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February 2, 2010

You asked. President Obama responds.

Yesterday, President Obama responded to a question on Sudan submitted by Enough Project and voted by the general public as the most popular foreign policy question. Thanks to a dynamic social media campaign, online voters made clear they wanted the president to better explain what he is doing to avert a resumption of widespread bloodshed in Sudan. The outpouring of support for a query on Sudan is all the more impressive given that some 14,000 potential questions were submitted for the online interview. Watch what President Obama had to say on Sudan, and read his remarks. http://www.enoughproject.org/YouTube

Enough’s Co-founder, John Prendergast took some issue with the president’s statement:
"President Obama's response is missing two elements. First, there is no full-time field-based diplomatic presence in Sudan and the surrounding region working on both Darfur and the North-South issues to make sure peace efforts have a chance of success. So we would like to see him deploy that diplomatic capacity and challenge other nations with influence to do the same. Without that kind of on the ground U.S. leadership, the kind that led to the 2005 North-South peace deal, the risk of further conflict is very high. Second, diplomatic engagement should be backed by real and immediate pressures on the Sudanese government. It is not a case of engagement versus pressure as the president seems to imply. The U.S. should be working to build a coalition of countries willing to escalate pressures in support of peace – pressures that would include targeted asset freezes and travel bans, expansion of the arms embargo, denial of debt relief, and suspension of aid to the deeply flawed election. Introducing these consequences into the equation would influence the calculations of the parties and help move them toward lasting peace."

Since President Obama took office, an estimated 2,500 people have been killed in violent clashes in southern Sudan <http://www.enoughproject.org/glossary/term/109?Array> . Here's our petition to President Obama that we hope you'll sign as well:
"Thank you for responding to our question about the crisis in Sudan. We agree with you, Mr. President, that there is an acute threat of violence during the upcoming elections and referendum period. We respectfully disagree, however, that our government has made the progress necessary to broker agreements in Sudan that will stabilize the country. We therefore urge you, Mr. President, to lead other counties willing to escalate pressures on the parties in support of peace. Only with increased pressures and a full-time field-based diplomatic presence in Sudan, working on both Darfur <http://www.enoughproject.org/glossary/term/102?Array>  and the North-South issues, will peace efforts have a chance of success."

Add your name to the petition
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