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[Dehai-WN] VOA: Activists Urge Stronger US Policy Toward Two Sudans

From: Berhane Habtemariam <Berhane.Habtemariam_at_gmx.de_at_dehai.org>
Date: Sun, 19 Feb 2012 10:44:51 +0100

Activists Urge Stronger US Policy Toward Two Sudans

Nico Colombant

 February 19, 2012

While negotiations stall between the two Sudans on many issues that threaten
their coexistence, activists and analysts are urging a stronger U.S. policy.
The U.S. government was instrumental in bringing about the creation of South
Sudan in July, but since then it has been facing criticism for not doing
enough to help.

Disputes over payments have led to a shutdown of oil production from
landlocked South Sudan through Sudan's oil pipelines and facilities.

Sudan has warned it will strip the citizenship of an estimated 700,000
people who the government considers southerners.

Large parts of the Sudan-South Sudan border have yet to be defined.

A referendum which was supposed to take place to determine the status of the
disputed Abyei region has been postponed indefinitely.

For many U.S.-based activists and analysts, though, the biggest problem is
the ongoing violence on both sides of the border, committed by ethnic
militias, security forces and former rebels.

Republican Congressman Frank Wolf recently wrote a letter in which he
alerted President Barack Obama to a video highlighting alleged atrocities
perpetrated by Sudan's security forces against civilians in the Nuba
mountains. The Sudanese military has also launched attacks against
suspected rebels and sympathizers in the Blue Nile region.

Sudanese artist and activist Elshafei Mohamed staged a two-day hunger strike
last year outside the White House to alert U.S. authorities to the
situation. He feels frustrated by the U.S. government response.

"They are not acting and people now, they are suffering," said Mohamed.
"People there are dying. I am not sure why they are waiting. I hear a lot
of things but when I compare them to what is going on, on the ground, it is
really a big issue. It is not about talking."

Eric Reeves, a Sudan expert at Smith College, says the United States should
boost South Sudan's military to deal with both internal and cross-border

"If we are going to have security, anything like secure borders, if we are
going to provide security for these restive regions where there are
long-standing ethnic tensions, we have to increase the transport capacity
and the communications capacity in ways that the Obama administration have
not prioritized," he said.

Amir Idris, a Sudan expert at Fordham University, says U.S. diplomats spent
so much time helping South Sudan become a country after decades of conflict,
that it would be a shame for the post-independence phase to unravel so

"It seems to me if there are no solutions to these problems, South Sudan
will not be able to embark on a successful economic development and, at the
same time, these kinds of conflicts, these proxy conflicts, may spread in
South Sudan and also destabilize the south and make the process of building
the nation and the state a very complicated process," said Idris.

Analysts say, with the current uncertainties, both governments have been
cracking down on internal dissent, restraining the work of journalists and
human rights activists in the south, while arresting hundreds of protesters
in the north.

In recent statements, U.S. officials have urged the two countries to
increase efforts in finding a solution to a dispute over oil transit fees.
They have also called on the government of Sudan to open up humanitarian
access to conflict areas in the states of Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile,
saying there was a risk of famine.

In the 2013 proposed budget he sent to Congress, President Obama included
the possibility of debt cancellation for Sudan, as well as large amounts of
aid for South Sudan, if the two countries make progress both internally and
with each other.

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Received on Sun Feb 19 2012 - 04:45:26 EST
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