President Bush has decided to name Andrew Natsios, the former administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, as his special...
UNITED NATIONS — President Bush has decided to name Andrew Natsios, the former administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, as his special envoy for Darfur in the hopes of reviving a diplomatic effort to end a 3 ½-year spree of violence in Sudan that has left hundreds of thousands dead, according to senior administration officials.
Bush is expected to announce the appointment today in a speech to world leaders at the U.N. General Assembly. The initiative follows increasing pressure from Congress and human-rights advocates to do more to halt what the Bush administration has termed the world’s only ongoing case of genocide.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Moller invited counterparts from nearly two dozen governments to participate in a high-level meeting on Darfur in New York on Friday.
Rice and British Prime Minister Tony Blair also have appealed to senior Chinese officials in recent days to apply pressure on the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, to allow a U.N. peacekeeping force of nearly 20,000 troops into the Darfur region. China, a major consumer of Sudanese oil, has resisted U.S. efforts to persuade the U.N. Security Council to punish Khartoum for its role in the violence.
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John Bolton, the chief U.S. delegate to the United Nations, meanwhile said the United States is planning to introduce a new Security Council resolution aimed at expanding a U.N. peacekeeping force in southern Sudan into Darfur. The U.N. force would replace 7,000 African Union peacekeepers who have struggled with few resources and limited success to stem the bloodshed.
African leaders will meet Wednesday in New York to decide whether to extend the African Union’s mandate, which is to expire Sept. 30. The U.S. and the United Nations are pressing the Africans to remain in Darfur in the hope that Sudan will ultimately agree to invite the U.N. force.
The conflict in Darfur began in February 2003, when two Darfurian rebel groups took up arms against the Islamic government in Khartoum, claiming mistreatment of the region’s primarily black tribes.
Sudan responded by arming, equipping and supporting Arab militia, known as the Janjaweed, who launched an attack on thousands of villages suspected of backing the rebels. The attacks have driven more than 2 million from their homes.
The U.N. special representative to Sudan, Jan Pronk of the Netherlands, declared Monday that the U.S.-brokered peace agreement “is nearly dead. It is in a coma. It ought to be under intensive care, but it isn’t.”
He said fighting has flared again, with the Sudanese government launching a major offensive and rebel factions vying for power.
The new violence has heightened criticism of the Bush administration’s handling of the crisis two years after then-Secretary of State Colin L. Powell called the killing genocide.
Bush had resisted international calls for a special envoy. By selecting Natsios, the administration has chosen a blunt leader with considerable backing among the American aid community and a long record of butting heads with the Sudanese over the delivery of humanitarian aid.