Obama offers Sudan a carrot and a stick

President Barack Obama on Monday announced a carrot-and-stick strategy to try to stop the killing in Sudan, offering incentives for better behavior from the government and threatening tighter sanctions for continued oppression.

“Sudan is now poised to fall further into chaos if swift action is not taken,” Obama said in a written statement.

“Our conscience and our interests in peace and security call upon the United States and the international community to act with a sense of urgency and purpose.”

He said two immediate steps must be taken to avoid further punishment:

? A “definitive” end to the conflict, human rights abuses and genocide in the Darfur region, which have killed hundreds of thousands.

? Implementing the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the north and south in Sudan.

“These two goals must both be pursued simultaneously with urgency. Achieving them requires the commitment of the United States, as well as the active participation of international partners,” he said. “Concurrently, we will work aggressively to ensure that Sudan does not provide a safe haven for international terrorists.”

As part of what he called a comprehensive strategy, Obama said he’d renew a declaration of a national emergency in Sudan later this week, allowing him continue sanctions if necessary.

“If the government of Sudan acts to improve the situation on the ground and to advance peace, there will be incentives,” he said. “If it does not, then there will be increased pressure imposed by the United States and the international community.”

The Sudan Now campaign, a coalition of human rights and anti-genocide groups, welcomed the new strategy but questioned whether Obama would follow through enough to be effective.

“The administration’s diplomatic efforts to date have led member organizations to question whether the policy, as articulated today, will be fully implemented in the days ahead,” the coalition said in a statement.

“Success will require President Obama, Vice President Biden and Secretary of State Clinton to live up to campaign promises and ensure that consequences are put into practice now for committing mass atrocities and undermining peace efforts,” it said.

Randy Newcomb, the president of Humanity United, one of the groups in the coalition, added, “The administration said many of the right things about Sudan today. But a sustainable peace in Sudan is more about meaningful implementation than it is about drafting a policy on paper.

“Peace will require the U.S. to build and lead a multilateral coalition anchored in full implementation of the north-south peace deal, a credible and inclusive Darfur peace process and a long-term commitment to address the root causes of conflict in Sudan. This will require a more robust and realistic U.S. diplomatic effort than we have seen to date.”

(c) 2009, McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.