Freedom from fear. A generation has been born and raised the world over since Sudan held elections. This week, the people of this war-torn country voted. The Obama Administration proclaimed the elections would be as “free and fair as possible.” Genocidaire and Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir no doubt enjoyed such legitimization. After all, if the American president is willing to legitimize the election via U.S. envoy Scott Gration, Bashir demonstrated hubris and confidence that the do-gooders would be silenced, or muffled as he continues to engage with partner Scott Gration, as their razzle-dazzle diplomatic dance obscures his intentions. His record. The truth of genocide, the gerrymandering of districts throughout Sudan, the rampant corruption, occasional kidnap of Aid workers, the unreported rapes and murders of his opponents, and so many more crimes against humanity.
Not so fast, Mr. Bashir. Because President Obama has not been so forceful as some had hoped does not mean the whole of the human rights community will be muffled or silenced. Maybe that is how it works in Khartoum but that is not reflective of life in the free world.
The “elections” in Sudan are yet another disturbing chapter in human history. The Enough Project, led by the scholarly voice of John Prendergast, has hosted leaders from civil society and human rights organizations on conference calls all week. Journalists were ostensibly the audience – but it was not an easy sell. On Tuesday, I was the only one who asked a question. By today’s call – after an appearance yesterday by Mr. Prendergast and the seraphic Mia Farrow – a handful of journalists were asking questions and writing stories. Given my background, I was heartened when Roll Call and National Journal were represented. Political journalists need this on their radar. It will be an issue in 2012 for Mr. Obama. It can’t be lost on him, or anyone up for election, that failing to champion the governance behind the policies he promised will have consequences. Genocide is not exactly an esoteric issue. Life and death, that’s the scope.
Undoubtedly, Mr. Obama’s predecessor George W. Bush set a high bar with regard to Africa, if nowhere else on the presidential portfolio. He appropriately designated what occurred in Darfur, Sudan, a genocide. The U.S. Congress unanimously recognized Omar al-Bashir had organized, sanctioned and overseen the genocide. Because the janjaweed slipped off the front pages does not mean evil has retreated from Darfur, or the whole of the Sudan.
As Mr. Prendergast noted, “We’re not responding to the resuscitation of the (Ugandan) Lord’s Resistance Army (rebels). We’re not responding to this major offensive in Darfur in Jebal Marra over the last couple of months that led to so many people being killed and displaced.”
The Obama Administration is also willfully blind. Key provisions in the Bush-era Comprehensive Peace Agreement of 2005, meant to lay a framework for peace across Sudan – notable now because the situation is perforating into a North versus South divide with a January referendum that will determine the country’s future. With oil revenues in the mix, it can’t possibly surprise seasoned foreign policy veterans at the State Department that Bashir will push, push, push to meet his own objectives unless and until their are teeth in the Obama Administration’s policies.
Prendergast was nakedly critical and honest, “…it becomes baffling why the Obama administration allows General (Scott) Gration, its special envoy, to continue make public statements that literally defy the facts on the ground on a very fundamental level.”
Sudan has been torn by war, genocide, rape, corruption and evil for more than 40 years. The elections are not free, nor fair. The results will not represent the will of the people. With many opposition leaders boycotting the elections, it is certain indicted war criminal Omar Hassan al-Bashir will remain the leader of this war-torn and genocide ravaged landscape. This architect of crimes against humanity has, unfortunately, received the tacit endorsement of President Barack Obama.
The transcript may be found here.
Elizabeth Blackney is best known as a media & communications strategist, political emissary, confidante and commentator. Perceptive and quick on the draw, she served as Political Director for BlogTalkRadio’s 2008 election coverage, and as a a writer for the AOL News Hot Seat. Now a full time opinionista, and Twitter maven, her targets are anti-war liberals, entrenched feminism, moral relativists and solipsistic elected officials and academics. Blackney authored Sex, Lies & Politricks.