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House Subcommittee Hearing Reviews U.S. Sudan Policy

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House Subcommittee Hearing Reviews U.S. Sudan Policy

Posted by John Prendergast on December 3, 2009

Testifying before the House Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health today at a hearing to review the administration’s new Sudan policy, I expressed the Enough Project’s deep concern that the existing strategy of the United States and the broader international community to prevent all-out war in Sudan is failing.

One month after the release of the Obama administration’s new policy, the situation on the ground has further deteriorated, with life or death implications.

Central to the administration’s new policy is support for full implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, or CPA, as U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan Scott Gration reiterated in his testimony today.

To date, not one of the CPA’s preconditions for holding credible elections has been met. The risks of ignoring preconditions and holding a non-credible election are enormous.

Non-credible elections should not be financed and legitimized by American taxpayers. Until the parties meet the agreed conditions for a credible election, the United States and broader international community should suspend all electoral assistance.

However, efforts should continue to put in place the conditions for the January 2011 referendum, including the passage of the referendum law by the National Assembly before it adjourns. Not holding the referendum on time is the most certain trigger for all-out war.

It is time for President Obama to implement his administration’s own benchmark-based policy. The U.S. should work within and outside the U.N. Security Council to develop a coalition of countries willing to impose consequences on the ruling National Congress Party for its obstruction of basic conditions for peace.

Consequences should include ratcheting up targeted multilateral sanctions, enforcement of the arms embargo, denial of debt relief, and greater support for further International Criminal Court investigations and indictments. Similar consequences should await senior SPLM officials and Darfur rebel leaders if they are found to be undermining peace as well.

As outlined in Enough’s latest report on Sudan, there is a path to peace for the parties, one in which the United States has a major role to play. Without an immediate and firm response from the international community, led by the United States, full-scale nationwide war is both imminent and inevitable.