Report: US Candidate for Sudan Envoy Wants US Christian Right Neutralized
Chester A. Crocker, an experienced diplomat likely to be appointed by US Secretary of State Colin Powell as his special envoy to Sudan, wants assurances that he will be insulated from conservative views at the White House, according to associates familiar with his thinking quoted by the Washington Post on Thursday.
According to the Post, conservative Christian advocates, who form an important part of Bush's political base, have taken a special interest in the civil war in Sudan, urging the administration to support Christian rebels in the south against the Islamic government. At the forefront of this effort is William Franklin Graham, who delivered the prayer at Bush’s Inauguration.
US has already agreed to send south rebels in Sudan $3 million in assistance.
But both Crocker and Powell have staked out a different position: that tilting too heavily toward the Christians would only aggravate the three-decade conflict.
During his visit to Africa last week, the secretary announced that the United States would deal with "all parties" to bring about a ceasefire in Sudan. In Nairobi, for example, he avoided meeting John Garang, leader of the Sudan People's Liberation Army and the person whom the Christians' advocates see as a major standard bearer, said the report.
In a signal of evenhandedness, the secretary also urged the Sudanese government to stop bombing supplies donated to the south by international relief groups, declaring such attacks "reprehensible."
Crocker, described by the Post as a seasoned Africa hand who teaches at Georgetown University, said Wednesday that he had no comment on whether he would take the appointment until he spoke personally to the secretary.
But he has made clear to associates that while he believes the time is ripe for solving the Sudan conflict, the administration must be unified and clear in how it wants to go about it. He has stressed, those who know his position say, that providing the southerners with even non-lethal assistance like vehicles and radios is not conducive to peace talks.
The 18-year-old civil war between southern Christians and animists fighting for autonomy and the Khartoum Islamic government has claimed two million lives and displaced four million people in a region hit by a severe drought – Albawaba.com
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