2 April 2010

Sudan: As Election Crisis Unfolds, Darfuris and U.S. Advocates Call on Congress to Exercise More Oversight over Faltering Policy

press release

Washington — As Sudan's national election descends into crisis amid growing opposition boycotts, U.S.-based Darfuris and policy experts from Sudan Now, a campaign led by a group of prominent anti-genocide and human rights organizations, are calling for Congress to step up its oversight of the current U.S. Sudan policy.

The group is launching a social media campaign today to encourage leading members of Congress to privately and publicly engage with the Obama administration on Sudan.

"At this critical moment for Sudan, Congress should hold the administration responsible for faithful implementation of the Sudan policy released last October," states Sam Bell, Executive Director of the Genocide Intervention Network.

According to the Sudan Now campaign, the current implementation of U.S. Sudan policy has not addressed a number of extremely concerning developments on the ground including Sudanese government attacks on Jebel Marra that have killed hundreds and displaced thousands in recent weeks, ongoing obstruction by the national government in access for aid workers and UN investigators to Darfur, and clear indications that the nationwide elections scheduled for April will be neither free nor fair.

"There have been any number of disturbing developments on the ground in Sudan, yet the reaction from the administration has been remarkably muted," states John Norris, Executive Director of the Enough Project at the Center for American Progress. "A wide range of a Sudanese and international experts have clearly determined that the national election scheduled for this month will be neither free nor fair, and recent government attacks in Darfur have driven tens of thousands of innocent civilians from their homes. Yet, senior administration officials appear badly divided on their approach to Sudan at a time when coherent international leadership toward Sudan is more vital than ever."

The Obama administration's Sudan policy, announced in October 2009, clearly stated that tough benchmarks would be applied to Sudan, and that a committee of deputies from various cabinet agencies would assess progress "based on verifiable changes in conditions on the ground." However, neither the administration nor the deputies' review process have addressed the many concerning developments on the ground. These developments also include ongoing violence and clashes in South Sudan that have claimed more than 2,000 lives in the last year and driven a quarter-million people from their homes, ongoing violations of a U.N. arms embargo on Darfur by both the Government of Sudan and rebel groups, and the resistance of the Government of Sudan to cooperate in any form with the International Criminal Court investigating war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide in Sudan.

"It is time for the United States Government to support, encourage, and assist the ICC in moving forward on its indictment of Omar Bashir to afford both accuser and accused their rightful day in court, "states Abdelgabar Adam, President of Darfur Human Rights Organization. "Justice needs to be served through open to public scrutiny on the issues of whether human rights violations were committed by Mr. Bashir."

"The people of Darfur want nothing more than to lead a normal life," states Mohamed Suleiman, a Darfuri and the President of the San Francisco Bay Area Darfur Coalition. "They'd like to see their children grow up in a secure and peaceful Darfur. The international community, for eight consecutive years, has failed to make that possible. In fact, as each year has passed, Darfuris have come to realize that the international community caters to the need of the brutal regime in Khartoum rather than working in earnest to see a lasting peace in Darfur with security and justice for the people of Darfur.

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