Foreign Policy Blogs

U.S. Special Envoy on U.S. Involvement in Post-Election Sudan

Speculation over the likely fraudulent results of Sudan’s April 11-15 elections continues, with a particular focus on what the re-election of incumbent President Omar Hassan Ahmed Bashir will mean for southern Sudan’s upcoming referendum on independence.

Sudan’s 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement that mandated these elections also includes the condition that in January 2011, southern Sudan will hold a referendum on splitting from Khartoum, which, if passed, could create the first new nation in Africa since Eritrea declared independence from Ethiopia in 1993.

Though some argue that Sudan’s first multi-party elections in almost 25 years election signal important progress for the country, there is also concern regarding the possibility that a re-elected Bashir will not allow the referendum to actually take place, placing Sudan on the path to civil war once again.

While southern Sudan has no power grid, no agriculture, no industry, no public transit, and only a few buildings, it does include most of the country’s oil fields, an asset Bashir is unlikely to want to readily relinquish.

And what should be the role of the United States? This is surely a question that will continue to be raised with increasing urgency. For one, U.S. Envoy to Sudan, General Scott Gration, has urged the administration to “redouble” efforts towards preparing southern Sudan to be an independent country. He stressed, “we in America are looking at a surge,” adding,  “I don’t think [the United States] can avoid having a leadership role.”




Alexandra Raphel

Alexandra Raphel recently returned from the hot and sandy Gulf State of Qatar, where she worked for the Brookings Doha Center, a project of the Brookings Institution. Prior to moving to Doha, she interned for the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings in Washington. Alexandra has also worked for the Iraq Study Group, the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. She survived four winters at the University of Chicago, where she obtained a B.A. in Political Science. She now works for a global international development firm based in Washington, D.C. and enjoys football (watching, not playing), perusing art museums, and learning to ride her bike.