The US State Department has appointed a veteran diplomat as its special envoy for Sudan amid ongoing political turmoil in the African nation.
Donald Booth, a retired US ambassador and former special envoy, “will lead US efforts to support a political solution to the current crisis that reflects the will of the Sudanese people,” according to the State Department.
“His appointment demonstrates that the United States has a firm commitment to the Sudanese people and efforts to advance a peaceful political solution,” spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said Wednesday.
Booth comes to the role with experience in the region, having served as special envoy for Sudan and South Sudan from August 2013 to January 2017. He also served as US ambassador to Ethiopia, Zambia, and Liberia.
The newly-appointed envoy was already in the region on Wednesday, traveling with Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Tibor Nagy to Sudan and Ethiopia, according to the State Department. While the two US officials are in Sudan’s capital city of Khartoum, they will urge the Sudanese security forces to end their attacks on civilians, withdraw the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces from the city, and allow an independent investigation of the recent violence, Ortagus said.
Booth’s appointment comes months after longtime Sudanese leader Omar al-Bashir was unexpectedly deposed in April and more than a week after a bloody crackdown on protesters in Khartoum. On June 3, soldiers and paramilitary groups opened fire on a pro-democracy sit-in in the capital city, leading to the deaths of at least 118 people, according to the Central Committee of Sudan Doctors.
Governments around the world, including the US, have condemned that violence. On Tuesday, Sudan’s Military Council (TMC) announced it had detained a number of security officials involved in the deadly crackdown. On Wednesday, United Nations experts said they were seriously concerned that Sudan was sliding into a “human rights abyss” and urged the UN Human Rights Council to establish an independent investigation into violations against peaceful protesters since the start of the year
Sudan’s pro-democracy protesters called for “civil disobedience” throughout the country this week, saying the demonstration would only end when the ruling generals “transfer power to a civil transitional authority in accordance with the Declaration of Freedom and Change (DFC).”