Special Envoy to Sudan Gration on His Recent Visit to Juba and Khartoum
Special Envoy to Sudan
MR. CROWLEY: Good afternoon and welcome to the Department of State. We are in the midst of a very intensive period of effort leading up to the scheduled referendum in Sudan early in 2011. Scott Gration, last weekend, made his 20th trip to Sudan as special envoy, had meetings in Khartoum and in Juba, and laid out for authorities in both capitals what we expect them to do in terms of full implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and the potential benefits and consequences if they do or do not fulfill their obligations under the CPA. But we thought it was a good time to bring Scott back down just to bring you up to date on his most recent trip and what we’ll be doing between now and January to help support a successful referendum in Sudan.
MR. GRATION: Thank you, P.J., and good afternoon. Let me start by saying that the U.S. strategic priorities and objectives in Sudan have not changed and we support the full implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. We seek a definitive end to the conflict in Darfur, to the gross human rights abuses, to the genocide that has existed there. And we seek to make sure that Sudan never again becomes a haven for international terrorists.
The South has fought for 40 years for this opportunity to express their will in the referendum. The last 22 years they were at war ended when the CPA was signed. And they look forward to the referendum that will occur on the 9th of January of 2011. The North, on the other hand, is looking at losing 80 percent of its oil – or oil reserves, 50 percent of the oil revenues, to a third of their land, and to 30 percent of their population. So they’re still seeking to make unity attractive.
So you can see that there’s a tension between the North and the South. With only 114 days left before the referendum, there’s a lot of work that has to be done, and this is really a make-or-break period for Sudan. And we must ensure that the parties make those tough decisions to find agreements, to implement those things that have to be done so that there can be a peaceful and an on-time referendum, and also to avoid the potential for war.
The Obama Administration has been working very hard to implement our strategy. We’ve elevated our diplomatic efforts, and we’re working with other nations, with the United Nations, African Union, the European Union, and other multilateral organizations to get done all those things that have to be done. We’re making significant investments on the ground to prepare for whatever happens after the referenda. And we’re presenting the parties with actions that they can take and we’re incentivizing them.
Specifically, President Obama has agreed to participate in the high-level meetings, especially the one that’s hosted by the Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on the 24th of September. And this will bring high-level attention and focus on Sudan. Vice President Biden has also been engaged in Sudan. He traveled to Africa and engaged with leaders throughout the continent, and even the delegation from Southern Sudan, to make the points known about a free and fair, transparent referendum. And he urged the parties to do what they needed to do to make this happen.
Secretary Clinton has been involved in the entire time that I’ve been the envoy to Sudan. Most recently, she called Vice President Kiir and Vice President Taha to invite them to UNGA and to meetings there, and also to encourage them to take the steps that they need to take to improve the humanitarian situation in Darfur and implement the CPA. General Jones just called these individuals again yesterday to reinforce the themes that I presented last weekend.
We now have onboard Ambassador Princeton Lyman, a very seasoned diplomat, a respected negotiator, who will be the head of our U.S. negotiation support unit in Sudan. As many of you know, we’ve expanded our capacity in the South, and Ambassador Barrie Walkley is heading that effort as we build the capacity so that we can help Southern Sudan build its capacity. Ambassador Susan Rice has really been involved in helping bring together the United Nations and the nations represented there in full alignment with our goals and policies in the region.
This past Sunday, I did have an opportunity to go to Juba and Khartoum, and I outlined our expectations and I described potential incentives that could be theirs if they fully implemented the CPA. In the North, I described a pathway to normalization of relationships between the United States and Sudan. I made it clear that there was also a wide range of consequences that could be deployed if the situation in Sudan deteriorated or if they failed to make progress.
There are four phases to the initiative that we’ve outlined, and these are all made very clear in the fact sheet that you got yesterday. We will continue to build a robust and multinational response, one where the world stands together in contributing resources, in helping to implement the CPA, and helping making sure that Sudan doesn’t return to war.
