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Sudan under pressure after south secedes
Question of the Day
The Obama administration, worried about the stability of the regime, is closely monitoring Khartoum’s reaction to the outcome of the secession vote, anti-government protests and fighting in the western province of Darfur.
A senior U.S. official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the matter, said the Obama administration has been very candid with Lt. Gen. al-Bashir’s government about the need to act with restraint.
U.S. and southern Sudanese officials are worried that a collapse of Gen. al-Bashir’s government could imperil the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement(CPA). Gen. al-Bashir’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP) signed the agreement with the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM). It ended two decades of civil war in which 2 million people were killed.
“Right now we all are concerned that if there is a party to [the CPA] that loses its way, it could imperil the peace agreement that we are trying to implement and could imperil the last elements of this agreement, which are really the most critical,” said the senior U.S. official.
Gen. al-Bashir on Monday said he would respect the decision of the southerners, who are mostly black Christians or animists, to secede from the north, dominated by Arab Muslims.
An official tally of the vote was announced at an emotionally charged ceremony in Khartoum on Monday. It showed that 98.83 percent of southerners favored secession. Out of more 3.8 million valid ballots cast, fewer than 45,000, or 1.17 percent, favored unity with the north.
The senior U.S. official said Gen. al-Bashir’s recognition of the results was a sign that the NCP had realized that the “downside risks of contesting this were so great that it was likely not worth the costs to the regime.”
Critics in Sudan have accused Gen. al-Bashir of losing the oil-rich south. The political upheaval sweeping across the Arab world, including in Sudan’s northern neighbor Egypt, has underscored the fragile state of his government.
“Events in the region highlight what we have known to be true for a long time, which is that the NCP is in a very precarious position domestically,” the senior U.S. official said.
Gen. al-Bashir also faces an International Criminal Court indictment over alleged war crimes in Darfur.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has sent a letter to Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper, requesting an intelligence community assessment of Sudan’s support for terrorist activities. The process, including congressional action, could take several months.
Recent six-month reviews conducted by U.S. intelligence agencies have found that Sudan is not supporting terrorism.
Mrs. Clinton linked delisting to the complete implementation of the CPA, including a political solution on the oil-producing region of Abyei and other pending post-referendum issues.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Ashish Kumar Sen is a reporter covering foreign policy and international developments for The Washington Times.
Prior to joining The Times, Mr. Sen worked for publications in Asia and the Middle East. His work has appeared in a number of publications and online news sites including the British Broadcasting Corp., Asia Times Online and Outlook magazine.
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