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Associated Press
Washington – President Bush’s special envoy for Sudan, Andrew Natsios, has resigned, U.S. officials said Friday.
Natsios oversaw a push to end the violence that the United States calls genocide in Sudan’s troubled western Darfur region and worked to maintain a 2005 peace agreement that ended decades of civil war between north and south Sudan.
The officials who confirmed Natsios’ resignation spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to make the announcement, which was expected from the White House along with the nomination of his successor, former deputy U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Richard Williamson.
Williamson, a senior Republican party official in Illinois, is close to current Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte, whom he worked under when Negroponte was the top U.S. envoy at the U.N.
No details of Natsios’ resignation were immediately available but several officials and Darfur observers said he had been frustrated by bureaucratic infighting within the administration over Sudan policy and recently informed Bush and White House chief of staff Josh Bolten of his intention to resign. Others noted he had accepted the job for a one-year tour.
Bush appointed Natsios to the position in September 2006. From 2001 to 2005, he served as administrator of the United States Agency for International Development, the U.S. foreign aid program.
After news of the resignation became public, Darfur advocates immediately called for the White House to appoint a full-time envoy to deal with the crisis that has killed more than 200,000 people and displaced more than 2.5 million since 2003 when the region’s ethnic African rebels began fighting the Arab-dominated Sudanese government and its militia allies.
“The president should appoint a full-time envoy answering directly to him, and end the crippling turf battles once and for all,” said John Prendergast of the Save Darfur Coalition.
Prendergast said Williamson, who is known as Rich, is a “hard-nosed negotiator” who cares deeply about the plight of the Sudanese people and might be more able than Natsios to break through the bureaucracy to make a mark on Sudan policy.
Earlier this week, Congress passed legislation that would allow states, localities and private investors in the United States to cut their investment ties with Sudan.
The legislation adds to sanctions already in place against the Khartoum government meant to pressure Sudan into ending the murderous violence in Darfur region of the country but the Bush administration has expressed concerns about Congress authorizing state and local divestment policies in the foreign policy area.
Bush, however, is expected to sign the bill.
Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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