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Get Tough with Sudan, US Expert Urges

A Nuba woman, injured during a raid by Sudan's air force, sits in a makeshift hospital in South Kordofan in April 2012.
The head of a U.S.-based Sudan advocacy group called on the international community to get tough with Khartoum, which she accused of masquerading as a peacemaker while it obstructs peace and stability in South Sudan and Darfur.

"Whether or not the government of Sudan says they're peacemakers, all evidence points to the contrary," Anne Bartlett, a professor of international studies at the University of San Francisco and the executive director of the Darfur Reconciliation and Development Organization, said in an interview with VOA News.

Khartoum has ignored the terms of agreements signed with South Sudan, which seceded from the north in 2011 under the terms of a peace agreement that six years earlier ended one of Africa's longest civil wars.

"It's a new country but it can't secure its borders," Bartlett said.

"Abyei, which was part of the peace agreement protocol, is completely unresolved, despite the fact that there was supposed to be a referendum in 2011. South Sudan can't resolve its oil transport issues," she said.

In Darfur, where rebels have been fighting a lopsided battle against the Arab-dominated Khartoum government since 2003, Bartlett said the situation was "enormously dangerous", as rebels from the conflict in Mali "turn up" in the war-ravaged western part of Sudan.

Bartlett accused Sudanese fighter jets of bombing civilians in Darfur, and in the southern border states of Blue Nile and South Kordofan, "continuously, day and night" while the international community does nothing to stop them.

She called for the African Union to be given a stronger mandate and for the international community to get tough with Khartoum.

"The government of Sudan needs to be told in no uncertain terms to stop bombing innocent people, and if they don't, if they carry on with that policy, there needs to be an international no-fly zone established," she said.

"We've seen that done in Libya; I see absolutely no reason why it shouldn't be done in Sudan."

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    John Tanza

    John Tanza works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters and is the managing editor and host of the South Sudan In Focus radio program.