We’re very involved with President Thabo Mbeki and the African Union’s High-Level Implementation Panel. We continue to work with Haile Menkerios and his UN team. We work with Ibrahim Gambari in UNAMID to work those issues of security in Darfur. We’re working with the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, to work on those financial issues that must be resolved if the south chooses to be independent. I personally made calls to the African Union, the UN, EU, to the troika made up of the UK and Norway, and to all the envoys of the P-5 countries.
We’re making continued investments in Sudan, and our hope and belief is that we can have a referendum on time, one that’s peaceful, but it’s certainly going to take the parties doing their job and it’s going to take the international community working together with the parties to make sure this gets pulled off.
At this time, I’m ready for your questions. Yes, ma’am.
QUESTION: Elise Labott with CNN, thank you. I have a couple of questions if you don’t mind. First of all, can you expand on what Ambassador Lyman will be doing out there? What specifically does this negotiation support unit do? Can you talk a little bit more about the upcoming meeting at the UN General Assembly on Sudan and what you hope to accomplish out of that?
And then I was just wondering about these kind of four steps that you lay out about the kind of balance that you’re trying to walk between getting the CPA implemented and getting a referendum done and peacefully, and also addressing the situation in Darfur. I mean, it seems as if a lot of the phases or a lot of the stages that you’re willing to implement aren’t kind of contingent upon the Darfur conflict, but ultimate normalization of relations – and I’m not sure, like, with the exchange of ambassadors and stuff – what needs to be done in Darfur for you to move ahead on a kind of large trajectory?
MR. GRATION: Great. I hope I can remember all that, but let me just run through as best I can. First of all, with Ambassador Princeton Lyman, as I said, he’s an extremely well-respected negotiator. He’s been involved in not only the negotiations as we came out of the apartheid period with South Africa, but he’s been involved in Nigeria. And so he brings a wealth of experience not only in Africa, but how to deal in Africa. And so we feel that he’s going to be a tremendous asset on the ground.
As you know, my job takes me around the world. It takes me not only to Africa, but it has a lot of responsibilities back here as we engage with advocacy groups, as we engage with the congress, as we engage with the diaspora and whatever. And having Ambassador Lyman on the ground in a full-time capacity, working specifically on the CPA issues and on the post-CPA issues – what we call the transitional issues – that’s going to be tremendous. And so I believe that he will bring not only a wealth of experience, but he’ll bring that continuous pressure and help to the parties as they work through these tough agreements. So I’m extremely pleased that he’s part of our team.
QUESTION: Is he going to be actually mediating the talks like Ambassador Zoellick did all those years ago?
MR. GRATION: Right now, we’re going to be supporting the talks. The African Union really has the mandate through Chairman Thabo Mbeki to do the first round of facilitation. But there will be times where Ambassador Lyman can be of tremendous help to both parties, and to suggest options to President Mbeki and his team.
On the second issue, you were asking about --
QUESTION: The UN meeting.
MR. GRATION: -- the UN meeting. What this will do, by having the president decide to participate early – he made the decision early – and what we’ve seen is that many other heads of states and senior leaders are also coming to the Sudan meeting. And what this will do is it will elevate Sudan on the world stage and make the international community pay a little bit more attention to what is happening. And for us, I think that’s great because it’s going to need everybody’s help in terms of infrastructure development – and I’m not just talking about the South, but I’m talking about Darfur too.
Sudan has put together a strategic plan for Darfur, and they themselves have put $1.9 billion over the next five years toward infrastructure development and improvements. The Arab League and – has put money toward this. And so what we’d like to do is capitalize on that momentum and come out of the UN General Assembly period with a renewed commitment to helping Sudan, if they choose independence, to be birthed in a way that avoids war and builds a new country, and if they choose to be unified, that they can work together in a way that makes one strong country that provides security and stability to all of the Africa.
QUESTION: And then just on the Darfur issue?
MR. GRATION: Yeah. It’s an excellent question because there has been some allegations that we’re neglecting Darfur for the CPA. What it – and it’s a perception issue. The issue is that there is 114 days left of the referendum, but that doesn’t mean we’re any less interested in Darfur. And the fact is I spent time on this last visit working with (inaudible) to find out how they’re doing in implementation of their strategy.
