religious authority has issued a ruling that President Omar al-Bashir should
not attend a March 30th Arab summit in Qatar. The International Criminal Court (ICC) has
called for President Bashir's arrest for alleged war crimes in Darfur. In its fatwa issued Sunday the Committee of
Muslim Scholars said the president should stay away from the meeting to avoid what
it called the enemies of the nation.
week President Barack Obama appointed Major General J. Scott Gration as the
U.S. Special Envoy for Sudan.
Alex Meixner, director of policy and
government relations for the Safe Darfur Coalition told VOA that General Gration has the personal and professional background to do a good
job as U.S. Special Envoy.
think General Gration is a good choice for one he has all the experience in the
region. He actually grew in large part in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
where his parents did aid work; and he himself was a refugee a few times in the
60s with his family during the troubles in the Congo then. He's fluent in Swahili;
he has a significant record of working in Africa and with Africans. So he knows
the ground fairly well. Additionally, he has the advantage of being a close
friend of President Obama. Both traveled together extensively when President
Obama was still a senator. For instance they visited Darfur refugees in the
refugee camps in eastern Chad," he said.
agreed General Gration's appointment is coming at a tough difficult time for
diplomacy, particularly with the ICC issuing an arrest warrant for President
Bashir and at a time when Sudan has expelled several international aid
he said Gration has what it takes to address the policy issues the United
States has with Sudan.
Obama administration is in a much better position than the Bush administration
had been in terms of its ability to rally an international diplomatic coalition
to press for change in Sudan. Certainly I think many anywhere across the world
could be happy that millions of additional refugees in Darfur are now in
greater risk because the Sudanese President kicked out the aid worker. So the question
becomes what does one do about it? And this is an area where we think the U.S.
should take the lead," he said.
African Union panel headed by former South African President Thabo Mbeki has
been assigned the task of finding a middle ground on the Sudan crisis.
said he understands that the African Union is a full partner in resolving the
Sudan crisis, but he said it is a false premise to think that the views of Jean
Ping, chair of the African Union Commission equals the views of all of Africa.
terms of former President Thabo Mbeki's participation, I must say frankly that
during his presidency South Africa was perhaps less helpful than it might have
been in resolving it. So I certainly agree that the African Union is a full
partner here with the rest of the world in trying to resolve this. And there
are many views out there including those of Mr. Mbeki and Ping. I'm saying
clearly that there are more than only those views. There are those who believe
that this case by the ICC could be catalyst for peace in Darfur just as the
prosecutions of (Slobodan) Milosevic and (Charles) Taylor proved catalyst for
peace in Bosnia and Liberia," Meixner said.