Sudan is nearly 100 days away from a referendum that will permanently affect the course of its future, and still many important issues to prepare for the vote and the aftermath remain unresolved. President Obama has recommitted his administration to actively engage international stakeholders and the parties in Sudan to ensure that the Comprehensive Peace Agreement is implemented, the referendum accurately reflects the will of the people, and peace in Darfur is achieved.
Activists and members of Congress have called with one voice for the administration to approach Sudan in a balanced way that puts forth potential incentives and pressures according to demonstrated developments on the ground.
Today, Senate Foreign Relations Chair John Kerry (D-MA), Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS), Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI), Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS), and Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) introduced the Sudan Peace and Stability Act. This legislation would require the U.S. government to develop a strategy and report on its efforts and programs established to promote a democratic Sudan; pursue full implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, or CPA; support capacity building for the government of southern Sudan, should the South chose independence; require the administration to designate a senior official to aid the Darfur peace process; and develop a strategy to promote peace in Darfur. (Enough’s official response to this legislation is here in a statement jointly signed with 16 other human rights groups.)
In another show of support for the people of Sudan, members of the U.S. House of Representatives, led by Majority Leader Hoyer (D-MD) and Rep. Payne (D-NJ), took to the floor last week to reaffirm their commitment to the people of Sudan and proclaim their support for full implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. “We support a timely, peaceful, free, and fair referendum on independence; and we support an end to the violence in Darfur,” said Majority Leader Hoyer. (Here’s a video of remarks by various members of Congress during the Hoyer/Payne special order on Sudan.)
Sudan suffered through more than two decades of civil war, which finally came to an end in 2005. As President Obama recently said, “This is the awful legacy of conflict in Sudan—the past that must not become the future.” The hard work of activists and congressional champions has helped generate the attention necessary to compel the Obama administration to step up its efforts to promote a peaceful Sudan. Today’s introduction of new Sudan legislation and recent remarks on-the-record suggest that Sudan advocates in Congress will be keeping a close eye on how the U.S. efforts to engage play out during this crucial time.
Photo: Congressman Donald Payne speaks on the House floor during a special order on Sudan