to increase their oversight of the faltering U.S. policy on Sudan.
The organizations are making the call as part of the Sudan Now campaign, which is running a series of print ads beginning today in the Washington Post and Washington Express, and in Politico on Wednesday. Sudan Now is concerned that the current implementation of the six-month-old U.S. policy on Sudan has not addressed a number of troubling developments, including clear indications that the national election held earlier this month was neither free nor fair, ongoing government attacks in recent months have killed hundreds and displaced thousands, and ongoing obstruction by the Government of Sudan in access for aid workers and UN investigators to Darfur. Meanwhile, the country faces a vote for southern independence in January 2011—a possible trigger to a return to civil war.
“Sudan is entering into a critical period, with the aftermath of the elections still upon us and a referendum on southern Sudan’s independence immediately ahead. Secretary Clinton and Ambassador Rice need to get personally engaged if the United States wants to avoid a return to widespread bloodshed in Sudan,” said Randy Newcomb, president and CEO of Humanity United. “Only high-level engagement can ensure that the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement is fully implemented and the international community acts together to ensure peace in Africa’s largest nation. The administration laid out a promising policy last year—it is time for President Obama and his top advisers to fully implement it.”
The Obama administration’s Sudan policy, announced in October 2009, clearly stated that tough benchmarks would be applied to Sudan, and that a committee of deputies from various cabinet agencies would assess progress “based on verifiable changes in conditions on the ground.” However, neither the administration nor the deputies’ review process have addressed the many disturbing developments on the ground:
·National elections that were neither free nor fair.
·A continuing offensive in Jebel Marra in Darfur that has killed hundreds and displaced thousands, and continued inability for relief organizations to access this area.
·Ongoing violence and clashes in South Sudan that have claimed more than 2,000 lives in the last year and driven a quarter-million people from their homes.
·Ongoing violations of a U.N. arms embargo on Darfur by both the Government of Sudan and rebel groups.
·The resistance of the Government of Sudan to cooperate in any form with the International Criminal Court investigating war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide in Sudan.
“Any fair reading of the situation on the ground in Sudan should make clear that the benchmarks established for Sudan by the Obama Administration simply have not been met,” said John Norris, executive director of the Enough Project. “If the administration turns a blind eye to such backsliding, the likelihood of greater conflict will only grow.”
“Looking to the future, Secretary Clinton and Ambassador Rice must push hard for a peace process that not only includes the government of Sudan and rebel leaders, but also the voices of Sudanese civil society. Concrete and lasting peace that addresses the root cause of the conflict can only be achieved by including all those who have a stake in the outcome—not just armed parties,” said Mark Lotwis, acting president of the Save Darfur Coalition. “One step the United States must insist on immediately is for the new government in Khartoum to open its doors to independent human rights monitoring and to stop harassing domestic human rights activists.”
Sudan Now is a campaign led by a group of prominent anti-genocide and human rights advocacy organizations committed to bringing meaningful and lasting peace to Sudan and encouraging strong American leadership and action to achieve this goal. The campaign challenges President Barack Obama and top U.S. administration officials to live up to their promises to take strong and immediate action to help end the international crisis in Sudan and bring a lasting peace to the people of that country.
Opposition candidates have withdrawn from the presidential race claiming it will be rigged [AFP]
Sudan's controversial elections will go ahead this month, the deputy head of the country's election commission has said.
The announcement came less than a day after one of Sudan's largest opposition parties said it would not take part in the polls unless the government agreed to a four-week delay to the vote.
"The National Elections Commission (NEC) is working to have the elections on the dates we specified on April 11, 12, 13," Abdallah Ahmed Abdallah of the NEC told reporters on Saturday.
The opposition Umma Party had said that unless the government met eight key demands, including a delay to the vote by April 6, it would boycott all parts of the presidential and legislative elections.
