Last week, when I met with Salva Kiir, the President of Southern Sudan, one of the main concerns he expressed to me was that the sense of urgency the problems in Sudan merit within the international community was disappearing.  He said the appointment of a special envoy to Sudan by the United States could change that perspective.  I could not agree with him more.

Former Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick did an excellent job as the government’s point man in Sudan where he helped to forge the peace agreement in Darfur.  However, Zoellick’s recent departure from the State Department has left a huge void and now there is no longer a high-raking State Department official dedicated to working on the complex issues involved in Sudan.

Yesterday, Rep. Frank WolfFrank Rudolph WolfBottom line Africa's gathering storm DOJ opinion will help protect kids from dangers of online gambling MORE (R-VA) and I held a press conference on Capitol Hill to call for the administration to fill this void by appointing a special envoy to Sudan.  The president needs a special envoy – who has his full trust and authority – on the ground in Sudan to push the peace process forward in Darfur and bring lasting peace and stability to this war-torn African nation. We need to push the Bush administration until that becomes a reality.

I have grave concerns that the comprehensive north-south peace agreement is at risk and that the peace agreement in Darfur, which has yet to be fully implemented, may never truly be brought to fruition.  The crisis in Darfur is getting worse by the hour, and every minute we waste, we risk losing any momentum toward peace that has been gained through the signing of the recent peace agreement.

Every day in Darfur, men and women and children die a needless death because our attention is drawn elsewhere by the crisis of the day.  It's time to name a special envoy to Sudan, whose sole focus will be on the problems there, before more violence erupts in Sudan and it is too late to bring an end to the genocide in Darfur.