February 12, 2013 (WASHINGTON) – A US congressman on Tuesday sent a letter to incoming secretary of state John Kerry calling for the appointment of a new special envoy to Sudan, saying that peace efforts in the region need “reinvigorating”.
- U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) - (Getty Images)
“I urge you, among your first acts as secretary, to move swiftly to appoint a new Sudan special envoy to fill the vacancy left by Princeton Lyman’s announced departure,” representative Frank Wolf said in a letter to Kerry released by his office today.
Lyman resigned last December for what sources said was due to health reasons. The White House has not given any indication on whether it intends to replace him.
Wolf recommended the appointment of former senator Russ Feingold, whom he said “would be well-suited to the challenge”, adding that he “possesses both the stature and the knowledge necessary for the task at hand”.
“In September 2001, president Bush appointed senator Danforth as special envoy and his leadership was in fact instrumental in securing, after two-and-a-half years of negotiations, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), thereby bringing about an end to the war,” Wolf wrote.
“Danforth was a high-profile appointment. He had the ear of the president and the secretary and didn’t get bogged down in the department’s bureaucracy. He was uniquely positioned to negotiate and his stature, prior to taking the job, communicated a clear sense of urgency and priority on the part of the US. He didn’t require a sizeable staff, or even a full-time state department post, but the diplomatic feat he accomplished was nothing short of remarkable”.
The US lawmaker said that in the years that followed the CPA “America has rightly been viewed as a guarantor of the peace given how intimately involved we were in the CPA process”.
“Sadly, that peace is now in jeopardy,” said Wolf, a Republican from Virginia.
He noted the growing tensions between Sudan and its Southern neighbour which won its independence in July 2011.
“Tensions between Sudan and South Sudan are on the rise and nearing a tipping point. Thousands are starving in the Nuba Mountains. Refugees fleeing violence and seeking aid pour over the border into South Sudan. Low-grade genocide persists in Darfur. An internationally indicted war criminal remains at the helm in Khartoum and travels the globe with virtual impunity,” Wolf wrote.
“Our approach to Sudan and South Sudan needs reinvigorating. It demands a renewed sense of moral clarity about who we are dealing with in Khartoum - namely genocidaires. It necessitates someone who can speak candidly with our friends in South Sudan about their own internal challenges, including corruption, and shortcomings as a new nation”.
“While an envoy alone does not a policy make, a high-profile special envoy, from outside the department, with the knowledge and mandate to aggressively pursue peace, security and justice for the people of Sudan and South Sudan, is an important step in the right direction”.
Khartoum and Juba fought along their undemarcated frontier last year, sparking fears of wider war and prompting a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution ordering a ceasefire and African Union mediation.
The two ex-foes reached security and cooperation deals in September, but the implementation has been delayed primarily due to Sudan’s insistence on settling security issues first, primarily related to South Sudan’s alleged backing of Sudanese rebels and establishing a buffer zone.