In a rare show of bipartisan unity, the three presidential candidates lent their names to a statement and newspaper ad Wednesday accusing the Sudanese government of genocide in the Darfur region and urging an end to the violence.
"We stand united and demand that the genocide and violence in Darfur be brought to an end," says the ad. It was paid for by the SaveDarfur Coalition, which describes itself on its Web site as an alliance of over 180 faith-based, advocacy and humanitarian organizations.
The coalition has posted videos on its Web site of the candidates discussing Darfur and a joint statement from the candidates condemning the Sudanese government as chiefly responsible for the violence and for failing to adhere to a peace agreement.
"We wish to make clear to the Sudanese government that on this moral issue of tremendous importance, there is no divide between us," the statement said in part. "Even as we campaign for the presidency, we will use our standing as senators to press for the steps needed to ensure that the United States honors, in practice and in deed, its commitment to the cause of peace and protection of Darfurs innocent citizenry ... It would be a huge mistake for the Khartoum regime to think that it will benefit by running out the clock on the Bush administration. "If peace and security for the people of Sudan are not in place when one of us is inaugurated as president on January 20, 2009, we pledge that the next administration will pursue these goals with unstinting resolve."
Fighting has raged in Darfur since 2003, when ethnic African tribesman took up arms, complaining of decades of neglect and discrimination by the Sudanese Arab-dominated government. The Sudanese government is accused of unleashing janjaweed militia forces to commit atrocities against ethnic African communities in the fight with rebel groups. The government denies the accusations.
More than 200,000 people have died and 2.5 million have been displaced in Darfur. President Bush has also labeled the situation there genocide.