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Princeton Lyman Resigns: The Future Of US Diplomacy In The Sudans

Princeton Lyman, US special envoy for Sudan and South Sudan, is stepping down. A White House source characterised Lyman’s departure as “the kind of personnel change that is normal at the end of a president’s first term and start of a second.”  President Obama appointed Lyman as special envoy on March 31, 2011.  He is the fifth holder of the post, following John Danforth (September 2001 – June 2004, when he was appointed as US ambassador to the United Nations; from New York, he continued his involvement in the negotiations that led to the CPA), Andrew Natsios (October 2006 – December 2007), Richard Williamson (January 2008 – January 2009) and Scott Gration (the first Obama appointee, March 2009 – March 2011).

In a long series of envoys, Lyman was the most successful since Danforth.  First appointed in 2010 to help negotiate post-secession arrangements between north and south, he played a key role in bolstering the efforts of his one time boss, Gration, at the critical juncture around the referendum.  As envoy, Lyman was in charge as the CPA ended and Sudan’s split was peacefully achieved.  He was able to continue a relationship with Khartoum without sycophantically cosying up to the regime – as did Gration – or being unnecessarily antagonistic towards the NCP in public, as were Natsios and Williamson.  In short, he was a better diplomat. …

Aly Verjee is senior researcher at the Rift Valley Institute.

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