Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Reuters AlertNet reports: S. Sudan head meets U.S. envoys, seeks Darfur peace

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Salva Kiir meets US Envoys as the new era of Southern Sudan leadership begins:
Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Connie Newman and the U.S. special envoy to Sudan, Roger Winter, flew on Wednesday morning into New Site, a settlement in the south Sudanese bush where Garang's body is on view.

Washington has dispatched them to help efforts to maintain the January peace accord between the SPLM and Khartoum government in the north that ended 21 years of civil conflict.

Garang was a major force behind the peace agreement and had taken Sudan's vice-presidency in a new power-sharing government just three weeks before he was killed. His death sparked rioting that has killed dozens in Khartoum and raised fears in some quarters that the peace deal may unravel.

"Enemies of peace may want to take opportunity of this situation so they don't allow the government and the SPLM to implement the peace agreement," Kiir said before going into a meeting with the U.S. pair.

"So we are very much concerned about that and we would want to stop it and that is why we are appealing to all the Sudanese people to refrain from any hostility."

The U.S. envoys were due to stay overnight in New Site before going onto Juba, also in southern Sudan, on Wednesday. From there, they will go north to Khartoum to meet President Omar Hassan al-Bashir.
He says the right things. The US is happy with him as welll:
Washington, which is focusing its diplomacy on encouraging a smooth transition in the SPLM, has welcomed Kiir's selection.

"It's a good thing that this process has moved forward," State Department spokesman Tom Casey said on Tuesday.

"We're continuing to look for -- and what we are so far seeing -- is an orderly and peaceful succession process for the position of first vice president."
Is this a good thing? The US has certainly invested a great deal of time and energy encouraging the peace between the North and South. That effort has inadvertantly tied the Administration's hands in terms of Darfur. Khartoum has used the negotiations with the South to blackmail the US. If the US took a harder line against Sudan's treatment of Darfur, Sudan would scuttle the negotiations with the South.

Mr. Kiir lacks Mr. Granger's political and diplomatic skill, according to Professor Eric Reeves. This will encourage the NIF to run roughshod over the South. The North may even consider resuming hostilities. Now that their war by proxy in Darfur has effectively neutralized opposition in the region, the Sudanese government can bring the full might of their military to bare.

Why, exactly, does the U.S. support Mr. Kiir? One good sign is that the SPLM chose him. Surely they would not choose a leader they didn't believe in, right? International pressure may hold Khartoum's hand for the time being; the peace accord still calls for Kiir's participation as Vice President of the government. If he can overcome the tremendous obstacles that await him, Darfur might have a chance.

Let us all pray that he does.