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 You are in: Under Secretary for Political Affairs > Bureau of African Affairs > Releases > Remarks > 2006: African Affairs Remarks

Speaking with the Committee on Conscience About Darfur

Jendayi Frazer, Assistant Secretary for Africian Affairs
Remarks to Voices on Genocide Prevention
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, DC
January 19, 2006

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Narrator:
Welcome to Voices on Genocide Prevention, a podcasting service of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Your host is Jerry Fowler, Director of the Museum’s Committee on Conscience.

Jerry Fowler:
Our guest today is Jendayi Frazer. She is Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, and thus one of the top United States officials focusing on the crisis in Darfur and other issues related to Sudan. Before assuming her current position, she served as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Africa on the National Security Council, and is United States Ambassador to South Africa. Secretary Frazer, welcome to the program.

Jendayi Frazer:
Thank you Jerry, it is good to be here.

Jerry Fowler:
You have responsibility for all of sub-Saharan Africa, yet since you have assumed office at the end of August, a lot of your time has been spent on Sudan. What percentage of your time is going to Sudan right now?

Jendayi Frazer:
I would see a significant amount of my time because it is a top priority for the administration and it has been for many years. Even when I was the Senior Director to the President, I spent significant time on Sudan. In fact, the very second day of his administration—President Bush’s administration—January 22nd, he said to Secretary Rice, "I want to do something about Sudan," and so it has been a focus every since then.

Jerry Fowler:
He comes to Secretary Rice, who at the time was National Security Advisor, on the second day. Did that catch you by surprise?

Jendayi Frazer:
It did not catch me by surprise at all because I know President Bush had talked about Africa as one of the key areas in his foreign policy, and specifically because he had a global vision. Specifically he said that he wanted to stop the wars that were taking place around the world, for the United States to use its influence working multilaterally with others to try to end these wars, so it did not come as that much of a surprise frankly.

Jerry Fowler:
Of course, at that time, attention was focused on the conflict in Southern Sudan, which at the time had been going on for two decades. Thinking back to that period of time, what did you think as of 2001 were the prospects of bringing peace to Southern Sudan?

Jendayi Frazer:
We thought there was a good chance if we had the right strategy. In 2001, as you said there was a twenty-two year war, over two million people had died in that war, the government was the problem. It was very clear that the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement was the aggrieved party; they were the victims of this twenty-two year war. The United States unequivocally got behind the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, but we also understood that you could not win this war militarily. The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement could not take over Khartoum; it was not possible militarily, and the government of Sudan could never defeat the Southerners, and so what we came in and said is that there has to be a negotiated solution, and a just negotiated peace. We worked very hard to convince the government of Sudan that was the only option for them. We worked closely with the late Dr. John Garang and others in terms of their negotiation with the government—to stand not as a neutral broker, but to be a witness and to support the effort to achieve a just peace.

Jerry Fowler:
One of the most public steps that the President took with regard to Southern Sudan was the appointment in September of 2001 of former Senator John Danforth as Special Envoy for Peace in Sudan. How important was that step and then Senator Danforth’s role in bringing about peace?

Jendayi Frazer:
Senator Danforth played an extremely important role for us because at that time, as you know, our diplomatic posture in Khartoum was fairly low, and Senator Danforth was able to go out, to project America’s interests, and to do the shuttle diplomacy between Kenyans, who were the main mediators, go into Khartoum, talk to President Bashir and Vice President Taha and other senior leaders there, also go to Egypt to deal with the Egyptian foreign ministry and office of the presidency. He did a lot of shuttle diplomacy, and also he was able to talk domestically, to go to the Hill, to talk to the Senators and Congress members who were very interested in Sudan, and to talk to NGO groups, the religious organizations, faith-based organizations, the broader NGO community that was concerned about Sudan. He played a fairly critical role for us.

Jerry Fowler:
It must have made a big difference that he was appointed directly by the President and was seen from time to time to report to the President.

Jendayi Frazer:
He did report to the President, but so does the Secretary of State. Secretary Powell worked very closely on Sudan, as did the Assistant Secretary, Mr. Kansteiner, as well as myself and the National Security Advisor, Condoleezza Rice. We were all reporting to the President then and working very heavily on the Sudan issue.

Jerry Fowler:
I think you may be anticipating my next question, and we are going to talk more about Darfur in a minute, but I wonder, would it help in the efforts that you and Deputy Secretary Zoellick are so deeply involved in with regard to Darfur and other Sudan issues, to also have a presidential envoy along the lines of Senator Danforth?

