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Activists protest at White House ahead of Senators’ arrival in Khartoum

May 24, 2009 (WASHINGTON) – Dozens of US activists and members of the Sudanese diaspora marched in front of the White House on Friday just days before two members of the US Senate arrived in Khartoum to meet with top aides of President Omer Al-Bashir.

Protestors held signs saying “Save Lives Now”, “El Bashir & NCP to ICC”, “Restore Aid Now,” and “End the Genocide.”

The activists believe that the Government of Sudan is responsible for attempting to eliminate three ethnic groups in western Sudan, where violence has caused roughly three million people to flee their homes, according to UN agencies operating in Sudan and Chad.

William Deng, of the Southern Sudan Project, said he voted for Barack Obama because of his position on Darfur but is disappointed that the President has done nothing for Darfur.

Coincidentally, a simultaneous protest was being held by members of the Tamil ethnic minority of Sri Lanka, where a humanitarian crisis has been unfolding as government forces sought to crush the last fighters of the so-called Tamil Tigers.

Participants were invited to join a discussion afterwards at a nearby policy institution. Speakers included William Deng, Niemat Ahmadi of Save Darfur Coalition and Omer Ismail of Enough Project.

SENATE DELEGATION ARRIVES

Two members of the US Senate, Senator Johnny Isakson of Georgia, and Senator Robert Corker of Tennessee, arrived in Khartoum on Sunday at noon for two day visit.

The official SUNA reported ahead of the visit that the Republican Senators will meet with the senior figures of the Sudanese government, including 2nd Vice President Ali Osman Taha, Senior Presidential Assistant Nafi Ali Nafi, and Presidential Assistant Ghazi Salaheddin.

Corker is deputy chairman of the US Senate Subcommittee on African Affairs, and his visit follows that of the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, Senator John Kerry.

According to the government agency, they will also call on the National Security and Intelligence Director, Gen. Salah Abdalla Gosh, who visited the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) headquarters in Langley, Virginia in 2005.

Corker in a statement at the airport referred to the close cooperation between his country and Sudan with regard to the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) and holding of the coming elections.

"Senator Isakson also said that he is visiting Sudan for the first time, hoping that Sudan and the United States would be able to surpass the differences facing normalization of the bilateral relations,” stated SUNA.

The visit comes as the US State Department seeks to energize a peace process for Darfur and pressure rebel groups into talks with the government.

(ST)