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" on Darfur