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Activists Press Obama on Darfur

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Activists Press Obama on Darfur

Posted by Enough Team on August 25, 2009

This post originally appeared on the Political Intelligence blog at the Boston Globe.

The Bush State Department declared the horrific violence in Darfur a genocide. President Obama, as a candidate, pledged to do more.

But US policy toward Sudan seems to be in wait-and-see mode, so activists are going public today with their disappointment, trying to light a fire under the president.

A coalition of anti-genocide advocacy organizations launched a campaign called "Sudan Now: Keep the Promise" to challenge the Obama administration to live up to promises by taking strong and immediate action to help end the crisis in Sudan, where as many as 300,000 people have died and 2.7 million have been displaced.

The coalition — which includes Humanity United, the Enough Project at the Center for American Progress, Stop Genocide Now, and Investors Against Genocide — bought full-page ads in several newspapers to press home that message.

The ads feature past statements made by President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. The ads are to run in The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and two papers on Martha’s Vineyard, where Obama is vacationing this week.

(Click here to see an ad.)

The coalition says the situation in Sudan is urgent with nearly 3 million Darfuris living in squalid camps and the possibility of a full-scale civil war before a 2011 vote on splitting the country.

Some of the activists have been critical of Scott Gration, Obama’s special envoy to the Sudan, for what they see as too much emphasis on carrots for the Sudanese government to cooperate rather than sticks, or the threat of punitive action.

“On numerous occasions, President Obama has spoken eloquently — and firmly — about the urgency of the situation in Sudan and America’s responsibility to help bring lasting peace and stability to the people of that country,” Randy Newcomb, president and CEO of Humanity United, said in a statement. “Such conviction demands strong action.”