We continue to be involved with the joint mediation team in Doha. In fact, I’ll be meeting with Gabriel Bassole in the UN in the next week to help them as they put their plans and negotiate their plans for peace in Darfur. Now, peace with the rebels is a priority. We’re also very concerned about some of the things that we’ve seen recently that are destabilizing. There have been some assassinations. There have been fighting between those who are pro-Doha and those who are against Doha. And we’re very concerned in getting to the bottom of these and mitigating those tensions.
So we are very involved in Darfur, we will continue to be involved in Darfur, and we don’t see a solution in Sudan until the Darfur issues are resolved, and we’re talking there about increased stability, we’re talking about an environment that people voluntarily can go to places that they want to settle, we’re talking about access for UNAMID, and we’re talking accountability, justice, and ability for people to have their wrongs righted in a way that they respect and the way they want.
MR. CROWLEY: Sir.
MR. GRATION: We’ll work our way back. We’ll start in the front here.
QUESTION: Andy Quinn from Reuters. Just one follow-up on that – on the Sudan strategic plan for Darfur. Some critics are saying that they’re worried that this, by sort of – by emphasizing what they’re calling development, that that may deemphasize the peace process and that the effect would be sort of sweeping the problem under the rug – if you can get the IDPs resettled, get the sort of obvious problems of Darfur put away from the peace table, then the impetus for a real peace deal is going to decrease. I’m wondering if you could give me your assessment of what their strategic plan means for Darfur.
And secondly, on your – this basket of incentives and consequences that you’ve laid out, this comes a year after the first sort of announcement of the new carrot-and-stick approach. I’m wondering why, did it take so long? I mean, we’re – here we are, as you emphasized, so close to the referendum. Why was the U.S. so slow in putting its cards on the table here and telling them what they have to gain and lose by actually getting to a deal on all of this? It seems like it’s a little bit late in the game for it.
MR. GRATION: Right. On the first question on Darfur – okay, remind me what –
QUESTION: Their strategic – your assessment of Sudan’s strategic –
MR. GRATION: Okay.
QUESTION: -- plan.
MR. GRATION: Yeah.
QUESTION: Is that enough?
MR. GRATION: Okay. Let me just say that I was there when this plan was rolled out with President Mbeki, with the UK. And we listened to this plan, and it was very impressive for me to see that on the Sudan side was the chief of police, the head of the military, representatives from the governance in Darfur, and members of the humanitarian organization, the justice organization. In other words, it’s the first time that there’s been an all-of-government approach to this.
The second thing that was impressive about this is that they actually had a transparent approach. They gave me a copy of this and asked me to give my views on it before it happened. They opened it up to the international community to take a look at it. They really want this thing to succeed. And yes, there are some parts of it that we may have maybe a different approach on, but we’re continuing to work with them during the implementation phase to make sure the concerns you raised are looked at and seriously addressed.
Let me just walk back and talk to you about the two tracks that we’re pushing. The first track is in Doha, and that track has been primarily oriented toward rebels. And therefore, that’s probably the track that’s going to result in a ceasefire, because civilians don’t sign ceasefires. And so that – the ceasefire, the cessation of hostilities, and the transition through a DDR program will have to probably come out of the Doha arrangement. And sure it needs to be dovetailed, because there’s power arrangements, there’s well-sharing arrangements, land reform arrangements, so that it has to be dovetailed.
But on the other side is track is track two. And that’s one that looks at the IDPs, it looks at the civilian population, it looks at the Arab population, and figures out how do we come up with increasing their security, that in many ways, they’re getting in the way of the rebels fighting the government and they get involved in collateral damage. But the worst part is they are subject to the banditry, the lawlessness, and just a place that’s devoid of accountability and justice.
And so what we really have to do is start working – in addition to Doha on track one, we have to work on these rule of law issues and patterns of justice issues. And that’s what we’re doing. And in that also is transitioning from what is seven years of sustained relief to the next phase, which is sustainable development. And so we’re working with them to figure out how do we fix the environment, how do we stop the degradation so that more land is arable, and more – and that we can restore some of the trees that have been devastated.
