Africa Action Talking Points on a New U.S.-Sudan Policy

Linked on our blogs with Africa Action. – Published on Africa Action, December 2009.

Introduction: Since the beginning of his presidency, President Obama has taken two important strides in his commitment to peace and justice in Darfur & all Sudan:

  • The first positive step was the creation of a full time U.S. Presidential envoy, which has long been recommended by the human rights community including Africa Action, through which to pursue diplomatic efforts.
  • Secondly, in October 2009 the administration announced a new policy strategy toward Sudan that aims for a more comprehensive approach.

It appears to be results driven and contain encouraging rhetoric regarding a renewed “focus on ending the suffering in Darfur, and building a lasting peace.” This includes a call of “accountability for genocide and atrocities [as] necessary for reconciliation and lasting peace” … // 

… The U.S. must actively pursue an all-Sudan strategy where both Darfur and the CPA are top priorities. A return to war between North and South Sudan would be a humanitarian disaster in and of itself and would doom hopes of peace and security in Darfur. The CPA stipulates that Sudan hold national elections by July 2009. Serious challenges emerged while conducting the national census in 2008 that will affect the fair  representation of the citizens of Darfur and South Sudan in these polls. Adherence to the timeline laid out in the CPA is of particular importance to Southerners because of the 2011 referendum on whether South Sudan will remain part of the country or secede as an independent nation.

The U.S should do what it can in the short timeframe before polls occur to promote elections that are as free and fair as possible while vigorously preparing for contingencies around different possible scenarios in what is looks certain to be highly contested elections. U.S. development assistance should prioritize widespread social and economic development programs such as healthcare, education and food security across Southern Sudan, rather than military assistance. Violence and instability are less likely to erupt around flawed or contested elections if Southerners feel they are experiencing “peace dividends” – tangible economic and social benefits linked to the CPA. The chance of full inclusion of Darfuris in the election is unlikely. Jumpstarting political negotiations between Darfuri rebels, the government and civil society leaders is the best thing the U.S. can do to help Darfuris gain an expanded voice in their governance structures. (full 2 pages text in pdf).

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