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Public Statements

Letter to President Obama - Invitation to Sudanese Presidential Advisor

Letter

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) yesterday criticized President Obama's decision to invite a high-level Sudanese government delegation to Washington, citing several examples of violence and human rights atrocities committed by Sudanese presidential adviser Nafie Ali Nafie.

In a letter to Obama, Wolf described reports that Nafie has been "accused of torturing enemies, cozying up to Osama bin Ladin in the 1990s and plotting to assassinate Egypt's president," adding that Nafie opposed allowing U.N. peacekeepers into Darfur and believed that the ruling party gave up too much power in signing a 2005 U.S.-brokered peace treaty that ended a 21-year civil war with southern rebels.

"I am not opposed to diplomacy," Wolf wrote, explaining that frank conversations with Khartoum can help end severe human rights abuses and bring perpetrators of genocide in Sudan to justice. "But there are plenty of locations, including through our embassy in Khartoum, to engage in these talks. With Darfur worsening and continued indiscriminate attacks on civilians in the Nuba Mountains displacing thousands, why would your administration reward Khartoum with an invitation to Washington? Specifically, why would you reward the likes of Nafie Ali Nafie?"

Wolf further questioned the administration's overarching policy on Sudan, again urging the appointment of a new special envoy "to engage in high-level diplomacy and to secure meaningful progress on seemingly intractable issues."

Wolf concluded his letter by quoting Obama's 2006 speech at a Darfur rally, where he said that "silence, acquiescence and paralysis in the face of genocide is wrong."

"Where is that same moral clarity today?" Wolf asked.

Yesterday Wolf joined with Representatives Jim McGovern and Mike Capuano in introducing H.R. 1692, the "Sudan Peace, Security and Accountability Act of 2013" which requires the Administration to develop a comprehensive strategy for ending serious human rights violations, provide accountability for atrocities committed in Darfur and other parts of Sudan, support the path for democratic reform and foster peace throughout country.

Wolf has been advocating for the people of Sudan for more than two decades. He has travelled to Sudan six times since 1989, most recently in 2012. He was the first member of Congress to travel to Darfur in 2004. Earlier this year, he wrote to Secretary of State John Kerry urging him to appoint a special envoy to Sudan.

The full text of the letter is below.

The Honorable Barack H. Obama
The President
The White House
Washington DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

The Associated Press (AP) reported yesterday that "The Obama administration is preparing to welcome a senior Sudanese delegation to the United States for some rare highest-level diplomacy between the countries." According to AP, the delegation will include Sudanese presidential adviser Nafie Ali Nafie.

An October 2008 Los Angeles Times profile piece on Nafie opened with the following, "He's accused of torturing enemies, cozying up to Osama bin Laden in the 1990s and plotting to assassinate Egypt's president." The Times piece continued, describing him as, "the leader of the hard-line faction in the ruling National Congress Party," and the one who "opposed allowing U.N. peacekeepers into Darfur and believed that the ruling party gave up too much power in signing a 2005 U.S.-brokered peace treaty that ended a 21-year civil war with southern rebels."

The article quoted a former University of Khartoum science professor and critic of the Khartoum government who was arrested in 1989 as saying that Nafie was his interrogator. Specifically he said, "I was tortured, beaten and flogged in his presenceĀ…He was administering the whole thing. He did it all in such a cool manner, as if he were sipping coffee."

I am not opposed to diplomacy. Only through frank and principled conversations with Khartoum can the U.S. convey that we are serious about ending grave human rights abuses, bringing perpetrators of genocide to justice and working toward true democratic change in Sudan.

But there are plenty of locations, including through our embassy in Khartoum, to engage in these talks. With Darfur worsening and continued indiscriminate attacks on civilians in the Nuba Mountains displacing thousands, why would your administration reward Khartoum with an invitation to Washington? Specifically, why would you reward the likes of Nafie Ali Nafie?

Just as importantly, who and what is driving administration policy in Sudan? Will there be a new special envoy? Will this individual hail from outside the department and have the standing both in Washington and Khartoum, as Senator John Danforth did, to elevate this issue within U.S. foreign policy, to engage in high-level diplomacy and to secure meaningful progress on seemingly intractable issues? Is this administration committed to the failed approach of offering "carrots" to an internationally indicted war criminal and architect of genocide who consistently fails to honor agreements? How else to explain the invitation extended to this delegation and your administration's request for $300 million in debt relief for Sudan in the recently submitted budget?

The LA Times piece referenced earlier quoted Nafie as making the outlandish claim that the allegations of genocide in Darfur are "U.S.-manufactured "political propaganda.'" I think you would agree that such assertions are an insult to the people of Darfur who have endured violence, rape and displacement for 10 years now. In fact, speaking at a 2006 Darfur rally you said, "Today we know what is right, and today we know what is wrong. The slaughter of innocents is wrong. Two million people driven from their homes is wrong. Women gang raped while gathering firewood is wrong. And silence, acquiescence and paralysis in the face of genocide is wrong."

Where is that same moral clarity today?

Best wishes.
Sincerely,
Frank R. Wolf
Member of Congress


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