Jendayi Frazer:
This is a question that people ask often, and whenever there is a major crisis the first answer that people often look to is a presidential envoy. The President does have an envoy; it is called the Secretary of State. She has been to Sudan already, she has put her Deputy Secretary as the point person; he went to Sudan four times last year. There is not a lack of engagement. The Deputy Secretary has gone to the Senate; he has gone to the House, he has testified, he meets with Senators and Congress people. I do the same as the Assistant Secretary. If you want an envoy to emphasize engagement, you already have it. The Secretary, Secretary Rice, the Deputy Secretary, and I were sitting in the Oval Office just yesterday talking to the President about Sudan. There is no lack of high level attention on Sudan, and the President himself is most engaged, and there is no lack of diplomacy taking place, including going to Sudan. I have been to Juba, I have been to Darfur, and I have been to Khartoum. The Deputy Secretary has been into all of the regions in Sudan as well. That is a long way to say, no, I do not think a presidential envoy is needed to emphasize the engagement or to support the diplomacy of President Bush at this moment, but that is not to say that he will not decide to appoint an envoy. That is the President’s choice, the President’s decision, but certainly in terms of getting the job done, I think that he has all of his senior officials working Sudan right now.

Jerry Fowler:
I know there obviously is a lot of work to be done on Sudan so maybe if we could go through some of the big issues that you are dealing with—we were talking about peace in the South and as I think is well known, the outcome of the diplomatic efforts was what is termed the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, the CPA, which provided for the Southern rebels to form a government of National Unity with the previous regime. Where do things stand on implementation of the CPA?

Jendayi Frazer:
The CPA is being implemented. We just celebrated the one year anniversary on January 9th of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, so I think it is important to remember that it has been a year, that the CPA was actually signed, then another six months or so when John Garang actually went to Khartoum, was installed as the first Vice President, and then we had his tragic death which obviously slowed down implementation. I say that it is being implemented because most of the major commissions are established now—the Joint Defense Board, the Natural Petroleum Commission, the Assessment and Evaluation Commission. Most of the Commissions are established, the new Constitution is in place, the government of Southern Sudan has been stood up—it has a Constitution, its cabinet members have been appointed—the National Assembly is in place, the government of Southern Sudan is in place. The Commission is there, the infrastructure is there, the members are there, but producing the work of the Commission is now where we are putting our emphasis. We actually have to have them doing the work, but most of the Commissions—the infrastructure of this new government of National Unity—is basically in place.

Jerry Fowler:
There have been some allegations and concern that these structural steps are being taken but that the—it is hard to know what to call them, but—the powers that be in Khartoum are really obstructing implementation, they are slowing things down, and they are not cooperating. What is your sense of that?

Jendayi Frazer:
I think that there is an element of truth to that, that certainly we would expect for decisions to be made much more quickly and that for actions to be taken. One can assume that there is some slow rolling. I think that within the government of National Unity, there are elements that support the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, and there are elements that do not support the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, and so you would expect a bit of back and forth. It is important to note that the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement was a liberation movement. Now, their city and government, their expertise, their knowledge, their capacity has to be strengthened as well to try to move this process forward, and, so yes, I think there are elements that are dragging the process along. I would agree with that assessment.

Jerry Fowler:
You mentioned, obviously, the challenge to the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement to go from being a rebel movement to being a part of government—both the National government, and then as you referred to, setting up a regional government in South Sudan. How is that progressing? That must be an incredible challenge since there is no administrative infrastructure.

Jendayi Frazer:
It is a challenge; it definitely is a challenge, but when I was there, in Juba, and I met with Vice President Salva Kiir, and I met with the head of government of Southern Sudan’s National Assembly, and I met with their new cabinet ministers, what you see is a true commitment for the peace to have some concrete dividend for the people of Southern Sudan. I think they are committed, and we are certainly working with them; we are opening up a consulate in Juba; we are trying to get more development assistance there to try to build the capacity; we have various American NGOs—the IRI, NDI, the National Democratic Institute, the International Republican Institute—are there trying to provide assistance and help with training of the new legislators and to transform the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement into a political party.

Jerry Fowler:
In the context of that tremendous challenge, let us turn to Darfur. There was a lot of hope that having the Southerners become part of the national government would help facilitate a resolution of the crisis in Darfur. The death of John Garang obviously made that prospect even more problematic. What role is Salva Kiir now playing with regard to Darfur and are you seeing any progress because the Southerners are in the national government?