Sudan ranks number three in the world for cutting down trees behind Indonesia and Brazil. And the fact is, if you take a look at the pictures of Sudan, and especially Darfur in 1973 and now, you’ll see that it’s totally changed in terms of what is under cultivation and where the forests used to be. And so what’s happening is is because the forests are gone, the water tables are shrinking, and all those kinds of things – so we actually have to start with the very, very big basics if we’re going to really have a sustainable development.
There has to be a big push on infrastructure development. And what we’re looking right now, if we’re going to bring peace and security is making sure that there’s roads between Fasher, Nyala, and Geneina. And in that triangle that’s captured by those three towns or cities is about 50 percent of the population, almost a hundred percent of the IDPs that are in that region. And so if we can bring some security to that triangle, if we can bring development, if we can make opportunities to create wealth and jobs, then we’re off to a good start. And that’s what the Sudan strategy for Darfur does: It brings development, it brings infrastructure, and it brings security to that region and then the rest of the region.
So I think it’s actually a very good plan. But the key is not in the words and that document. The key is in implementation, and they can’t do it by themselves. They’re going to need the United Nations and they’re going to need to have the support of international NGOs.
MR. CROWLEY: Farah.
QUESTION: Sudan has a long – I’m Farah Stockman with the Boston Globe. Sudan has a very long history of striking peace agreements and then backing away from them, failing to implement them. Your predecessors worked very hard to get the borders of Abyei demarcated by an international court. And Sudan signed that Abyei protocol and now they refuse to accept the ruling of the court, as I understand it. What have you done to press them to demarcate the borders of Abyei and to implement that part of the agreement?
MR. GRATION: Border demarcation, in general, is a big issue we’ve been working on. And we’re very happy to say that now the process has been established. The presidency just decided that in addition to the technical teams that will survey the border and implement not only the court of appeals border for Abyei, but the 1956 border that goes back to January 1st when they got their independence, that process will start shortly. And we’re hoping that that process will actually be able to demarcate on the ground the borders that are on paper.
QUESTION: To follow up, sir, should they accept the ruling of the court or not, and can you address the criticism that has been lobbied against you for – by people who say you haven’t worked hard enough to implement some of these things that your predecessors put in place?
MR. GRATION: I’m getting to that. First of all, my predecessors didn’t put anything in place. The agreements that we’ve been working on are agreements that have resulted from The Hague ruling, and we’re right now in the process to figuring out how we justify the competing themes. Right now, the Misiriya, as you know, are concerned that they keep having access to the water. The Dinkas believe that that area is theirs and they believe they need to have control over it. There’s many competing things and we’re in the process right now of sorting that out. But I don’t think anybody questions the border and where the border should be. They question how fluid the border is, how soft it is, and how if the South – or if Abyei goes with the South – how they will continue to have access and who will govern it.
QUESTION: You said CPA – I mean, the CPA was something, no? (Laughter.)
MR. GRATION: What do you mean?
QUESTION: You said, “My predecessors didn’t put anything in place.”
MR. GRATION: I’m talking about Abyei. The Abyei decision was done on the 22nd of July of last year; that’s when the ruling came down. And we’ve been working hand-in-glove with both the South and the North. I had meetings on Sunday on this issue. We will continue to have meetings. This is a very emotional issue for both the South and the North, and so there’s a wide gulf right now, and it’s a passionate issue. And – but we’re working very hard to help them find an agreement. This agreement is an agreement that they themselves are going to have to find, and we are trying to create the environment where they can come down and determine how they want to resolve this tough issue.
MR. CROWLEY: We’ll do Mary Beth and (inaudible).
QUESTION: Thanks. General, the ICC prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, is in town for meetings. I’m wondering if you’re going to meet with him. If not, why not? And he’s pressing for the arrest, or for steps by the international community, particularly in the case of Haroun – the guy that’s the governor of, I believe, South Kordofan – who has been indicted by the ICC and so on. I’m wondering what the U.S. is willing to do or able to do on that case in terms of him being removed from his position or arrested.
MR. GRATION: Yes, I am – I’m not scheduled to meet with him at this time, but we’ll take a look at that schedule. In terms of Haroun and President Bashir and others who have been indicted by the ICC, we continue to support calls of the ICC for these people to comply with the restrictions and requests from the ICC, and we’ll continue to do so.
