- The Washington Times - Friday, September 7, 2001

President Bush yesterday appointed former Sen. John C. Danforth of Missouri to be America's peace envoy to warring Sudan, the oil-rich North African country ravaged by an 18-year civil war that the president has called a "disaster area for all human rights."

In a Rose Garden ceremony that included a former Sudanese slave, Mr. Bush said the world can no longer ignore the atrocities occurring in Sudan.

"The [Sudan] government has targeted civilians for violence and terror. It permits and encourages slavery. And the responsibility to end the war is on their shoulders. They must now seek the peace, and we want to help," Mr. Bush said.

By appointing Mr. Danforth, a 65-year-old ordained minister, Mr. Bush said he hoped to bring "some sanity" to the crisis in Sudan, where Christian and animist groups have been fighting the Muslim government for autonomy.

Mr. Danforth acknowledged he is not an expert on Sudan, but said his mission is to encourage not dictate peace.

"The possibility of peace depends on the will of combatants, not on the actions of even the best-intentioned outsiders, including the United States. Perhaps America can encourage peace; we cannot cause it," said Mr. Danforth, who last year ended an inquiry into the 1993 deaths of 80 Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas, that concluded the FBI did not start the fatal fire.

He plans to visit Sudan by November and hopes to decide within six months whether detailed peace talks or stronger actions are necessary.

Critics say the appointment falls short of what is needed: A firm demand that the northern Khartoum regime stop ethnic cleansing in the south and that China be held accountable for its involvement in the war, which has left nearly 2 million people dead.

"There's concern that this will be just another peace process. … I didn't hear [Mr. Bush] say today in the Rose Garden exactly what Danforth is going to Sudan to say," said Charles Jacobs, president of the American Anti-Slavery Group.

"I did not hear him say, 'Go there to Khartoum and say "Free the slaves."' I just heard talk, envoys," Mr. Jacobs said.

He said the real target in Sudan are the Iranians and Chinese, who are providing weapons to the armies in the north to protect Petro China's oil interests in the south.

Mr. Jacobs also faulted the Bush administration for opposing legislation that includes an amendment to bar foreign oil companies doing business in Sudan from listing on U.S. stock exchanges. The amendment, sponsored by Rep. Spencer Bachus, Alabama Republican, is part of the Sudan Peace Act, passed by both chambers and now in conference.

"Wall Street has organized a tremendous attack on the Bachus amendment, and we're afraid if it loses, then Danforth will have nothing in his back pocket to press Khartoum about. Now it's time for the stock market to say we will not allow American capital to be used for genocide and slavery," he said.

Sen. Sam Brownback, a Foreign Relations Committee member and a leader on issues involving Sudan, said Mr. Bush must take a firmer hand with China than the previous administration.

"That involves really stepping up your China policy, and not being afraid to confront the Chinese. … If you don't do it now, you're going to pay for it more later."

Still, Mr. Brownback said he is pleased the White House has raised the stature of the envoy to Sudan in the appointment of Mr. Danforth.

"We've had several special envoys on the Sudan, and it's just not elevated the discussion in this country or internationally to the degree we need to. I think this is an important step."


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