Jendayi Frazer:
The main action on Darfur are the peace talks that are taking place in Abuja, and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement does have representatives as part of the government of National Unity’s team in Abuja, but the progress there has been in fits and starts as well. There has been more progress on wealth sharing and power sharing than on developing the security arrangement. Deputy Secretary Zoellick has had an opportunity to talk with Vice President Taha just this week to try to push forward those Abuja talks, to speed up the negotiations. I have talked to Vice President Kiir yesterday as well. We both emphasized to them that there needs to be a joint negotiating position from the government of National Unity. The government of National Unity did not come up with joint negotiation position before the launch of this seventh round. We are working with him and with Vice President Kiir and Taha to try to get the government to act as one and be forthcoming in this negotiation.

Jerry Fowler:
In addition to the challenge of getting a joint negotiating position for the government of Sudan, what are the obstacles to increasing the rate of progress in Abuja?

Jendayi Frazer:
There is also the rebel side. There is the Sudanese Liberation Movement rebels which have two factions— Abdul-Wahid and many Minawi—the fact that they were not unified prior to this round actually delayed the negotiations. You also have the Justice and Equality Movement. We have to get the rebel leaders also united in a position which I think they are in this last round, and also to help them to understand that what is possible. The framework for these negotiations, which are being headed by the African Union negotiator, Dr. Salim Salim, is the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. It is how does Darfur fit within a united Sudan? How can the people of Darfur share in the power and in the wealth of the country? That power and wealth agreement was a North-South agreement, so now we have to bring Darfur into that formula. It is educating the rebels even on the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, on the new Constitution of the country. We have, in Abuja, Roger Winter, who is the Deputy Secretary’s representative, another experienced hand on Sudan. He has been working on Sudan for many years. He is serving as a sort of envoy and shuttle diplomacy. He is going to go to Khartoum probably next week to talk to Vice President Taha about how we can move those negotiations along faster. We also have a very experienced Charge, Ambassador Cameron Hume. He has tremendous knowledge in conflict resolution. He worked very successfully in that field in Mozambique. Before I was Ambassador to South Africa, he was Ambassador to South Africa—again, another very experience diplomat who is working very closely with the rebels and the government to try to push forth the negotiations, as well as Ambassador John Yates, another experienced diplomat. All of them have been present in Abuja trying to help the rebels as well as the government of National Unity, and back the mediation effort of the African Union. We are engaged on a daily basis, on an hourly basis.

Jerry Fowler:
As this process in Abuja is moving forward, obviously there is the situation in Darfur itself and on the ground, and by all accounts the security situation has been getting worse now for a couple of months, after a period of relative stability. The main protection that civilians have is coming from a relatively small African Union monitoring force that numbers now about 7,000. A couple of issues are raised with that, the first, at the end of the last calendar year, there was an attempt by the United States—by you, by the administration—to get fifty million dollars appropriated to support that African Union force, and Congress did not approve that. Where do you think things stand on providing the resources to the force that is on the ground?

Jendayi Frazer:
We are going to continue to fund this mission—what we call the AMIS, the African Union Mission—and we have provided about 170 million dollars to build thirty-two base camps to provide the type of infrastructure and logistics so the African Union mission can operate. We are interested in getting more troops there, from 7,000 to at least 12,000, to help provide a security environment. This obviously is going to require resources. We hear quite a lot from Congress that the administration must do something about Darfur; we need to bring about a political settlement, at the same time we have to stabilize the security environment to ensure that humanitarian assistance and relief can get to the people in the IDP camps. We need assistance, we need the funding. We are going back to Congress and we are going to ask for money again. We have to keep the AMIS force operating. That is a first element. Obviously Congress controls spending, we have sent up a budget, we have sent up another budget, so the Secretary is sending up through O and B another request for additional assistance for the AMIS force and we hope that Congress will provide that assistance, but we also need to look at a longer term strategy for how to build the capacity of the AMIS force, and there we are looking at the potential of a United Nations operation. I have called about ten or fifteen African heads of state this week, trying to talk to them about looking at the eventuality of blue-hatting AMIS. We have done this in Liberia with great success, we have done it in Burundi, we have done it in Sierra Leone, and we have done it in Cote d’Ivoire. There is precedent for having the African Union Mission that is there be augmented by other international forces under a United Nations mandate.

Jerry Fowler:
What is the time table for making that happen?

Jendayi Frazer:
I was on the phone just this afternoon and this morning and yesterday. The Peace and Security Council of the African Union is meeting today, and we are hoping that this issue was discussed at that Peace and Security Council meeting, and that if we are successful that at the African Union summit later this month, they will look at this issue very closely and make a decision there. Now, once the African Union goes through its consultation, and if the end result of those consultations is a request to the United Nations, then the United Nations would have to start to plan a process if they are going to blue-hat this, so it can take some months from now. It is not a quick solution; it is a necessary one.

