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Sat, 02 May 2009 11:16 - Updated Sat, 02 May 2009 11:15

Civil Society Urges Obama to Adopt New Peace Strategy


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Darfur - Three prominent American civil society advocacy groups have marked President Barack Obama’s first 100 days in office by issuing an open letter calling on him to build a coalition with China, the Arab League, the African Union and Europe with the objective of developing a set of “carrots and sticks” to bring peace to Sudan.

“A global consensus exists for peace in Sudan, even if there is not agreement on the best path to achieve this goal,” say the groups in their letter. “What has long been missing in Sudan is America’s strategic leadership.”

The letter was written by “Enough”, a project of the Center for American Progress which campaigns against genocide and crimes against humanity, the Save Darfur campaign and the Genocide Intervention Network.

The groups urge Obama’s special envoy for Sudan, Major General Scott Gration, to build “a multinational coalition of countries with significant leverage… [A] reliance on bilateral diplomacy will provide Khartoum the opportunity to play one party off against the other, as it has historically done with great success.”

At the same time, the groups advocate developing “unilateral and multilateral carrots and sticks” to press for a settlement of what they describe as Sudan’s “multiple, interlocking conflicts” – the war Darfur, the proxy war between Chad and the Sudan, the difficulties between North and South and the “dangerously-neglected” situation in the east.

On Darfur, the groups say the African Union/United Nations mediator, Djibril Bassolé, should take the lead in pursuing peace talks already in Doha, Qatar, backed by a small group of countries with influence.

“We believe that this inner circle should consist at a minimum of the United States, United Kingdom, France, China, and Egypt,” the groups say. “An outer circle group of countries and multilateral organizations (UN, AU, Arab League) should also be engaged in a formal manner to discourage spoilers, and other key nations such as Russia, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, South Africa would need to be thoroughly consulted.”

Outlining its proposals for “sticks”, the groups suggest that if President Omar al- Bashir and his ruling party block peace, they should face “a series of escalating costs,” including diplomatic isolation, targeted sanctions, an expanded arms embargo, and, “if necessary to stop massive loss of civilian life, eventual targeted military action.”