The Cable

Sudan group launches preemptive strike against possible special envoy pick

The Obama administration is getting close to nominating a new special envoy to Sudan, but a major Sudan advocacy organization is asking Secretary of State John Kerry not to nominate former U.S. Ambassador to Sudan Tim Carney. The advocacy group’s effort to squash the Carney nomination before it even exists is rare; NGOs usually wait ...

The Obama administration is getting close to nominating a new special envoy to Sudan, but a major Sudan advocacy organization is asking Secretary of State John Kerry not to nominate former U.S. Ambassador to Sudan Tim Carney.

The advocacy group’s effort to squash the Carney nomination before it even exists is rare; NGOs usually wait until someone is nominated before they express public opposition. But in this case, Act for Sudan is hoping to head off the Carney pick before it materializes.

The Washington-based group’s action reflects a broader ongoing frustration with the administration’s Sudan policy and the enduring legacy of Obama’s first Sudan envoy, Scott Gration, who clashed with advocates who saw him as too solicitous of the regime in Khartoum.

Informed sources tell The Cable that Carney is one of two finalists being considered to replace Princeton Lyman, the special envoy who followed Gration. The other finalist is former Ambassador to Indonesia Cameron Hume.

"It has come to our attention that former U.S. Ambassador to Sudan, Timothy Carney, is being considered for the position of Special Envoy," Act for Sudan wrote in a March 19 letter to Kerry.  "While Ambassador Carney has experience in Sudan, we are concerned that his publicly stated advice and guidance with regard to U.S. policy on Sudan will prolong the suffering of the Sudanese people and will undermine U.S. objectives to support a just peace and stable democracies in Sudan and South Sudan, which ultimately are in the best interest of the U.S. and the international community."

Act for Sudan referenced a February 2009 Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, chaired by Kerry, where Carney argued for several measures that the group feels would reward and benefit Sudan President Omar al-Bashir, who has been indicted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court. Carney proposed deferring the ICC warrant, sending an ambassador to Khartoum and removing Sudan from the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism. He opposed efforts to isolate Bashir.

Kerry said at the same hearing that "the players in Darfur, the South and the North all understand that there is going to be a very different effort to galvanize action over the course of the next months and year and this is a moment for serious people to buckle down and find some serious responses."

Hume, before serving as ambassador to Indonesia, also held diplomatic posts in Italy, Tunisia, Syria, Lebanon, the United Nations, and the Holy See. More recently he has served as ambassador to Algeria and to South Africa, and as chargé d’affaires to Sudan.

Last December, a coalition of Sudan advocacy groups wrote to President Barack Obama to ask him to take several additional steps to combat the ongoing violence in Sudan.

"Given the serious human rights violations and national security concerns the U.S. has with regard to Sudan and given the opportunity for positive democratic change that is developing among Sudanese opposition groups and civil society, the new Special Envoy should reflect a more robust policy," Act for Sudan wrote Monday. "We strongly believe that Ambassador Carney is the wrong man for this critical job.  Instead, we hope that you will choose someone with the capabilities, perspective and stature of Russ Feingold, Richard Williamson, Howard Berman, or Tom Periello, to name a few."

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