Even before Hillary Clinton is confirmed by the Senate as
the next secretary of state, she's being called on to quickly deal with Darfur. Samuel Bell, director of advocacy at the Genocide
Intervention Network in Washington, spoke to VOA English to Africa Service
reporter Joe De Capua about Senator Clinton.
"The very first order of business…and she's not
officially the secretary of state until the Senate confirms her, but what we're
saying is that she needs to develop the plans…and…designate the
officials…before the administration takes office. We've seen, time and time
again in the past administration, that delays, personnel delays, policy
planning delays, have given the Sudanese government time to thwart any plans
the international community had to bring peace and protection to people in
Sudan," he says.
Bell says Clinton should take specific action on
Darfur soon after being sworn in. "We believe that there's a window of
opportunity to put significant pressure on the Sudanese government and have
them agree to a credible and lasting peace agreement with the rebels and civil
society in Darfur. So we're calling on Secretary of State Designate Clinton and
President-elect Obama and the rest of the foreign policy team to embark on a
peace surge. We're calling it a peace surge for Sudan. We feel that the time is
right, right now, that they can hammer out in the first hundred days a
negotiated solution that will end the violence," he says.
Bell says that perpetrators of war crimes should
be held accountable. Currently, the prosecutor of the ICC, International
Criminal Court, has requested arrest warrants for Sudanese president Bashir, as
well as some rebel leaders.
He says that the Obama administration should
continue Bush administration policies that reject any normalization of
relations with Sudan until there is major progress in Darfur. "We lobbied for
and pushed for sanctions on the government of Sudan that are helping, we hope,
to change the behavior of that government to allow in humanitarian aid, allow
in a peacekeeping force."
President Bush had appointed a
special envoy for Sudan, and Bell says that policy should continue as well. He
adds that as a senator, Hillary Clinton, "has been a leader for four years now"