If it follows through on its threat, the party will join other major opposition groups who have withdrawn candidates from the presidential race in protest against the vote they say is "rigged" in favour of Omar al-Bashir, the incumbent president
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Even as violence continues in the Jebel Marra area of Darfur, negotiators in the Qatari city of Doha are attempting to hammer out a peace deal for this western region of Sudan. While some observers have hailed these talks between rebel forces and the Government of Sudan as a major breakthrough, there are numerous reasons why enthusiasm should be tempered argues ‘The Darfur Peace Process: Recipe for a Bad Deal?,’ a short report from the Enough Project at the Center for American Progress.
Enough’s report on the Doha peace process builds upon an update that Enough released at the start of negotiations. Close monitoring of the highly fluid Doha peace process over the past month reveals a dramatic disconnect between the deal brokering in Qatar and the reality of violence on the ground in Darfur. Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir’s declaration that “the war in Darfur” is over cannot be taken at face value.
There is tangible evidence -- including the fact that the army is pursuing an offensive in Jebel Marra --that Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party, or NCP, continues to negotiate in bad faith, the strategy paper notes. The Government of Sudan has a strong interest in appearing conciliatory, not least because it hopes to legitimize itself in time for the elections now just days away, but its actions on the ground have worsened in recent weeks. Furthermore, tensions within and among rebel groups, fragile and shifting alliances, and a lack of transparency have characterized the Doha negotiations to date.
“The Doha process is hampered by backroom deals that put the Sudanese government in a strong, omniscient position while rebel groups jockey for temporary advantages, with little consideration for how their lack of unity leaves them collectively susceptible to government manipulation,” says Enough Project Advisor Omer Ismail, who travels regularly to the region. “With so many players clamoring for short-term gains without comprehensive knowledge or long-term outlooks, I fear we will see a replay of the 2006 Abuja talks’ failure.”
“There is much in the recent talks to suggest they are not built for success,” says John Norris, the Enough Project’s Executive Director. “The current Doha process replicates many of the exact same mistakes of earlier failed agreements at a time when the international community, frankly, should know better.”
The Center for American Progress is a nonpartisan research and educational institute dedicated to promoting a strong, just and free America that ensures opportunity for all. We believe that Americans are bound together by a common commitment to these values and we aspire to ensure that our national policies reflect these values. Enough is a project of the Center for American Progress to end genocide and crimes against humanity. Founded in 2007, Enough focuses on crises in Sudan, Chad, eastern Congo, northern Uganda, Somalia, and Zimbabwe. Enough’s strategy papers and briefings provide sharp field analysis and targeted policy recommendations based on a “3P” crisis response strategy: promoting durable peace, providing civilian protection, and punishing perpetrators of atrocities. Enough works with concerned citizens, advocates, and policy makers to prevent, mitigate, and resolve these crises. For more information, contact Jonathan Hutson, jhutson [AT] enoughproject.org, 202-386-1618.
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KHARTOUM, Sudan – Sudan's first multiparty elections in decades have been thrown into disarray by allegations of government violations and opposition threats of a boycott. The disputes wreck hopes of transforming a conflict-plagued nation and could instead end up fueling violence in Darfur and the south.
The election, set to begin April 11, had been billed as a chance to bring democracy to Sudan and start to heal a history of turmoil: 50 years of civil war between north and south that killed 2 million people, repeated military coups, and years of violence in the western Darfur region that the U.S. called the 21st century's first genocide and that brought international war crimes charges against the president, Omar al-Bashir.
KHARTOUM, Sudan — Sudan's major opposition parties threatened late on Thursday a total boycott of the country's first multiparty elections in decades, citing irregularities and government bias.
Opposition leaders gave themselves 24 hours to consult with their parties before making a final decision. A boycott would shatter the credibility of the landmark contests which were meant to stabilize the fractious country and could spark renewed unrest and bloodshed.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – As Sudan’s national election descends into crisis amid growing opposition boycotts, U.S.-based Darfuris and policy experts from Sudan Now, a campaign led by a group of prominent anti-genocide and human rights organizations, are calling for Congress to step up its oversight of the current U.S. Sudan policy. The group is launching a social media campaign today to encourage leading members of Congress to privately and publicly engage with the Obama administration on Sudan.
