President Barack Obama talks with Ambassador Princeton N. Lyman, the U.S. Special Envoy for Sudan, during the Presidential Daily Briefing in the Oval Office, June 16, 2011. Photo: Pete Souza

Presidential Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan Princeton N. Lyman’s service in the last two years has continued the historic leadership by the United States in the international efforts to secure peace within Sudan and between Sudan and South Sudan.

His departure, announced on December 10 presents serious challenges for the U.S. administration in moving forward toward peace in the Sudans. Finding a well qualified replacement for Amb. Lyman should be the administration’s top priority vis-à-vis the two Sudans in the coming weeks.

History has shown that an experienced and respected U.S. Special Envoy has been instrumental in implementing U.S. policy towards Sudan and South Sudan, sustaining the U.S. Government’s attention on the situation, and maintaining diplomatic relations.

We cannot afford to disengage from the Sudans. Join United to End Genocide and the Congressional Sudan Caucus in urging President Obama to maintain the U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan and South Sudan in his second term.

Contact your Representative and urge them to co-sign the Caucus’s letter in support of a strong Special Envoy. The deadline is COB Thursday, December 20.

______________________________________________________________________________

Representatives can contact Rep. Capuano’s office to sign on to this letter.

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

We appreciate the attention that your administration has paid to the ongoing conflicts in the two Sudans and write today, on the heels of the announcement of the departure of Ambassador Princeton Lyman, to urge you to maintain the position of Special Envoy to Sudan and South Sudan moving forward. This critical post demonstrates the high level of commitment of the people and government of the United States to resolving outstanding issues in and between Sudan and South Sudan, and provides an advocate for the people of both countries as they strive to develop democratic governance and end decades of war and humanitarian crisis.

Although we had hoped that the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) and the independence of South Sudan would usher in a new era of peace and stability, recent events in both countries have demonstrated that there are still regional dangers and challenges to which the United States has a responsibility to respond.  The conflict in Darfur has continued for more than a decade, and the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile States is affecting nearly one million people through displacement, food insecurity, and conflict. Refugees continue to stream over the border into overcrowded and under-resourced camps in South Sudan and Ethiopia as a political solution to the conflict remains elusive.

Sudan and South Sudan are still engaged in critical economic, political, and security negotiations, as they try to restart South Sudanese oil flows, demarcate their international border, and settle the status of Abyei, whose people were denied their promised referendum.  Meanwhile, the new Government of South Sudan is struggling with inter-tribal conflict, corruption, and an increasingly restrictive political environment, all in the context of a poor economic outlook following the shutdown of oil production and a still under-developed agricultural sector. The political and economic situation in Sudan also appears increasingly precarious.

Despite these challenges, the potential for both countries remains great, and we must redouble our efforts in the region if we are to consolidate gains made through the CPA and resolve once and for all the long-standing obstacles to peace.

Throughout the past two presidential administrations, the United States has led international efforts to bring peace to the people of Sudan and South Sudan. The presence of a full-time U.S. Special Envoy reporting to the Secretary of State has been crucial in this endeavor. Ambassador Lyman has worked tirelessly to encourage the two Sudanese governments to implement the CPA, address the ongoing violence in Darfur, and open up access for humanitarian aid in the Nuba Mountains. While many of us are frustrated by Khartoum’s intransigence and the slow pace of negotiations, what progress we have seen would not have been possible without a strong U.S. commitment through a Special Envoy of the stature, seniority, and temperament to win the respect and trust of all parties.

Sudan and South Sudan are both in a time of transition, as the two nations aim to establish their own identities as sovereign nations. Violence and hunger remain a daily threat, and conflicts continue to destabilize the two countries and affect the wider the region. As you begin your second term, Mr. President, we thank for your ongoing commitment to the people of the two Sudan, and urge you to maintain the position of Special Envoy to Sudan and South Sudan to help achieve the aspirations for democracy, peace, and prosperity that people of both countries share.

Sincerely,

Cc:  The Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of State

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