March 31st, 2011
05:58 PM ET
WASHINGTON (CNN) – With his foreign policy team focused on an unfolding humanitarian crisis in Libya, and revolution and instability continuing to grip other portions of the Middle East and North Africa, President Obama has nominated Ambassador Princeton Lyman as his special envoy to another troubled part of the world, Sudan.
“With a lifetime of experience working on some of Africa’s most pressing challenges, Ambassador Lyman is uniquely qualified to sustain our efforts in support of a peaceful and prosperous future for the Sudanese people,” Obama said in a written statement Thursday announcing the appointment.
Sudan currently faces challenges on multiple fronts as the nation is set to split apart in July following a referendum earlier this year to divide the Arab north, and the predominantly Christian and Animist south into separate countries. The status of the oil rich region of Abyei, which sits near the border between north and south, is still an unresolved issue, and ongoing source of tension between the two sides. Separately, there is the ongoing crisis in the western region of Darfur, where proxy militias supported by the Sudanese government, are battling Darfurian tribes in a conflict over resources. The United States has previously labeled the situation in Darfur as “genocide.”
Obama said Lyman has “my full support and confidence,” to handle the entire Sudan portfolio in his new role.
Lyman, who has over four decades of experience dealing with Africa, was the State Department’s Senior Advisor on the North-South negotiations in Sudan leading up to the independence referendum. He served as U.S. Ambassador to South Africa during the country’s transition from apartheid to democracy, and ambassador to Nigeria before that. He was also a deputy assistant secretary of state for African affairs. His expertise will “advance U.S. interests and the aspirations of the Sudanese people during this time of transformative change in Sudan,” Obama said.
Gration, the son of missionary parents, spent much of his childhood living in Kenya and what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo.