The House International Relations Subcommittee on Africa met today to discuss the deteriorating situation in the Darfur region of Western Sudan. Subcommittee members echoed Bush’s remarks at the UN yesterday, demanding a bolder, swifter response to the growing crisis. But mere calls for action are no longer what is necessary. Congress needs to persuade the president to take a leading role in resolving the conflict in Darfur.
In the face of mounting attacks on civilians as the original deadline for the withdrawal of African Union peacekeepers approached, the AU agreed yesterday to extend its mission through the end of the year. But this is only a temporary reprive for the people of Darfur. The Bush Administration’s previously brokered peace agreement has been a failure, managing to get only one rebel group to sign the agreement back in May. That led the Khartoum regime to launch a major offensive against the non-signatories. The fractured peace accord also failed to mandate deployment of a UN peacekeeping force to oversee the agreement’s implementation.
Now, the U.S. must lead the way. America’s newly-appointed Special Envoy Andrew Natsios must capitalize on the extension of the AU mission to widen acceptance of the Darfur peace agreement to all stakeholders, ensure compliance with the agreement by government and government-backed forces, and enhance the capacity and secure a longer mandate for a robust peacekeeping force.
The Center for American Progress, alongside many other organizations in the U.S. and abroad, have long called for more direct involvement from President Bush in efforts to end the genocide in Darfur.
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