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Letter to Secretary Kerry: Appoint Special Envoy to Sudan

Letter

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) today said the appointment of a special envoy to Sudan should be a top priority for new Secretary of State John Kerry.

In a letter to Kerry today, Wolf recommended someone like former Senator Russ Feingold for the position. He wrote that Feingold, who served with Kerry on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and chaired the Subcommittee on African Affairs, "possesses both the stature and the knowledge necessary for the task at hand."

Wolf praised the work of former Senator John Danforth during his tenure as special envoy under President Bush, and called for a similar "high-profile" individual with enough stature to "communicate a clear sense of urgency and priority on the part of the U.S." to take over the role. Wolf was the driving force behind the creation of a special envoy to Sudan in 2001.

In describing Danforth's tenure as special envoy, Wolf wrote that "his leadership was in fact instrumental in securing, after two and a half years of negotiations, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), thereby bringing an end to the war."

Since then, Wolf said, hope for continued peace has waned.

"In the years that followed, America has rightly been viewed as a guarantor of the peace given how intimately involved we were in the CPA process," he wrote. "Sadly, that peace is now in jeopardy."

Wolf cited tension between Sudan and South Sudan, refugees fleeing violence and starvation in the Nuba Mountains, and genocide in Darfur.

"Our approach to Sudan and South Sudan needs reinvigorating," Wolf concluded. "While an envoy alone does not a policy make, a high-profile special envoy, from outside the department, with the knowledge and mandate to aggressively pursue peace, security and justice for the people of Sudan and South Sudan, is an important step in the right direction."

The full text of the letter is below.

The Honorable John Kerry
Secretary of State
2201 C St. NW Ste. 7276
Washington, DC 20520

Dear Secretary Kerry:

Congratulations on your recent confirmation as Secretary of State.

At a March 14, 2012 Senate hearing on Sudan which you chaired, you said, "Make no mistake: it is the leaders in Khartoum and Juba who must choose between a future of conflict and poverty or a future of security and prosperity. But we must not abdicate the important role the United States can play [emphasis added] in helping to nurture that process just as we helped midwife the birth of this new nation."

In that vein, I urge you, among your first acts as secretary, to move swiftly to appoint a new Sudan Special Envoy to fill the vacancy left by Princeton Lyman's announced departure. I believe that someone like former Senator Russ Feingold, who served with you on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and who chaired the Subcommittee on African Affairs, would be well-suited to the challenge. He possesses both the stature and the knowledge necessary for the task at hand.

You've rightly recognized the critical role that a previous envoy, namely former Senator John Danforth, played in helping "midwife the birth" of South Sudan. In September 2001, President Bush appointed Senator Danforth as special envoy and his leadership was in fact instrumental in securing, after two and a half years of negotiations, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), thereby bringing about an end to the war. Danforth was a high-profile appointment. He had the ear of the president and the secretary and didn't get bogged down in the department's bureaucracy. He was uniquely positioned to negotiate and his stature, prior to taking the job, communicated a clear sense of urgency and priority on the part of the U.S. He didn't require a sizeable staff, or even a full-time State Department post, but the diplomatic feat he accomplished was nothing short of remarkable.

In the years that followed, America has rightly been viewed as a guarantor of the peace given how intimately involved we were in the CPA process. Sadly, that peace is now in jeopardy.

I was at the 2005 signing of this historic accord in Kenya, as was then Secretary of State Colin Powell and the late Congressman Donald Payne, among others. Hopes were high--but what remains of that hope has all but disappeared. Tensions between Sudan and South Sudan are on the rise and nearing a tipping point. Thousands are starving in the Nuba Mountains. Refugees fleeing violence and seeking aid pour over the border into South Sudan. Low-grade genocide persists in Darfur. An internationally indicted war criminal remains at the helm in Khartoum and travels the globe with virtual impunity.

Our approach to Sudan and South Sudan needs reinvigorating. It demands a renewed sense of moral clarity about who we are dealing with in Khartoum--namely genocidaires. It necessitates someone who can speak candidly with our friends in South Sudan about their own internal challenges, including corruption, and shortcomings as a new nation. While an envoy alone does not a policy make, a high-profile special envoy, from outside the department, with the knowledge and mandate to aggressively pursue peace, security and justice for the people of Sudan and South Sudan, is an important step in the right direction.

Best wishes.

Sincerely,

Frank R. Wolf
Member of Congress


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