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In Letter, Congressmen Voice Concern about Sudan Policy

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In Letter, Congressmen Voice Concern about Sudan Policy

Posted by Meghna Raj on September 29, 2009

In Letter, Congressmen Voice Concern about Sudan Policy

In a hard-hitting letter to President Obama, co-chairs of the Congressional Sudan Caucus provided a list of reasons why they are “deeply concerned” about the U.S. policy toward to Sudan. Committee Co-Chairs, Congressmen Michael E. Capuano (D-MA), Frank Wolf (R-VA), Donald M. Payne (D-NJ), and Michael T. McCaul (R-TX), sent their letter to the president on Friday, urging him to include several measures in his much-anticipated Sudan policy. Key advisors will debate the policy today in what could be a final round of meetings – if everyone agrees.

While the congressmen note that they “appreciate the complexities” of the challenges Sudan poses to the Obama administration, they are blunt in their assessment of the administration’s performance so far:

[We] are deeply concerned that the current approach toward Sudan is heading in the wrong direction and that the policy – if consistent with that approach – will fail to achieve our objectives to support peace and alleviate the suffering of the people of Sudan.

They offer a number of reasons for this concern, including reports of ongoing and egregious abuses committed by the Sudanese government, noting that the Obama administration has not addressed Khartoum’s efforts to undermine peace. “The NCP’s primary motivation is to remain in power at all costs…” they note.

The congressmen laid out recommendations for three key elements that they expect to see in the Obama administration’s Sudan policy: (1) strict adherence to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, a deal signed in 2005 that brought to a close the 20-year civil war between North and South; (2) a “transparent” plan for Darfur that emphasizes protection, accountability, and a meaningful peace process; and (3) “robust pressures” and “appropriate incentives” to ensure that parties follow through on their commitments.

In the days leading up to today’s high-level meeting, words of concern about the Obama administration’s initial actions – and distress that a problematic approach is about to become firm U.S. policy – seem to be pouring in from many sides. Hopefully, the president’s top advisors are heeding the warnings as they gather today.


Laura Heaton contributed to this post.