Within the first week of taking office, President Obama appointed former Senator George Mitchell as special envoy for the Middle East and Richard Holbrooke as special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. Both men bring to the table years of experience and credibility and I applaud the president’s choices. Establishing high level representatives for these issues is indicative of their importance to the Obama Administration.

The same importance must be given to the naming of a special envoy to Sudan.

Senator Sam Brownback and I were the first members of Congress to lead a delegation to Darfur in 2004, where we witnessed first-hand the devastation and suffering. There should be no doubt, what is occurring in Darfur is genocide.

With relations between the North and South tenuous at best and the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in danger of disintegrating, time is of the essence to prevent the violence in Sudan from further escalating. Every day children are dying and women are being attacked.

This is why I have asked the president to appoint former Senator Bill Frist as special envoy to Sudan. Like both Mitchell and Holbrooke, Senator Frist has the credibility to make real progress toward bringing an end to the violence in Sudan.