US envoy visits Sudan

May 5, 2010 12:00 am

, WASHINGTON, May 5 – US envoy Scott Gration returned this week to Sudan, his first visit there since last month\’s controversial elections, to pursue efforts to stabilize both southern and western parts of the country.

US State Department officials said Gration arrived Monday in the Sudanese capital Khartoum for two days of talks with Sudanese, UN and other officials about the fragile 2005 north-south Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).

The envoy is also likely to discuss the aftermath of the April 11-15 multi-party polls, the first in 24 years which re-elected President Omar al-Beshir, who faces an international arrest warrant on war crimes charges.

The credibility of the election was undermined by opposition boycotts, allegations of fraud and questions from international monitors about transparency.

A State Department official, who asked not to be named, told AFP that Gration will travel to the southern city of Juba on Wednesday.

In Juba, he will consult the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) and the southern Sudanese government about "the remaining issues around the full and complete implementation of the CPA," a State Department statement said.

Under the CPA, the Sudanese are set to hold a referendum in January on whether the mainly Christian and animists in the south will remain part of Sudan, which is dominated by the majority Arabs and Muslims in the north.

They are also set to hold a referendum next year on the status of the contested oil-rich region of Abyei.

He will also travel Thursday to Nyala, in the violence-hit western Darfur region, to meet with officials serving in the United Nations/African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), a State Department official said.

On the last leg of a trip ending May 9, Gration will leave Friday for Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to participate in African Union meetings on Sudan.

The talks will touch on "regional strategies and international coordination in support of CPA implementation and the Darfur peace process," the State Department statement said.

In Doha, the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), the main rebel group in Darfur, said at the weekend that the Sudanese government has brought the Darfur peace process to an end by launching a military offensive against the JEM.

JEM, one of two key Darfur rebel groups, signed a framework accord in February in Doha that was hailed by the international community as a major step toward bringing peace to the region devastated by a seven-year war.


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