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US Congress worried about ‘honey and cookies’ for Sudan government

September 30 - 2009 WASHINGTON

The US envoy for Sudan, Scott Gration has angered prominent members of the US Congress and advocacy groups for his new approach towards the government of Sudan. Four Congress members from both Democratic and Republican backgrounds have written a letter to President Barack Obama saying that they are ‘deeply concerned’ about the new approach. They warn of a political failure.

In an interview for Radio Dabanga, the US envoy  to Sudan, Scott Gration, had justified the new US-policy of friendly engagement rather than threats of sanctions by saying: ‘You catch more bears with honey’. He repeated similar wording to the Washington Post, as quoted from an interview during his visit in Darfur. In an article – published this week – Gration said: “We’ve got to think about giving out cookies. (…) Kids, countries – they react to gold stars, smiley faces, handshakes, agreements, talk, engagement.” Gration also expresses his confidence in the Sudan government, despite that its leader Omar Al Bashir has been indicted for war crimes in Darfur by the International Criminal Court. The government revived the war in Darfur last week with heavy aerial bombings at several places in Darfur, combined with attacks by local militias armed by the government.

Four co-chair members of the Sudan Caucus, a Congressional Member Organization for Sudan policies, sent the letter to President Obama writing: ‘…we are deeply concerned that the current approach toward Sudan is heading in the wrong direction and that the policy – if consistent with that approach – will fail to achieve our objectives to support peace and alleviate the suffering of the people of Sudan’. They ask president Obama to support ‘openly and unequivocally’ the International Criminal Court (ICC) to provide the US with ‘credibility in the eyes of the people of Darfur as a reliable mediator and broker for peace’. The letter of the 4 co-chairs is signed by Michael E Capuano (Democrat), Donald M. Payne (Democrat), Michael T. McCaul (Republican) and Frank R. Wolf (Republican). The spokesman of Gration told reporters that the quotes from the Washington Post were taken out of their context. The same statement followed a week earlier after Radio Dabanga aired an interview with Gration. His spokesman told reporters that Gration’s words were taken ‘out of context’, despite a transcript of the interview was published on Radio Dabanga’s website.

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