QUESTION: Is there going to be any effort to bring pressure on Sudan so that they – they’ve been ordered to turn this guy Haroun over and they have not done so.
MR. GRATION: As I said, we continue to apply pressure, and this is one of the things that we’re asking for, and we’ll continue to make known our desires to have them comply with the ICC.
QUESTION: Thank you, sir. My name’s (inaudible) newspaper. General Gration, are you totally reconciled to the fact that come January 9th, we will have an independent state or an independent in the southern – in South Sudan? And how would you prepare for the eventuality that you might end up with two, possibly three failed states with volatile issues – loss of revenues, loss of oil, loss of all this. And what role – lastly, what role will the UN play in this particular – under these conditions?
MR. GRATION: First of all, we are working very hard for the compliance and implementation of the CPA so that the people of Southern Sudan and the people of Abyei have a chance to vote in a way that expresses their will. So we are not choosing sides whether unity should be attractive or whether succession should be the way to go; we’re just trying to put in place a process so that the people themselves can make the decision.
It is true that based on what we’re seeing and the sentiments that we’re able to read, that many people in the South are likely to vote for succession. And we are planning for both, because whether they secede or whether they still stay unified, the South still needs to have better governance, better security, better agriculture, better education, better delivery of public sector services, and so we’re continuing to build those. And if it remains united or if it becomes independent, the international community, the United Nations, all of us have a large role and things that we can do to make sure that Sudan is either successful as a whole or as two countries hopefully at peace with each other.
QUESTION: A quick follow-up, sir. If war is to break out, what kind of force would be needed to, let’s say – to sort of act as a buffer between the two countries in this case?
MR. GRATION: Well, as you know, we’re doing everything possible to make sure war doesn’t break out. And the main thing is to make sure that we have a referendum that allows the people to express their will. If we don’t have a referendum or if it’s delayed, then it obviously increases the risk and tensions go up. So that’s why we’re working so very hard to make sure the referendum takes place on time.
MR. CROWLEY: Last question.
QUESTION: Sir, how do you see or assess the Arab League contribution to the United States efforts to bring this to a good solution where probably, that would eliminate any – the fears that are dominant in the Middle East about any possible breakup of Sudan as a country? How do you assess the Arab League contribution to your efforts in Sudan?
MR. GRATION: Well, the good part is, is that most of the people that I’ve talked to in the Arab League recognize that the CPA is an internationally mandated process that allows the people of the South to express their will. This is not about President Bashir and the North giving up part of their land. It’s about full implementation of a process that was internationally mandated.
And so what I’ve seen as I’ve gone around, I’ve seen Egypt providing electrical power to Rumbek, I’ve seen programs where Arab countries are provided education and medical and infrastructure development. Certainly in Darfur, they’re doing a tremendous amount with building villages for IDPs to move into that have housing, have water, have schools, have mosques, and those kinds of things.
So the Arab League is involved; sure, everybody can do more, but the reality is, is that many countries are participating. As you know, the Government of Qatar provided a billion dollars in terms of grants and matching grants and loan guarantees and that kind of thing. The pledging conference – that was another $800 million that was pledged.
So there is a lot of interest in participation, but we’re hoping, at the UN General Assembly, that we can get more participation, especially from countries like Saudi Arabia and others who have the funds to be able to give, and we would like to see more efforts from countries like China and other folks who, again, have a stake in the outcome, the peaceful outcome, of this referendum. So we’ll be continuing to urge countries to get involved and participate more.
QUESTION: Can we say that the United States supports or leans more toward keeping Sudan as one country and not divided along ethnic lines or religious lines?
MR. GRATION: We can say that the United States would like to see stability and security in all of Africa, and we believe that Sudan has a major part. And we want to see this referendum, and whether they choose to be independent or whether they choose to be united, that the transition is smooth and peaceful and the countries – whether united or independent – are economically viable and that the future of Sudanese is better tomorrow than it is today.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. GRATION: That’s what we’re trying to seek.
MR. CROWLEY: Thank you.
# # #