Senator John Kerry confirmed today that he intends to tackle another intractable conflict: Sudan, the scene of Africa's longest running conflict and ethnic cleansing that has been terms a genocide. Kerry said in a statement to the Boston Globe that he intends to fashion legislation to bolster the peace process in Sudan, which is facing a critical milestone - a referendum on the succession of the south - that could lead to the resumption of war. Kerry did not give details about the planned legislation, but issued the following statement:
"I travelled to Sudan in April of 2009 and saw first-hand the devastation caused by years of conflict. At Al Salam refugee camp, I could feel the anger, frustration and sense of urgency that has developed over time. Sudan is at a critical moment and focused attention over the next few months is particularly crucial. I am now developing legislation that will affirm the United States’ commitment to support the fulfillment of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, offer policy guidance on Darfur and strengthen efforts to create a lasting peace in that region and, without prejudging the outcome of the January Referendum, lay out policy, humanitarian, and legal groundwork to address potential events in 2011."Kerry's comment comes one day after Hillary Clinton signalled in a speech at the Council on Foreign Relations would be a top priority for the administration over the next three months. In January, the mostly-Christian tribes of southern Sudan are expected to vote for independence from the mostly Muslim north, after suffering decades of war in Africa's longest-running conflict. The United States helped broker the peace agreement that provides for the referendum, but Clinton said more work needs to be done so that the north will accept its results instead of returning to war. She called Sudan a "ticking time bomb."
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Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.