US names Tom Perriello new special envoy to Sudan in push to end war

Tuesday February 27 2024

Smoke rises above buildings after an aerial bombardment during clashes between the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces and the army in Khartoum, Sudan on May 1, 2023. PHOTO | REUTERS


The United States is tapping former diplomat and congressman Tom Perriello as Washington's special envoy for Sudan as it seeks direct influence on the path to peace in the troubled country.

Mr Perriello will help coordinate US diplomacy and efforts with partners across Africa and the Middle East to end the war, humanitarian crisis and atrocities, a dispatch said on Monday.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Perriello would “advance our efforts to end the hostilities, secure unhindered humanitarian access, and support the Sudanese people as they seek to fulfil their aspirations for freedom, peace, and justice”.

He will also work to “empower Sudan's civilian leaders and push US engagement with partners in Africa, the Middle East, and the international community to forge a united approach to stop this senseless conflict, prevent further atrocities, and promote accountability for crimes already committed”.

Read: UN special envoy to Sudan resigns after friction

In the statement, Washington said there is urgency to prevent “an already dire humanitarian situation from turning into catastrophic famine”.


Before the appointment, Perriello had been a special envoy in the Great Lakes region of Africa, appointed by US former president Barack Obama in 2015.

He also served as a member of the US House of Representatives from 2009 - 2011.

After receiving his PhD from Yale University in 2001, he moved to West Africa and served as an advisor to the International Prosecutor of the Special Court in Sierra Leone, where he worked with former child soldiers and pro-democracy groups.

Mr Perriello has also played many diplomatic roles and worked with international justice efforts in Kosovo, Darfur and Afghanistan.

After leaving Congress, Mr Perriello moved on to the role of CEO of the American Progressive Action Fund, a non-profit organisation. He also served as a policy advisor to the Fund on voting, immigration, firearms, and women's issues.

His appointment as US special envoy to Sudan comes months after US lawmakers called for the appointment of a senior expert to help prevent Sudan from sliding deeper into a war that is one of the world's worst humanitarian crises.

Read: WFP: People dying of starvation in Sudan

He will not be in the role of ambassador to Sudan though.

Washington also said its ambassador to Sudan, John Godfrey, had completed his tenure in Khartoum.

Mr Godfrey was the first US ambassador to Khartoum in 25 years, a glimmer of hope after the ouster of former dictator Omar al-Bashir.

“Former ambassador Daniel Rubinstein will serve as Chargé d’Affaires and interim for Sudan as the Director of the Office of Sudan Affairs and will work closely with Special Envoy Perriello, as will the Sudan team in the Bureau of African Affairs,” the statement said.

The appointment of a US special envoy for Sudan comes just days after US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller confirmed that US is deeply concerned by “the military's recent decision to block cross-border humanitarian assistance from Chad and reports that the Sudan Armed Forces (Saf) are obstructing the delivery of assistance to communities in areas controlled by the Rapid Support Forces (RSF).”

The war between the army and the paramilitary RSF has devastated parts of the country, killing more than 13,000 people, while 1.6 million people have fled, according to UN estimates.