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New U.S. Darfur Envoy Receives Cool Reception in Khartoum

  • Peter Clottey

A 2009 file photo of the Darfur-based Justice and Equality rebel Movement (JEM) leader Khalil Ibrahim during a Darfur peace meeting in Doha, Qatar

A 2009 file photo of the Darfur-based Justice and Equality rebel Movement (JEM) leader Khalil Ibrahim during a Darfur peace meeting in Doha, Qatar

A senior member of Sudan’s governing National Congress Party (NCP) told VOA Washington’s newly-appointed envoy to Darfur is, in his words, unlikely to help President Omar Hassan al-Bashir’s government resolve the ongoing crisis in the restive region.

Rabie Abdelati Obeid said previous U.S. special envoys to Sudan failed to help the government resolve any issues.

“We don’t think the United States administration envoys provide any help or assistance to our government to achieve peace or security in our country because these envoys come only to serve the agenda of the United States administration. Now, more than four envoys have been appointed in different phases in different administrations, (but) we don’t feel that they are (giving) any help or bringing any benefit…to Sudan,” said Obeid.

“I don’t think this envoy will play a role better than the role (that was) played by the envoys before him. And, we are not relying on the efforts or the role that would be played by this new envoy because we have come to the conclusion that the envoys come to collect information to pave the way for the American administration to implement the American strategy.”

Dr. Rabie Abdelati Obeid is a prominent member of Sudan's dominant National Congress Party (NCP)

Dr. Rabie Abdelati Obeid is a prominent member of Sudan's dominant National Congress Party (NCP)

U.S. special envoy for Sudan Scott Gration told reporters that the Obama administration has appointed ambassador Dane Smith as envoy to spearhead Washington’s efforts to resolve the ongoing crisis in Darfur.

Announcing his appointment, Gration was quoted as saying, “Ambassador Smith brings more than three decades of Foreign Service experience to this job, including a tour as the deputy chief of mission right here in Khartoum, where I’m speaking from. He will also play a vital role in our diplomatic efforts concerning Darfur, as well as to help us implement our initiatives and programs in the field.”

Ambassador Smith, who had previously worked extensively in Africa, was a former deputy chief of mission in Sudan from 1986-1989.

But, Obeid said that the new envoy will only cause more problems for the government in Khartoum.

“We have also come to the conclusion that we should only rely on our efforts and try to solve this problem without the involvement of any external agents, so that the problem of Darfur can be solved and the implementation of the CPA (Comprehensive Peace Agreement) will be done,” said Obeid.

“What the (new) envoy will try to do is to try and practice (putting) pressure on our government so that our government will comply with the agenda of the United States of America administration. I don’t think our government will give response to any pressure coming from the United States of America or any other Western countries.”

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