Since the announcement in February of Major General Scott Gration’s departure from the Sudan special envoy post, observers of U.S.-Sudan policy have been eager to learn who will be next to step up to bat. Former Ambassador Princeton Lyman, who has been part of the U.S. diplomatic team working on Sudan for the last six months, was announced as the new special envoy today.
Here’s an excerpt from the White House press release announcing the news:
With a lifetime of experience working on some of Africa’s most pressing challenges, Ambassador Lyman is uniquely qualified to sustain our efforts in support of a peaceful and prosperous future for the Sudanese people. (…) In his new capacity, Ambassador Lyman will oversee our support for full implementation of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, reduced tensions between north and south over the status of Abyei, the birth of an independent South Sudan on July 9, 2011, and a definitive end to the conflict in Darfur. In those efforts, he has my full support and confidence.
In August 2010, Ambassador Lyman was appointed as the lead U.S. negotiator on North-South issues and has been involved in talks on the economic, political, and security arrangements between North and South Sudan after secession. The former ambassador has also worked to push the two parties toward resolution on the status of the restive region of Abyei and to implement popular consultations in the two border states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile.
Despite a successful South Sudan referendum in January, the Sudan portfolio has not grown any slimmer. Key post-referendum issues remain unresolved while violence in South Sudan and Abyei has peaked in the months since the secession vote, and governance issues in northern Sudan and the new state of southern Sudan pose immediate challenges as July 9 quickly approaches. On Darfur, Lyman will be supported by former Ambassador Dane Smith, who has served as the U.S. lead on Darfur peace talks since December. Despite recent progress preparing for a new round of talks in Doha, the western region has recently seen an unprecedented wave of displacement as a result of continued government-sponsored violence.
“Ambassador Lyman contributed significantly to a smooth referendum in South Sudan and takes on his new post at a defining moment in Sudan's history. The appointment of a such a veteran U.S. diplomat with a long record of negotiating peace in Africa sends a strong message that the Obama administration is serious about prioritizing Sudan," said Enough Executive Director John Bradshaw.
Sudan Now reacted to this afternoon’s news with a press release.