Coalition Calls for U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan to Coordinate American Policy

Washington, DC – The Save Darfur Coalition today expressed its sincerest gratitude to Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick for his active support of the people of Darfur. The Deputy Secretary announced his resignation from the State Department earlier in the day.

“Deputy Secretary Zoellick has been one of the world’s strongest advocates for the people of Darfur,” said Save Darfur Coalition Policy Director Alex Meixner. “His active involvement in negotiating the Darfur Peace Agreement was a key factor in reaching a deal which will hopefully provide the basis for a lasting peace in Darfur.  His will be big shoes to fill, however, and the President and Secretary Rice must now take steps to ensure that his departure from the State Department will not lessen the intensity of U.S. efforts to turn this peace deal into an actual peace.”

Zoellick’s departure, combined with last week’s announced departure of senior White House advisor and fellow Darfur advocate Mike Gerson, leaves a concerning gap within the Administration’s leadership on Darfur.  Zoellick has been involved on a daily basis in the minute details of the conflict and U.S. policy for the last year and a half.  With his departure, it is unclear who will fill that gap at the most senior levels within the administration.

“While the President and Secretary Rice undoubtedly remain committed to ending the genocide, now is not the time to be thinning the bench, it’s the time to be redoubling our efforts,” added Meixner.  “Just last week, Congress provided $250,000 for the appointment of a Special Envoy for Sudan.  The President should take them up on that offer by appointing a top-level Administration lead on the Darfur crisis immediately.”

The Presidential Special Envoy for Sudan would coordinate America’s efforts to end the genocide in Darfur and bring a lasting peace to Sudan.  The U.S. has put enormous resources into reaching both the Darfur Peace Agreement in Sudan’s west and the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in the Sudan’s south.  A lead, high-level Administration official reporting to President Bush would ensure that the peace embodied in both of those agreements is realized.

The Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) was signed on May 5 by the Khartoum government and the largest rebel faction of the Sudanese Liberation Movement (SLM).  Even since the signing of the DPA, the violence has worsened in Darfur because of the lack of monitoring and oversight from the international community. The DPA aimed to end the ongoing genocide in Darfur that has left over 400,000 dead since February 2003 and over 2.5 million in refugee camps.

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