Human rights activists are urging Secretary of State Clinton, during her African trip, to call for strong action to end the Darfur crisis.

The six-year-old conflict in western Sudan has displaced millions and resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians.  Many groups and countries, including the United States, have described the humanitarian crisis there as genocide.

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has been accused of war crimes by the ICC, the International Criminal Court at The Hague.

Jerry Fowler, head of the Save Darfur Coalition, says, "One of the issues that we encourage her (Clinton) to raise with African leaders as she tours the continent is the need for coordinated action to address the interlocking crises in Sudan."

Taking the lead

"The Obama administration," he says, "has a remarkable opportunity to lead strategically for peace in Sudan.  And having the secretary of state underscore that to people that she meets with is very important."

The "coordinated action" says Fowler, includes "multilateral engagement that basically offersto the government of Sudan a choice?. Progress towards lasting peace and stability in the country and in the region in exchange for which ultimately there would be normal relations between Sudan and the rest of the world."

The other choice, he says, "is continuing with the status quo, which endangers millions of civilians or even gets worse, in which case there would be international isolation and a continued exclusion of Sudan from the full participation in the community of nations."

The US and the international community should present that choice before Sudanese leaders, says Fowler, and "create a space for peace."

Darfur and CPA inseparable

In 2005, Northern and Southern Sudan signed the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), which ended over 20 years of civil war.  Tensions between the two sides over border and oil resource have flared in recent months.  The CPA calls for elections in April in Southern Sudan and a referendum in 2011 on breaking away from the north.

"Implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement is very, very important.  It provides the framework for the democratic transformation of the country," he says.

Issues in the south and Darfur must be addressed together, says Fowler, because "they're inter-connected and they share common roots and causes."