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September 10, 09

NEWS / Envoy Gration Seeks Deal for Peace Accord in Sudan

By Merle David Kellerhals Jr.
Staff Writer

Washington — U.S. Special Envoy for Sudan Scott Gration is in Juba, Southern Sudan, to hold talks with the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement and President Omar Hassan al-Bashir’s National Congress Party on two sticking points to implementation of a broader 2005 peace accord, the State Department announced September 8.

Gration is traveling to Sudan September 9–14 and is visiting Juba, Boma, Darfur and Khartoum. His travel comes as the United States is near announcing a new policy on Sudan, and the troubled Darfur region.

The talks in Juba center on resolving issues over a census, which is essential to holding elections, and on preparations for a self-determination referendum. National elections are scheduled for 2010 and a referendum on southern independence for 2011.

Gration told Congress recently that the goal is to conclude an agreement that will allow the Sudanese to return to their homes and resume their lives in safety and security. Previous peace efforts have faltered, Gration testified, and the United States has learned from those experiences.

“We will concentrate on finding a path forward on the two remaining unresolved sticking points for full … implementation,” Gration told Reuters news agency. These two issues were not included in a bilateral agreement that was agreed upon on August 19, the State Department said.

President Obama has made enhancing the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement a significant U.S. foreign policy objective and that is part of the reason he named a special envoy to negotiate agreements and further the peace process.

While in Darfur, Gration will visit two camps for displaced persons — at Abu Shouk and Zam Zam — to assess humanitarian conditions, meet with camp administrators, and meet with women leaders about gender-based violence and address programs aimed at ending the attacks. And in the Darfur region, he will meet in El Fasher with General Patrick Nyamvumba, the new commander of the UNAMID force (United Nations–African Union Mission in Darfur), and with section leaders of the displaced persons camp in the El Fasher area. And he will also visit Ain Siro in Northern Darfur to meet with civic leaders who are in support of the Darfur peace process.

Gration will travel to Khartoum, where he will meet with former African heads of state Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, Abdulsalami Abubakar of Nigeria and Pierre Buyoya of Burundi. “The African Union’s High Panel on Darfur (AUPD), chaired by President Mbeki, and the Arab League [are] set to release a report to the public on [September 15] on issues of justice, accountability, stability and development in Darfur,” the State Department said.

In the region of Boma, where annual animal migration rivals that of the Serengeti, Gration will examine conservation efforts and view an example of untapped ecotourism and development potential in the South, the State Department said in a statement.

The United States is engaging with the fragmented movements in Darfur to bring them to the peace table with a single voice; is working with Libya and Egypt to end the proxy war between Chad and Sudan; and is supporting the full deployment of the U.N.–African Union Mission in Darfur to protect Darfuri civilians, Gration testified before Congress.

The second aspect of the emerging U.S. strategy involves sustaining peace between the North and the South. In January 2005, the Sudanese government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement signed the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), ending a 22-year war. However, Gration said that four and a half years after the agreement, peace remains fragile.

Sudan will hold national elections in April 2010 and referenda in Southern Sudan and the Abyei region in January 2011. Gration said the U.S. strategy calls for a functioning and stable Sudanese government, and one that will either include a government of Southern Sudan or coexist peacefully with an independent Southern Sudan.




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