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Danforth to be named U.S. envoy to Sudan

Former Sen. John Danforth  

By Andrea Koppel

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Bush administration is expected to announce this week that former U.S. Sen. John Danforth, a Missouri Republican, has been chosen to be the special U.S. envoy to Sudan, CNN has learned.

A senior State Department official says the announcement of Danforth's new role would come from the White House this week.

The Bush administration has been under pressure from Congress to address issues involved in the Sudanese conflict. A vocal contingent in Congress, including conservative Christians concerned about religious oppression and slavery, has long advocated non-lethal aid to the opposition forces.

Recently, President Bush appointed a coordinator for the U.S. Agency for International Development, an economic development agency, to deal specifically with the humanitarian crisis in the country.

At a glance: Sudan  

Millions of Sudanese civilians have died as a result of the country's 18-year-old civil war between the Arab and Muslim government in Khartoum and non-Muslim black Africans in the southern part of the country who want greater autonomy. A severe drought in the country has been compounded by the government's unwillingness to allow aid to reach the south.

"It's a good first step in the right direction," said Eric Hotmire, a spokesman for Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kansas, chairman of the Foreign Relations subcommittee that deals with Sudan.

But Hotmire urged the administration to use the additional $10 million Brownback added last year to the foreign operations bill for logistical support for opposition groups, including the Sudanese People's Liberation Army (SPLA). The SPLA is the main rebel group fighting for independence.

But Harry Johnston, a former congressman from Florida and the Clinton administration's special envoy to the Sudan, said that the funding will not bolster the position of the main opposition movement, the National Democratic Alliance, with the government in Khartoum.

"It is like a flea on an elephant," Johnston told CNN. "As long as the Sudanese government has all this oil money, it will not be deterred by a few million and won't bargain in good faith."

Johnston said the Bush administration should push for a summit between the two sides. He said that while Bush has shown an initial interest in Sudan, he doesn't believe it will be sustained.

"We are right on cycle," he said. "This issue comes up about every 36 months and has a shelf life of about six months. I really don't think the Bush administration wants to become involved in Africa because it doesn't think Africa is in its national interest."

• Sudan cease-fire talks fail
June 2, 2001

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