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Politics Daily (Blog

Secession and Fate of Darfur: Envoy
Says U.S. Alone Can't Ensure Fair
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Jacquelyn Ryan

Despite the United States' best efforts and abundant resources, only an international
effort can ensure a successful vote on secession in Sudan and block a renewed civil
war there, according to the U.S. envoy to that troubled African nation.

International observers anticipate mass killings across Sudan -- especially in Darfur --
if the Southern region doesn't get global help to prepare for a January referendum that
would allow it to secede.

There's pressure on the U.S. to intercede in a stronger way than the referendum:
Activists are urging the Obama administration to take a more public stance on what
will happen if the ruling government does not actively work to end the conflict.

But President Obama's envoy to Sudan, retired Maj. Gen. Scott Gration, told the
Senate Committee on Foreign Relations last week that the U.S. alone cannot
orchestrate the necessary steps toward southern secession. But splitting the country
appears to be the only viable solution to creating peace. Sudan has been torn apart by
a two-decade long civil war that has claimed the lives of nearly 3 million people.

"The referendum is
the hope for the people of South Sudan," said Center for Strategic and International
Studies' Africa program fellow Richard Downie.
Gration said during his Senate testimony the "we're calling on international
communities to work together in a collective way to resolve these problems and meet
the deadlines so we can have a peaceful divorce, a civil divorce instead of a civil

The specific problems of secession include coming to an agreement on how to divide
oil revenue and demarcate the border in Africa's second largest country, echoing the
steps outlined in a 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the warring
Southern Sudan People's Liberation Movement and the country's Khartoum

Days after Gration's testimony, the Sudanese government renewed bombing of its
own country in proclaimed efforts to eradicate and kill rebel forces embedded in the
civilian population. Gration said it's become clear the U.S. has little leverage over the
Sudanese government and its leader, Omar al-Bashir, to prevent war. He said that the
U.S. and international community have only one strong hope to leverage al-Bashir,
whom the International Criminal Court brought charges against last year.

"They want to be unyoked from sanctions, to get the legitimacy to move into the
circle of nations that are respected, and so to take that away would be painful,"
explained Gration. "To condemn and further isolate would be something . . . that
would have strong effect."

But John Prendergast, co-founder of the Enough Project, an initiative to end genocide
and other human rights crimes, said continuing to talk about the ways in which the
U.S. lacks power to stop the atrocities creates a "self-fulfilling prophecy."

"What you do as a diplomat is build leverage through your actions and deploying real
incentives and pressures," he said. "[Gration] and other U.S. officials do not seem to
fully comprehend the degree to which Bashir and other ruling party officials want to
make the ICC indictment go away and to normalize relations with the U.S."

The U.S. remains convinced that the January referendum is the correct path, Gration
said, noting, "We've been very clear that we will not tolerate obstruction or
roadblocks or messing with the referendum" by the government.

The Keys to Secession -- and Peace

Gration listed three issues that must be addressed if the January referendum to allow
secession is to succeed.
1. Oil revenue allocation. Oil is the number one driving force in the conflict, he said.
The United Nations estimates that 82 to 95 percent of the country's oil fields are in the
South, making up nearly all of the government's revenue in the South and more than
half of the entire country's budget. For secession to be peaceful, the two countries will
have to decide how to share the oil revenues, divide the pipeline and refineries and
negotiate current oil contracts, as stipulated in 2005's Comprehensive Peace
2. Learn from last month's presidential election. The international community decried
the election - the first multi-party ballot in the country in 24 years - as illegitimate and
rife with corruption. Despite the historically large turnout, issues surrounding voter
registration and the ability of citizens to vote must be resolved. Registration for the
January election begins July 9, and the two sides must also determine the eligibility of
people in the country's Abyei region, which will also vote to join either the North or
South if the country splits.
3. Demarcate the border. While the two sides generally agree on some borders
outlined in a 1956 map, the borders have yet to be physically demarcated. There also
continue to be questions and disagreements over parts of the border, particularly as
they relate to the Abyei region. Gration said the border must be marked by November
to prevent violence.