Round-up of today's House hearing on Sudan

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In case you missed today’s hearing in the House Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health - which included US Special Envoy General Scott Gration's first testimony before Congress since the release of the administration's Sudan policy we've put together some highlights and a wrap-up of blogs, commentary, and news coverage.

Highlights
Members of the committee, including chairman Rep. Donald Payne (D-NJ), ranking member Rep. Christopher Smith (R-NJ), Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), Rep. Brad Miller (D-NC), Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), and surprise attendee Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) expressed frustration about the deterioration of conditions in Darfur, the continued intransigence of the Khartoum government, and the lack of clear benchmarks to trigger incentives and pressures in the administration’s strategy. Several members pushed Gen. Gration on the administration’s efforts to round up multilateral support from key stakeholders (i.e. China and Arab States) for sanctions and other “sticks.” Many, Rep. Payne and Sen. Brownback in particular, expressed skepticism about the administration’s engagement with a government responsible for committing genocide.

On the second panel, John Prendergast of the ENOUGH Project highlighted the risks of moving forward with non-credible elections in Sudan and called on the administration to increase pressure on Khartoum now. Randy Newcomb of Humanity United focused on the need to support civil society engagement, local reconciliation efforts in Abyei, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile; and Enrico Carisch, former coordinator of the United Nations Panel of Experts on Sudan, highlighted the findings of the Panel’s report, which reveal numerous ongoing violations by Khartoum of existing agreements.

We heard through the grapevine that the transcript will be available in about a week’s time, so look out for it on the subcommittee’s website. For now, you can read submitted testimonies from Gen. Gration, John Prendergast, Randy Newcomb, and Enrico Carisch.

Commentary Wrap-up
John Norris of the ENOUGH Project criticized Gen. Gration’s poor handling of questions on the Obama administration’s policy of engagement, and recounted the “most head-scratching moment in the testimony,” when the General denied the existence of a ‘confidential annex’ to the Sudan policy review that had been mentioned by Secretary Clinton during the policy roll-out in October.

Over at Change.org’s Stop Genocide blog, Michelle pointed out the “willful ignorance” Gen. Gration demonstrated today about the dire prospects for Sudan’s presidential elections scheduled for next year. A report by the Carter Center released this week highlighted the daunting set of obstacles standing in the way of a "free and fair" election process.

Robert Lawrence at the Save Darfur Coalition and the blog Operation Broken Silence both offer great summaries of the hearing.

Also check out coverage from Voice of America, AFP, and CNN International.

Finally, several people, including Allyson Neville at Genocide Intervention Network (@AllysonNeville), Meghna Raj at the ENOUGH Project (@Meghna4ENOUGH), Michelle at Change.org (@michelle4change), the Save Darfur Coalition (@SaveDarfur), Susan Morgan (@susanmorgan) with Investors Against Genocide/the Massachusetts Coalition to Save Darfur, and me – at least for the first half – (@nmcmurry), were live-tweeting the hearing, so check out the #Sudan hashtag on Twitter for a more detailed play-by-play. 

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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