“At this critical moment for Sudan, Congress should hold the administration responsible for faithful implementation of the Sudan policy released last October,” states Sam Bell, Executive Director of the Genocide Intervention Network.
According to the Sudan Now campaign, the current implementation of U.S. Sudan policy has not addressed a number of extremely concerning developments on the ground including Sudanese government attacks on Jebel Marra that have killed hundreds and displaced thousands in recent weeks, ongoing obstruction by the national government in access for aid workers and UN investigators to Darfur, and clear indications that the nationwide elections scheduled for April will be neither free nor fair.
“There have been any number of disturbing developments on the ground in Sudan, yet the reaction from the administration has been remarkably muted,” states John Norris, Executive Director of the Enough Project at the Center for American Progress. “A wide range of a Sudanese and international experts have clearly determined that the national election scheduled for this month will be neither free nor fair, and recent government attacks in Darfur have driven tens of thousands of innocent civilians from their homes. Yet, senior administration officials appear badly divided on their approach to Sudan at a time when coherent international leadership toward Sudan is more vital than ever.”
The Obama administration’s Sudan policy, announced in October 2009, clearly stated that tough benchmarks would be applied to Sudan, and that a committee of deputies from various cabinet agencies would assess progress “based on verifiable changes in conditions on the ground.” However, neither the administration nor the deputies’ review process have addressed the many concerning developments on the ground. These developments also include ongoing violence and clashes in South Sudan that have claimed more than 2,000 lives in the last year and driven a quarter-million people from their homes, ongoing violations of a U.N. arms embargo on Darfur by both the Government of Sudan and rebel groups, and the resistance of the Government of Sudan to cooperate in any form with the International Criminal Court investigating war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide in Sudan.
“It is time for the United States Government to support, encourage, and assist the ICC in moving forward on its indictment of Omar Bashir to afford both accuser and accused their rightful day in court, “states Abdelgabar Adam, President of Darfur Human Rights Organization. “Justice needs to be served through open to public scrutiny on the issues of whether human rights violations were committed by Mr. Bashir.”
“The people of Darfur want nothing more than to lead a normal life,” states Mohamed Suleiman, a Darfuri and the President of the San Francisco Bay Area Darfur Coalition. “They’d like to see their children grow up in a secure and peaceful Darfur. The international community, for eight consecutive years, has failed to make that possible. In fact, as each year has passed, Darfuris have come to realize that the international community caters to the need of the brutal regime in Khartoum rather than working in earnest to see a lasting peace in Darfur with security and justice for the people of Darfur.”
Sudan Now is a campaign led by a group of prominent anti-genocide and human rights advocacy organizations committed to bringing meaningful and lasting peace to Sudan and encouraging strong American leadership and action to achieve this goal. The campaign challenges President Barack Obama and top U.S. administration officials to live up to their promises to take strong and immediate action to help end the international crisis in Sudan and bring a lasting peace to the people of that country. Organizations participating in the campaign include Humanity United, the Enough Project at the Center for American Progress, Genocide Intervention Network, Stop Genocide Now, and Investors Against Genocide.
West silent over Darfur crisis despite risk of spiralling violence
24 Mar 2010 15:31:00 GMT
By Alex Whiting
London (AlertNet) - There's a deafening silence over the humanitarian crisis in Sudan's Darfur region. Few on the ground are talking and the powers that be are pushing out a single line - the war between Darfur rebels and the government is over.
This statement does not tell the whole story, experts say. Widespread fighting may have eased, but the humanitarian crisis continues and insecurity poses serious problems for aid workers and peacekeepers. Fighting is still uprooting thousands of civilians, and another 2.6 million are living in worsening conditions in displacement camps.
Those who could challenge the government line are international aid agencies, but they fear being expelled, while Western governments and the media have shifted their focus to the fragile north-south peace process as it reaches a critical stage.
The country's first multi-party elections in 24 years are due next month and in January 2011 south Sudan is to vote on whether to secede from the north. If the oil-rich south does vote for independence, many experts say the north may not give up without a fight - despite government assurances to the contrary.