February 13, 2009

To listen to U.S. news one would think that the economic crisis was the government’s sole concern. But this week two roundtable events were held in congressional office buildings, highlighting Sudan’s crises and considering ways to move ahead with a more muscular policy.

Conflicting reports of a arrest warrant for Sudan’s President Omer al-Bashir by ICC and news that the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) of 2005 between the North and the South was faltering brought about the new concern.

At a meeting of four members of Congress, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom suggested creating security guarantees for Southern Sudan in order to deter a renewal of the North/South civil war. “The key to making CPA implementation a reality is to put Southern Sudan in a position where it has leverage,” said Commissioner Leonard Leo in an interview.

The Commission, a government agency created by Congress in order to advise the State Department, made its recommendations to Secretary Hilary Clinton. The Commission also recommended that a new Special Envoy be appointed to Sudan, someone with the necessary stature to emphasize the priority of Sudanese peace and stability to the new Administration.

Congressional members attending: Chris Smith (R-NJ), Frank Wolf (R-VA), Donald Payne (D-NJ) and Barbara Lee (D-CA)

A group of four Senators met for a roundtable discussion, hosted by the Senate Foreign Relation Committee. They discussed the importance of a Special Envoy for Sudan and the need for the US to help lead efforts to implement the North/South peace agreement (CPA).

Senator Kerry said that he had met with Secretary Clinton that morning and disclosed that she was favorable toward the concept of a no-fly zone and other “concrete steps.” He added, “To the degree that anyone is listening, particularly Khartoum, I hope they will understand, no matter what happens with the ICC, that there is a moment here to try to change the dynamics and begin to move responsibly. I am absolutely confident that this administration is going to focus on this issue and I personally am interested in this no-fly zone concept.”

Senators attending: Senator John Kerry (D-MA), Senator Feingold (D-WI), Senator Cardin (D-MD), Senator Kaufman (D-DE).

Source: Feb. 13, 2009

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