The Administration's Commitment to Sudan

By Kansteiner, Walter H.,, III | DISAM Journal, Winter 2003 | Go to article overview

The Administration's Commitment to Sudan

Kansteiner, Walter H.,, III, DISAM Journal

[The following are excerpts of the testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Subcommittee on African Affairs, Washington, D.C., July 11, 2002.]

It is indeed an honor to appear again before this Subcommittee, this time to discuss the administration's commitment to bring about a just peace settlement to end the tragic civil war that has raged in Sudan since 1983. I would like to discuss the latest policy developments concerning Sudan, including my recent trip to Khartoum and Nairobi, where I met with the leaders of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement and the Government in Khartoum.

When the administration first laid out its policy towards Sudan, it identified three elements. First, we would deny the use of Sudan by terrorists as a harbor or safe haven. Second, we would ensure humanitarian access to Southern Sudan, and third, support a just and comprehensive settlement of the civil war that has raged there since 1983.

The September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the United States injected a degree of urgency into our counter-terrorism cooperation with Khartoum. The President defined the government's choice in stark terms: you are either with us, or you are against us. The government appears to have calculated that it could not be against us. While I cannot discuss the sensitive details of their cooperation in this unclassified setting, I can with confidence characterize their current cooperation as acceptable, but as the President said, still more is required.

Our Counter-terrorism Coordinator Ambassador Frank Taylor and I just returned from meetings with the senior leadership in Khartoum on July 2, where we discussed our expectations for continued cooperation. We also made it clear to them that a good record of cooperation in counter-terrorism, vital as it might be, does not provide a free ride on other requirements - particularly humanitarian access and a just peace.

Since February 2002, the authorities in Khartoum have aggravated the human tragedy in Sudan more than usual by denying complete humanitarian access to the famine-threatened region of Western Upper Nile. This is in direct contravention of the terms of the Operation Lifeline Sudan agreement they signed with the United Nations and the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA). We at the Department of State, our colleagues at USAID, and the President's Special Envoy for Peace former Senator John Danforth have repeatedly protested this failure on the part of the Sudanese government to honor its agreement and to safeguard the well-being of its citizens in southern Sudan. I raised the issue directly with President Bashir and Vice-President Taha in Khartoum on July 2. Bashir offered us humanitarian access to eighteen locations in southern Sudan, including four in Western Upper Nile. I made it clear that we would settle for nothing less than what the government has promised to give us: full and unhindered humanitarian ac cess to all of southern Sudan. I delivered a similar message on our deep disappointment that the government's campaign in the South continues to violate the human rights of its citizens by denying them access to needed humanitarian assistance. I want to take this opportunity to reiterate these messages to the government of Sudan.

Prospects are quite positive for the peace process that began June 17 in Nairobi. Lieutenant General Lazaro Sumbeiywo, Kenyan army commander, has provided determined and capable leadership for the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) regional organization hosting the talks. Our diplomatic team in Nairobi is providing day-to-day support for the talks. The British, Norwegians, Swiss and Italians are providing similar assistance. Here in Washington, we have assembled an inter-agency Sudan Programs Group headed by a "Chief Operating Officer" for Sudan policy, Ambassador Michael Ranneberger, to manage the day-to-day work of implementing policies and programs related to the peace process. …

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