Mr. Obama will tap Maj. Gen. J. Scott Gration, a Swahili-speaking retired Air Force officer who grew up in Africa as the son of missionaries, to take on one of the most delicate diplomatic missions of his presidency, according to three administration officials, who were not authorized to discuss the selection before the official announcement on Wednesday.
March, 18th 2008 – New York Times
According to the NYTimes, President Obama plans to appoint Maj. Gen. J. Scott Gration, a retired general and a close adviser as his Special Envoy to Sudan as the administration turns up the pressures on the Government in Khartoum. This is especially significant given that the International Criminal Court (ICC), issued an arrest warrant for Omar Hassan al-Bashir on 4 March 2009 on counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity. President al-Bashir responded by expulsion of aid groups.
What makes Major Gration an interesting choice is his past. Beyond just being a Swahili Speaker he has been in a similar situation thrice in his life, according to his Wikipedia entry
Gration grew up in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where his parents worked as missionaries; during the Congo Crisis in the early 1960s, his family was evacuated three times and became refugees.
This also reminds me of a much discussed piece on twitter that was featured in the Huffington Post by Mona Gable on “Why Obama Needs A Special Envoy to Africa (& not just George Clooney)” http://bit.ly/1SooZn
Hopefully, an envoy to Sudan is a begining for a more engaged Africa policy from this administration … and in more areas than just conflict resolution and into areas such as balanced trade, renewable energy and education initiatives.
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