Plaudits for new US policy on Sudan
October 21, 2009 - 12:00AM
AID groups have welcomed a new US carrot-and-stick policy towards Sudan but say its success depends on how hard President Barack Obama pushes his bid to stabilise the war-ravaged nation.
In particular, aid groups hailed the US Government for putting as much stress on ending the conflict in the western Darfur region as on carrying out the terms of a fragile 2005 agreement ending a 22-year civil war in the south.
It makes a lot of sense to put the Comprehensive Peace Agreement high on the agenda, according to Sam Bell, who heads the Genocide Intervention Network. But he said his group would reserve judgment until it saw how forcefully the Obama Administration pushed its policy.
''The key issue is what kind of diplomatic energy is the Administration putting into this? Is it a piece of paper or a strategy?'' he said.
After a seven-month review, Mr Obama on Monday unveiled a US policy of engagement with Sudan, but warned Khartoum to expect a tough response if it ignored incentives to stop abuses and genocide in western Darfur.
Jerry Fowler, president of the Save Darfur Coalition, an umbrella for more than 100 organisations, said three issues were critical to the policy's implementation.
''Incentives should not be provided before there is concrete and lasting progress on resolving Sudan's interlocking crises, opening political space for Sudanese to determine their future and protecting human rights,'' he said.
''Second, the US must generate multilateral support for both incentives and pressures.
''And third, we need to see substantial personal involvement from President Obama - for example, he must make Sudan a priority when he goes to China next month.''
China is seen as a key to ending the six-year war between the Government in Khartoum and Darfur rebels because it is an ally of the Sudanese regime, a weapons supplier and importer of oil from Sudan.
John Prendergast, a co-founder of the Enough Project - an initiative to end genocide and crimes against humanity - said the ''outlook is not optimistic''.