Jerry Fowler:
Is there any prospect of some intermediate step? Some people have talked about a European Union or NATO led bridging force that could be authorized by the United Nations but could go in more quickly while this more complicated process is working out.

Jendayi Frazer:
I think that we have to consider all of the options. The objective here is to stabilize Darfur while the peace talks are going on. There are two elements: one is to push the peace talks to conclude early and successfully, and second is to increase the capacity of the African Union mission. The international community cannot do that, we have to do that in partnership with the African Union, and that is fifty-three or fifty-four countries of the African Union that have to go through their own consultation. We are certainly talking to NATO, we are talking to the European Union, we are talking to the African Union, and we are talking to the United Nations about what we might do collectively. You will remember that it was the United States and NATO that airlifted in the first African Union troops—the Rwandans and the Nigerians. It is that type of international partnership that is going to be necessary to stabilize Darfur.

Jerry Fowler:
There are now about 7,000 African Union troops. You talked about getting the numbers up to 12,000, and then we talked about some process of augmenting that. Realistically, how soon can we expect to see more boots on the ground?

Jendayi Frazer:
That is a hard question for me to answer. Realistically, if the African Union makes a request for the United Nations to blue-hat, and then the United Nations accepts that request, we can push hard for them to move forward, but there are two more elements to this that will have to precede new boots on the ground that is under a blue-hat United Nations mission, and that is that the Security Council provides a resolution to give that mandate, and that the government of Sudan accepts a United Nations mission. Now we expect them to do so because they have accepted a United Nations mission in Southern Sudan. It is not a stretch for that mission or another one to have forces in Darfur. The point is that we need approval of the government of Sudan, the National Unity government, and we also need the National Security Council to agree to this. I mention that because we need China and Russia to accept for there to be a new United Nations mission in Darfur, to get new boots on the ground under a blue-hat mandate.

Jerry Fowler:
There are a lot of issues we could cover and we are running short of time, so let me focus on what you just talked about, especially the problem of China. I know that you, I think for the first time, have started a strategic dialogue with China on issues related to Africa. Particularly with regard to Sudan and Darfur, what has been your interaction with the Chinese and what are the prospects that they are going to start being more cooperative and positive?

Jendayi Frazer:
It is actually Deputy Secretary Zoellick who has a strategic dialogue with China and I am leading a sub-regional dialogue as I would call it, on Africa. Indeed one of the big issues that we discussed when I went to Beijing was Sudan. Their Assistant Secretary equivalent is actually also their envoy for Sudan, and it was very clear to him. We shared a concern about the situation that it is unacceptable for so many people to be in these IDP camps, so many people to be refugees in Chad, to have left their homes because of the Janjaweed attacks against them supported by the government, as well as the rebel attacks—the Sudanese Liberation Movement and the Justice and Equality Movement—have also attacked African Union forces and the civilians—as President Bush would call them, the innocent people in Darfur. We talked about that. China’s concern is stability. Their biggest issue was that they could not do anything to destabilize Sudan. My response is, "The government has already destabilized Sudan by its actions in Darfur, and that is the threat to stability."

Jerry Fowler:
Do the Chinese have trouble accepting that? It seems self-evident that if what you want is stability—to protect your investments in their case—that Darfur is moving the country in the wrong direction.

Jendayi Frazer:
I think that the Chinese are aware that they have to try to do something in the atrocities in Darfur. I am certain that the special envoy who is an old Africa hand understands this, but what we need the Chinese to do is to bring pressure on the government to do something about the situation, and to do something, meaning to not support the Janjaweed, to in fact, disarm the Janjaweed for that matter, to stop the atrocities that they are carrying out against the people, to unequivocally indicate that that is their policy, that their policy is to bring stability to Darfur and to allow the Darfurian people to have a stake in a national, unified government of Sudan in which the wealth and power of that country is shared with all of the people. The Chinese understand the message; we were unequivocal in giving it to them. I know that the Deputy Secretary has done so. We expect China to play a positive role in this regard, and China has said it has some of its observers in the AMIS force itself, so they have first-hand witness to what is taking place in Darfur. We will continue in our dialogue with China to try to push them to do the right thing in Sudan.

Jerry Fowler:
Secretary Frazer, I think there are a lot more issues we could talk about but we are at the end of our time. I want to thank you so much for joining us and I hope that you will agree to come back sometime.


Jendayi Frazer:
Absolutely, I have enjoyed it. Thank you very much.

Narrator:
You have been listening to Voices on Genocide Prevention, a podcasting service of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. To learn more about the Museum’s Committee on Conscience, visit our website at www.committeeonconscience.org.


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