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Civil war looms and the clock is ticking on Sudan

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undeterred Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-21-10 07:46 PM
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Civil war looms and the clock is ticking on Sudan
By Sam Bell Nov. 20, 2010

In January, Sudan, the largest country in Africa and one of the continent's most troubled, will most likely split in two as Southern Sudanese vote for independence. At the same time, Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, chairman of the African Affairs Subcommittee and one of the most important champions for peace in Sudan, will leave the U.S. Senate. His leadership will be sorely missed at a precarious moment in Sudan's history.

In 2005, a historic peace agreement ended more than 20 years of civil war between North and South Sudan. The conflict caused an estimated 2 million deaths, most of which were in the South. As part of the agreement that ended the war, Southerners were given the right to vote on whether or not to secede from Sudan and form a new country. That vote is scheduled for Jan. 9.

There is fear that fighting could reignite if critical aspects of the agreement are not implemented. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has called Sudan a "ticking time bomb," and the former director of National Intelligence told Congress this year that Southern Sudan is the place in the world most likely to experience genocide and mass atrocities.

Feingold has long pushed presidents of both parties to enhance their engagement on issues of peace and human rights in Africa. He has known about the risks of violence in Sudan for a long time and repeatedly pressed the Bush and Obama Administrations to take them seriously. Over the past few months, after more than a year in office, the Obama administration finally began acting on Feingold's advice. In September, a high-level diplomat was appointed to lead negotiations between the rival parties, and President Barack Obama participated in an important meeting of heads of state at the United Nations. While there is much work left to be done, Feingold has helped ensure that U.S. policy prioritizes the protection of civilians and promotion of peace in Southern Sudan.

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