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For the past two years, Human Rights Watch has advocated to block Sudan’s ascension to the African Union (AU) presidency. On January 29 Sudan withdrew its bid for the presidency, despite being slated to occupy the post after being passed over for it last year. Ghana was instead named to the chairmanship. In advance of January’s AU summit, Human Rights Watch joined a number of governments and a host of NGOs in calling on AU members to reject Sudan’s bid to lead the AU on the grounds that Khartoum has continued to engage in attacks on civilians, support abusive militias, and allow impunity for war crimes in Darfur. Sudan had previously vied for the AU presidency the year before, but was rejected following similar protests from Human Rights Watch and others. Sudan’s failure to secure the chairmanship yet again reflects the international community’s growing insistence that Khartoum take action to end the crisis in Darfur. Such pressure needs to yield concrete results, including a bolstered international peacekeeping force in the region, targeted sanctions against key Sudanese leaders, and ultimately, improved protections for the vulnerable civilian population.

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