WASHINGTON (CNN) – A Republican congressman urged the Obama administration Wednesday to not delay in appointing a special envoy for Sudan and floated the name of former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist for the job.
The comments from Virginia Rep. Frank Wolf come on the same day that the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir for a five-year campaign of violence in Darfur.
“The world knows what's happening in Sudan and Darfur and yet the Obama administration has failed to appoint a special envoy,” Wolf said on the House floor. “I have asked them to appoint a former senator, Bill Frist from Tennessee, who could start today.”
It’s not the first time Wolf has lobbied for Frist: the congressman wrote to the president in February asking for a special envoy to work on Darfur issues and recommended Frist for the position. The former Tennessee senator is a heart surgeon who has traveled to Sudan multiple times on medical missions. Wolf has also traveled to Sudan to survey the violence.
The White House has appointed high-level envoys for the Middle East as well as Afghanistan and Pakistan, but none yet to deal with the war-torn region of western Sudan. However, after meeting with administration officials in February, actor and activist George Clooney told reporters he had been assured that Obama would appoint an envoy for Sudan.
Wolf said action is needed now.
“Time is short,” he said. “The killing and the devastation goes on. The administration must act. This cannot wait.”
UPDATE: A White House spokesman tells CNN that no announcement is imminent regarding the envoy post.