Primer on International Politics Surrounding Sudan's 2011 Referendum

Southern Sudan President Salva Kiir and US Vice President Joe Biden in Nairobi, Kenya 6/9/10 Associated Press Photo

This post offers a selection of links to articles covering the primary issues regarding the US and international community’s approaches to Sudan policy.

The countdown to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement's mandated January 2011 referendum on whether Southern Sudan will separate from northern Sudan and become the world's newest country is accelerating. The many issues facing the country potentially about to "divorce" are well documented.  There is rising concern about lack of preparation by both the north and the south.

Amidst these concerns, renewed fighting and rising death tolls in Darfur, turmoil over Sudan's tainted April elections, and uncertainty about how Southern Sudan will govern itself, key questions remain:

  • How much linkage should the United States, the United Nations, and the African Union attach between Darfur and the referendum on Southern Sudan's independence?
  • How can the international community best help Sudan avert renewed war?
  • What level of participation and oversight will be required before and after the referendum?  

Foreign Policy: "Stuck in the mud" — The Obama Administration's Civil War over Sudan

“Obama's approach to Sudan has been hobbled from the beginning by deep divisions between senior officials — especially Gration, the special envoy, and Rice, the U.N. ambassador — on how best to handle Khartoum, sources said. Gration is said to be big on carrots, while Rice prefers sticks.”

Foreign Policy: Biden’s Africa trip is All about Sudan

“Biden will become the senior-most Obama administration official to meet with Southern Sudanese President Salva Kiir to talk 'mostly about the future of southern Sudan.' That's an indication that the Obama team is getting concerned about the January 2011 elections.”

BBC: Darfur Death Toll Rises to Two-year High in Sudan

“About 600 people died in fighting in the Sudan region of Darfur in May (2010), the highest monthly toll since peacekeepers were deployed in 2008.”

Enough Project: U.S. Must Help Stop Sudan's Slow-motion War

“We often find ourselves looking at humanitarian crises and wondering what we can do to help. This is a moment where we can contribute to stopping one before it happens.

We believe the challenge in Sudan … requires the president's direct and imaginative engagement. Failure in the form of renewed war and hundreds of thousands more deaths — conservatively — is not an option."

Enough Project: The Value of Sticks and Carrots for Sudan

"Special Envoy to Sudan Scott Gration recently commented that the U.S. does not have any leverage in Sudan, a view that appears to be shared by others in the Obama administration. According to John Prendergast of the Enough Project, that view is wrong. He is working on a report that will spell out eight areas in which the U.S. already has leverage it is not utilizing, and proposes five more ways to increase that leverage." Briefing Security Council, United Nations, African Union Officials Tout Unified Strategy, Linking Peace in Darfur to Southern Sudan Referendum

"An integrated approach to stability in Sudan, linking peace in Darfur to preparations for the January referendum on the future of Southern Sudan, was presented to the Security Council by officials of the United Nations and the African Union this morning."

CNN: Statement by UNAMID Joint Special Representative to the UN Security Council

"UK Ambassador Lyall Grant said 'With over 30,000 peacekeepers on the ground throughout the country there is no greater challenge facing the Security Council over the next 12 months than supporting the parties in securing peace and prosperity for the people of Sudan.' " Top UN Officials Call for More Political Support in Year Ahead

"U.N. Special Representative Halie Menkerios said that the National Congress Party (NCP) and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) — both signatories to the CPA — have separately informed UNMIS that they 'desire UN engagement at a much greater level' than in April to help ensure a fair vote, but have yet to provide Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon with detailed requests."

Oxfam Reaction to the UN Special Envoys Meeting on Sudan

Kirsten Hagon, Oxfam's spokesperson:

“What happens in southern Sudan over the next nine months will shape the future of Africa’s largest country and the continent itself. International diplomacy is vital to help smooth the way and ensure large-scale conflict does not erupt. Sudan needs urgent international support from the UN Security Council to ensure the referendum goes peacefully." Secretary Clinton's Meeting with President Thabo Mbeki and SRSG Haile Menkerios

"Secretary Clinton reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to the full implementation of the CPA.  The Secretary also emphasized the need for immediate and serious discussions about post-CPA arrangements on resource management, security, citizenship and other issues.

The Secretary welcomed AU/UN efforts. She underscored the urgency for the UN and the AU to move as rapidly as possible to support mechanisms for conducting the January referenda in Abyei and in Southern Sudan.

The Secretary also expressed U.S. support for the AU/UN-led Darfur mediation in Doha and noted that despite the progress in negotiations in Doha, the conditions on the ground remain deplorable. Finally, the Secretary called on all parties to intensify their efforts to find a solution to the problems in the region." National Security Advisor's White House Meeting with AU Panel

"National Security Advisor General James L. Jones welcomed Thabo Mbeki, the Chairman of the African Union (AU) High Level Implementation Panel for Sudan and former South African President, Haile Menkerios, United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary General for Sudan to the White House to discuss Sudan. 

During the meeting, President Obama stopped by to underscore the United States' commitment to working closely with the AU and the UN on the timely implementation of Sudan's Comprehensive Peace Agreement and to a just and lasting peace in Darfur."

Enough Project: Dear VP Biden, Your Leadership is Needed in Sudan

"To mark World Refugee Day, the Sudan Now campaign placed an ad in the Washington Post that called on Vice President Biden to:

Make Sudan a centerpiece his and President Obama’s personal diplomacy. Step up U.S. support for full implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between North and South and the pre-referendum negotiations currently underway
. Play a more direct role in revitalizing Darfur’s peace process, ensuring access for humanitarian assistance and promoting accountability."

Independent On-line: Sudan to ask UN for help with Abyei

"Sudan may ask the United Nations to run a referendum on the future of a politically sensitive border region after northern and southern leaders failed to appoint organizers.

 The residents of Abyei are less than seven months away from a vote on whether their border territory, close to key oilfields, should be part of north or south Sudan." Tiptoeing Around Africa’s Human Rights Abusers

"So far, the Obama administration has been shockingly tolerant of backsliding on human rights issues and disrespect for democratic values, seemingly favoring policies that maintain the status quo rather than push for bold reforms.

U.S. influence could go far at this critical moment. Nothing is gained in the long run by turning a blind-eye as regimes further consolidate their power through repressive means."

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