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The PJ Tatler

Bridget Johnson


June 18, 2013 - 10:18 am

Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) old partner in campaign finance reform is being shipped off to the Congo.

Former Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), who lost re-election in 2010 to Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), chaired the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs from 2001 to 2003 and 2007 to 2011.

Now, President Obama has appointed Feingold special envoy to the Great Lakes region of Africa — the tumultuous Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda. Last month the World Bank pledged $1 billion to the region contingent on parties in the region abiding by a peace deal. That hasn’t been easy.

“America can and should be playing a stronger role in the international community’s efforts to achieve peace in the Great Lakes region, stop the human rights violations being committed against Congolese civilians, and promote the establishment of a democratic, accountable government in the Democratic Republic of Congo,” said Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), current chairman of the Africa subcommittee.

“Senator Feingold is a superb choice for the first U.S. Special Envoy to the Great Lakes region. Over the last decade, there was no more passionate advocate in the Senate for responsible and constructive U.S. engagement in sub-Saharan Africa.”

Over the past year, more than 650,000 people have been displaced by fighting in North Kivu province.

Coons introduced a resolution last month calling on Obama to appoint a special envoy to “support and strengthen international effort to end conflict in the region; support accountability and justice for human rights violations; expand efforts to develop conflict-free and responsible mining practices; and strengthen the commitment by the DRC and regional actors to end the threat posed by armed groups in the region.”

“The challenges to peace in the Great Lakes region are as complex as they are urgent,” Coons continued. “Having a dedicated, high-level envoy to work with regional governments and the international community is essential to ending the violence and destruction plaguing the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and continuing to confront the threat posed by the LRA.”

“I have enormous confidence that Senator Feingold will make a real difference in this new role. I applaud the President’s selection and look forward to working with Senator Feingold to help advance the prospect for peace in the region.”

Bridget Johnson is a veteran journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She is an NPR contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.

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