US names envoy to find 'peaceful political solution' in Sudan

US special envoy to South Sudan Donald Booth speak to the press in Juba in this March 25, 2015 file photo. — AFP

WASHINGTON — The US State Department nominated experienced Africa hand Donald Booth as a special envoy to Sudan on Wednesday, hoping he can help craft a "peaceful political solution" between the military rulers and groups seeking civilian rule.

The nomination comes nine days after government troops and paramilitaries cracked down on protesters outside army headquarters in Khartoum, killing more than 110 and wounding hundreds over several days.

Booth, 65, knows the country well, having served as the Obama administration's special envoy to Sudan and South Sudan over 2013-2017.

State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said Booth is already at work, traveling with Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Tibor Nagy to Sudan "to engage with the parties."

Between 2005 and 2013, Booth served as US ambassador to Liberia, Zambia and then Ethiopia.

As special envoy to the two Sudans, Booth visited Khartoum numerous times and helped maintain a measured level of relations with the regime of President Omar Bashir, who was under indictment for genocide by the international criminal court.

Bashir's ouster by the military on April 11 after three decades of strongman rule sparked a nationwide movement calling for a civilian government.

But talks on the composition of a new governing body broke down and on June 3 the military launched a crackdown on thousands of protesters, drawing international indignation.

Senator Cory Booker, who is seeking the Democratic nomination to run for president in 2020, wrote to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last week demanding he name a special envoy for Sudan and an ambassador in Khartoum — a post currently vacant.

"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 US diplomatic leadership to international efforts to address the crises in the two countries and to pursue sustainable peace in and between the two Sudans," Booker wrote. — AFP