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Sudan Reacts Favorably to Naming of US Peace Envoy - 2001-09-06

President George Bush has named a special envoy to lead a U.S. peace initiative aimed at ending almost two decades of civil war in Sudan. The president has acknowledged he has no illusions of guaranteed success but his effort is receiving a mostly favorable response from the war-torn country.

Both the Sudanese government and the opposition party seem to find President Bush's peace initiative to be welcome news.

Mohamed el-Moatessim is living in exile as a member of the opposition leadership of the Sudanese Democratic Unionist Party. "Any peace process to stop the war in the south, the Sudanese people need it because the war in Sudan is now more than 50 years and it stops development and people are dying and starving and a lot of problems; and we look for any peace process just to help the Sudanese people to stop the war," he said.

U.S. officials have said the peace initiative will include up to $30 million in humanitarian and relief aid. But the former Sudanese ambassador to Paris, Bashir Bakri, says money is not what the peace process is about. "The question is not money but the involvement of a man like President Bush or the United States is really needed," he said. "We want you to be involved in solving this problem of the south and I think this is more important than the money itself. I mean it shouldn't be an initiative of money but helping people come together."

President Bush named former U.S. Senator John Danforth as his special envoy to lead the initiative in hopes of ending 18 years of civil war. Asmea el-Husseiny is an expert on Sudan at the Ahram Strategic Center in Cairo.

Ms. El-Husseiny says everyone knows that the U.S. administration wants to have an effective policy in the African continent but, she says, the U.S. Congress has imposed restrictions on foreign businesses that operate in Sudan. She said she is hopeful the congress and the president can come together with a more effective policy. The Sudanese state-run newspaper quoted a government official as welcoming the initiative, on the condition it is based on neutrality.