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US Sudan Policy Fundamentally Flawed, say Advocacy Groups

A coalition of advocacy groups has sent an open letter to President Obama describing current US policy toward Sudan as "fundamentally flawed."

The letter, titled Avoiding Total War in Sudan, comes at the start of a five-day visit to Sudan by US Special Envoy Scott Gration.

The Enough Project, Sudan Now, Genocide Intervention Network, Stop Genocide Now, Investors Against Genocide and Humanity United say, "The human stakes in Sudan have few parallels globally."

John Prendergast, co-founder of the Enough Project, says, "We're concerned that the developing policy review…is not addressing the deeper issue of what the diplomatic strategy actually is both in the South and in Darfur."

The Obama administration is expected to soon complete its policy review of Sudan.

"Our feeling is right now that the approach that the American government is taking through its special envoy is one that is fundamentally flawed and that will potentially lead to further war…in Darfur and a resumption of war in Southern Sudan," he says.

What flaw?

"On the Darfur side, what we have is the equivalent of a diplomatic bridge to nowhere. The administration is furiously working to build different components of the process, but there is no end game. There is no proposal…that says these are the issues that the Darfuri people believe are fundamental to peace," he says.

The letter also raises concern about the ruling National Congress Party (NCP).

"It's used these ethnic-based militias now for two decades to undermine peace and stability in Sudan…. This is what this government does. So, we're very concerned that they're resuming this policy again in Southern Sudan in advance of the elections and referendum for self-determination and thus will drive the south back to war."

Southern strategy

Prendergast says both the NCP and the SPLM, which governs Southern Sudan, "need to experience consequences for any effort to undertake to undermine peace, to obstruct the implementation of that (2005) peace agreement…that ended the north/south war," he says.

He's critical of what he calls "an endless discussion and renegotiation of particular points. That needs to stop."

Addressing Darfur

"There needs to be the construction of a peace proposal and then the building of leveragebehind that peace proposal that allows the incentives and pressures that the Obama administration is about to authorize to be used for a positive end," he says.

The advocacy groups say the current US approach is "leading to further divisions among rebel factions."

They say if a different approach is not taken in Southern Sudan and Darfur, "The worst could yet be coming."