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Former U.S. envoys urge Congress to support permanent lift of sanctions on Sudan

July 1, 2017 (KHARTOUM) - The former U.S. envoys to Sudan Princeton Lyman and Donald Booth have called on the Congress to support the five-track engagement plan with the Sudanese government urging legislatures to not take actions that could undermine the plan.

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Princeton Lyman (Reuters)

Washington is involved in a five-track engagement process with the Sudan over the permanent lift of sanctions. By the 12 July, based on an interagency report including the State Department the President Donald Trump is expected to issue a decision on whether to maintain or to remove the lift of economic sanctions on Sudan.

The five-track process includes the fight against terrorism, Uganda’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), Sudan’s role in the peace process in South Sudan, Sudan’s peace and the humanitarian situation in the South Kordofan and Blue Nile states.

In a letter sent to the members of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs at the House of Representatives on Thursday, the former envoys along with the former U.S. Chargé d’Affaires to Sudan Jerry Lanier urged “caution in rushing any new legislative action” that might undermine progress on the strategy.

“We believe that now is not the time for legislation that would complicate our sanctions regime and confuse our diplomatic strategy. Introducing new benchmarks—especially those that cannot be effectively measured or achieved—will not help us in realising our objectives,” read the letter.

The former envoys pointed that the engagement plan “represents an acknowledgement that sanctions alone had long failed to produce the changes we all hope to see”, urging Congress and Trump Administration to show unity in carrying forward the plan, and in turning early progress into sustained reform.

“Progress on the agreed tracks in this first phase of engagement, and lifting the agreed sanctions, moves the U.S and Sudan to the next phase of engagement, to include more steps toward respect for human rights, sustained humanitarian access, and a lasting peace,” read the letter.

“Stopping the process now would undermine progress to date and prevent forward movement. It would also bind the hands of the new administration and erase the momentum it has inherited,” it added.

The former envoys warned that any delay in the implementation of the five-track process “would damage U.S. credibility and squander the opportunity now before us”.

They further said “we must continue to work with those who seek long-term reform and Sudan’s re-integration into the global community. And we must avoid doing any favours for Sudanese hardliners who represent the worst of the government, and who oppose the very objectives we are seeking to achieve”.

Last month, Bloomberg, a business and market news agency, cited an anonymous source familiar with the decision as saying key aides to the U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have recommended full lift of sanctions.

Also, sources in Washington say the security agencies, CIA and FBI, and the U.S Army strongly back the lift of sanctions saying that cooperation with Khartoum is crucial for America strategic interests.

Rights groups and activists plead for a delay of sanctions in order to improve human rights records and promote democratic reforms.

Observers point that the failure of opposition groups to sign a humanitarian cessation of hostilities agreement supported by the State Department weakened any effort in this direction and propelled arguments put forward by the security agencies.

(ST)