By Krista McCarthy
On Tuesday, October 4th 2011, US Special Envoy to Sudan Princeton Lyman testified before the House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, and Human Rights in a hearing titled “A Comprehensive Assessment of US Policy Toward Sudan”. Ambassador Lyman was joined by John Prendergast of the Enough Project, emancipated slave Ker Aleu Deng, Dr. Gerard Prunier of the Atlantic Council, and Ellen Ratner of Talk Radio News Service in testifying on the ongoing violent conflicts in Sudan.
Ambassador Lyman expressed concern over Sudan’s unwillingness to abide by the June agreement with South Sudan over troop withdrawal from the contested Abyei region. The June agreement established a September 30th deadline by which both Sudan and South Sudan had to withdraw their occupying troops and the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) would deploy to protect civilians. Sudan has missed the deadline and is now refusing to withdraw its forces until UNISFA is fully deployed, a condition that was not part of the agreement. Ambassador Lyman denounced this statement, saying that the agreed upon withdrawal did not have such conditions, and that UNIFSA is already fully deployed and capable of protecting the civilians of Abyei.
(Watch Ambassador Lyman’s full congressional testimony)
The Special Envoy recommended that the United States put pressure on South Sudan to stop supporting the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) rebels in South Kordofan and Blue Nile, saying it is prolonging the conflicts in these areas and carries the risk of sparking a war with the North.
Lyman also stated that the US must push to reestablish peace negotiations that will effectively resolve the issues of the border states of Blue Nile and South Kordofan that were not addressed in the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement.
The Ambassador also recommended against military solutions to the conflict including the possibility of a no-fly zone by the US and its allies. He argued that a no-fly zone would not be able to counter the considerable artillery capabilities of Sudanese Armed Forces leaving civilians at risk of ground attacks. He said rebel groups opposed to the Sudanese government must be encouraged to look for non-military solutions and create political platforms.
The other members of the panel also asked that Congress lead the charge in the government taking more direct and concerted action with international partners to end human rights abuses in Sudan.
This was the second such hearing before members of the House of Representatives on the violent conflicts in Sudan in last three weeks. In the first hearing on September 22nd, Tom Andrews, President of United to End Genocide, presented policy recommendations for ending the conflicts in Sudan by using targeted sanctions on individual perpetrators, exerting pressure on Sudan’s allies to make civilian protection a priority, and establishing an arms embargo that covers all of Sudan. You can read his congressional testimony on our blog.