Text of Cory Booker’s Letter on Sudan

On June 7, Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressing his concerns over the developing protests and violent crackdown in Sudan.

The full text of his letter can be found below, courtesy of a press release from Insider New Jersey.

June 7, 2019

The Honorable Mike Pompeo
U.S. Department of State
2201 C St NW
Washington, DC 20520

Dear Secretary Pompeo:

In light of the severe political turmoil in Sudan, I write to urge you to appoint a Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan to bring urgently needed U.S. diplomatic leadership to international efforts to address the crises in the two countries and to pursue sustainable peace in and between the two Sudans. In addition, I call on you to send a retired ambassador to lead Embassy Khartoum in a temporary capacity until the political crisis is resolved. The situation in Khartoum has clearly deteriorated to the point that a senior, experienced diplomat is needed to coordinate U.S. engagement on the ground.

In Sudan, the hope for a peaceful transition toward democracy dims as military leaders cling to power, ignoring regional condemnation and demands for a handover to civilian rule. In a remarkable display of resilience, the protesters whose peaceful persistence led to the overthrow President Omar al Bashir have vowed to persist in their non-violent resistance until the military turns over power. Security forces have recently responded to protesters with shocking levels of violence. The paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) have been deployed throughout the capital and some reports indicate they outnumber the regular military, creating a explosive and unpredictable environment. The violent June 3rd assault on the sit-in site was shocking. Dozens were killed, hundreds were injured, and assaults against civilians across the capital continue. Khartoum has effectively become a city under siege by its own security forces. The negotiations on a transition have collapsed, and positions on both sides have hardened. It is time for a fresh face at the United States embassy in Khartoum, and a retired ambassador could play a vital role in working with both sides to reach an arrangement that is acceptable to the main opposition coalition, the Forces for Freedom and Change. U.S. officials should reiterate that the United States cannot move forward toward normalizing relations with Sudan while the military remains in control and while security forces continue to use disproportionate force against unarmed citizens peacefully exercising their basic rights. 

In parallel with elevated diplomatic leadership on the ground in Khartoum, a U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan and South Sudan could bring much-needed focus and leadership to bear in engaging the disparate array of international actors involved in the two crises. The United Kingdom, Norway, the European Union, the African Union, and the United Nations all have envoys focused on these countries, and we are not currently engaging on these issues in capitals around the region as frequently as our counterparts. These crises currently require a level of shuttle diplomacy beyond Khartoum and Juba that would be nearly impossible for our diplomats based in those embassies. These crises are also overlapping, and foreign governments in East Africa and beyond seek to influence their outcome, sometimes in ways that may risk further destabilizing the countries. This strategic region deserves the attention of a seasoned diplomat who is dedicated to actively supporting its long term peace and stability. I urge you to appoint an envoy that will be fully dedicated to serving the U.S. interests in South Sudan and Sudan and not an individual that may be concurrently employed as has occurred in the past.

While relations between Sudan and South Sudan have improved in recent years, the civil war in South Sudan, the political crisis in Sudan, and the tenuous situation along their shared border are reminders the peace agreement between the two countries remains fragile as long as there is conflict in either country. Over two million people in Sudan remain displaced, some of them as refugees in South Sudan. Since the onset of South Sudan’s civil war, at least 400,000 people have died and more than four million have fled their homes. Sudan hosts almost a million South Sudanese refugees. Seven million people – more than two-thirds of South Sudan’s population – need humanitarian aid. More than 6.5 million people there are acutely food insecure. Last month, South Sudan’s rival parties agreed to a six month extension of a deadline to form a unity government in order to salvage a peace deal between the warring parties. It is critical that the United States and others increase pressure on all sides to preserve the ceasefire and find a more sustainable path toward peace. Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley shined a light on the depths of human suffering in the country and the need for U.S. leadership when she wrote, “I lost count of the number of women who told me they had been raped, their husbands had been shot or their children had been stolen before they fled to safety. But the most disturbing thing I saw was the seed of hate being planted in the children of South Sudan. South Sudan has failed its children. We must not.” 

This transnational nature of the crises in both countries requires the full-time attention of a diplomat who has the mandate to work across borders and coordinate a strategy to facilitate the resolution of multiple, interrelated conflicts in the two Sudans. Having both U.S. officials in place will demonstrate our commitment to pursuing peace and greater stability in the region and . Leadership from the United States is critical to facilitating a peaceful civilian-led transition in Sudan and a sustainable end to the conflict in South Sudan. I urge you to appoint a high level official to represent the U.S. in Khartoum and a Special Envoy to Sudan and South Sudan as soon as possible.

I appreciate your attention to this matter.


Senator Cory Booker (D-New Jersey)

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