Home | News    Thursday 15 October 2009

Sudan’s Kiir urges US Obama not to ease pressure on Khartoum

October 14, 2009 (WASHINGTON) — The First Vice President of Sudan and president of South Sudan Salva Kiir sent a letter to US president Barack Obama asking him to keep pressure on the ruling National Congress Party (NCP), the Washington Post reported.

The letter seen by newspaper comes as US special envoy to Sudan Scott Gration is seeking a relaxation of some sanctions imposed on the East African nations and giving out some “cookies” to Khartoum as he described it.

Furthermore, Gration’s contacts with prospective lobbyists for Sudan has added to fury of Sudan advocacy groups who accused the US official of being “naïve” in dealing with Khartoum.

It appears that special envoy’s approach has also worried South Sudan’s ex-rebels.

The Washington Post said that Kiir wrote to Obama last month, saying that Bashir continues to foment violence in the region in an apparent reference to rising tribal violence in the South which he has accused Khartoum of standing behind it.

“There has not been any transformation or reform at the center," Mayardit wrote, referring to Khartoum. “The status quo prevails. . . . Significant change in policy in relation to Sudan should only come when there is change in the reality of Sudan” Kiir said in the letter.

Last month it was reported that told Gration he is concerned that the envoy’s approach is emboldening the ruling party to dictate unfavorable terms for the south’s secession vote, such as demanding 75 percent turnout.

However, the US official backed the ruling party’s argument, saying it had legitimate concerns about the referendum. Gration urged southerners to trust the government that waged a brutal war against them for 20 years.

The disclosure of the letter will likely infuriate Bashir’s party. The SPLM Secretary General Pagan Amum came under fierce media campaign few months back for urging US lawmakers to maintain unilateral sanctions on North Sudan.

Today US Republican Senator Frank Wolf who is Co-Chairman of Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission will hold a press conference on Thursday to address lobbying efforts on behalf of Sudan in the US.

A letter by Wolf set to be released tomorrow calls on Obama to personally intervene to ensure that no US lobbying firm is allowed to represent the country.

“I urge you to personally engage on the issue of Sudan," Wolf writes to Obama. “You’ve rightly noted that ’silence, acquiescence and paralysis in the face of genocide is wrong,’ and you’ve advocated for ’real pressures [to] be placed on the Sudanese government.’ I wholeheartedly support these sentiments, but sentiments absent action ring hollow” he said.

Gration has reportedly met with Robert McFarlane, the former National Security Advisor to President Ronald Reagan who is trying to informally lobby for Sudan in Washington in return for a $1.3 million contract from the Arab Gulf state of Qatar.

The US special envoy also met with Robert B. Crowe, a prominent Democratic fundraiser and ally of US Senator John Kerry from Massachusetts who is attempting to secure a lobbying contract with Khartoum.

This week the Sudanese presidential adviser suggested that his government is “monitoring hostile activities by [US based] organizations pushed from groups and foreign powers against the country” to sabotage dialogue with Washington.

Darfur groups in the US echoing the views of the rebel groups have sent a letter to Obama urging him to replace Gration.

However, the White House lent its full support to retired general Gration.

“The President is extremely grateful for the work General Gration has done thus far, and for all the work he’ll do on this critical issue in the future” White House spokesman Tommy Vietor told the Washington Post today.

A US policy review on Sudan is still underway with no signs of its release date despite numerous deadlines in the past. The Obama presidential campaign team has promised to release the policy early in the administration term but divisions within the government agencies has slowed down the process.

Washington has been grappling with how to deal with Khartoum over violence in Darfur, where UN estimates say up to 300,000 people have died and 2.7 million have fled their homes amid violence the United States has labeled genocide.