The State Department announced yesterday the creation of a Sudan negotiation support team, which will assist the U.S. diplomatic mission in Sudan in facilitating the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) implementation process. The support team, led by veteran U.S. Ambassador Princeton Lyman, will meet with various stakeholders in the CPA process over the next several weeks, including the leadership of the National Congress Party (NCP) and Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLA), as well as international actors from Norway, the United Kingdom, and the U.N.
“This is a welcome sign for us from the administration that it needs to bring in folks with that kind of résumé…It’s a good step. We now seem to be acknowledging the successful model that helped result in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005 that was negotiated by a team of senior diplomats on the ground in support of an Africa-led process.”
Ambassador Lyman’s extensive credentials in diplomacy in Africa–he served as the first U.S. Ambassador to post-apartheid South Africa, as well as Ambassador to Nigeria–are an encouraging indication of the Obama administration’s growing prioritization of the CPA implementation process. Sudan Now, the coalition of Sudan advocacy organizations, has continuously called for an increase in U.S. diplomatic engagement in the CPA process.
The United States’ participation in the CPA implementation process must be coordinated and multilateral. While this positive step is encouraging, further schisms in the Obama administration’s Sudan policy could jeopardize the diplomatic operation. President Obama must demonstrate the leadership required to ensure the success of Ambassador Lyman’s diplomatic team, as well as a peaceful referendum on Southern Sudanese independence.