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CNN'S AMANPOUR

Iraq Elections; Fighting Terrorism; Sudan to Divide?

Aired April 9, 2010 - 15:00:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, HOST: One fractured nation puts its trust in the ballot box, while another threatens to vote itself apart. How is President Obama's outreach to the Muslim world working?

Hello, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour, and welcome to our program.

Today we're taking the pulse of President Obama's efforts to improve relations with the Islamic world and to secure the peace in some of the most troubled places. We'll examine the future of Iraq, one month after elections that have yet to produce a clear winner.

We ask former prime minister Ayad Allawi, who leads by just two votes, about democracy, about new violence, and about the withdrawal of U.S. troops.

And then we turn to another place where the U.S. is also heavily invested, and that's Sudan. Will next week's elections there unravel a peace deal that was brokered by the Bush administration? We'll speak with a representatie of the southern Sudan government and a former Bush administration official concerned that Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, for all the talk of elections, could lead the country back to war.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JENDAYI FRAZER, FORMER ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE: What I fear, though, is that Bashir is not honorable. He goes back on his word. And so the low-intensity conflict that we see today will, in fact, escalate to a full- blown war that we saw -- the 22-year civil war that killed more than two million people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AMANPOUR: But first, the Obama administration's new tone in conversations with the Muslim world is showing some dividends since his big speech in Cairo last June.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: More recently, tension has been fed by colonialism that denied rights and opportunities to many Muslims and a Cold War in which Muslim-majority countries were too often treated as proxies without regard to their own aspirations.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AMANPOUR: And, of course, the U.S. struggle against terrorism. It wasn't just Muslim countries caught up in that. It was Muslim individuals as well such as the Swiss-born Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan.

The Bush administration had accused him of helping the Palestinian group Hamas through charitable donations. And though he denied it, he was refused entry into the United States in 2004 as he was preparing to take up a position as professor at Notre Dame University in the American Midwest. But last year he won an appeal.

And this week I spoke with Tariq Ramadan on his first visit here since the ban was lifted.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

AMANPOUR: So thank you for being here.

TARIQ RAMADAN, MUSLIM SCHOLAR: Thank you for your invitation.

AMANPOUR: So you must be really relieved to be back in the United States, right?

RAMADAN: Yes, I'm happy. And it's -- for me, you know, the whole process is clearing my name from all these wrong allegations and accusations, and now it's quite clear that, you know, my record is clear and there is nothing wrong in what I have been doing.

AMANPOUR: Do you think you were caught up in the heat of that moment back in 2004, or do you think some of those sensitivities remain?

RAMADAN: I think that it's deeper than that, because just after September the 11th, I came here, and I was invited, and I spoke -- I was even invited to the State Department to give a lecture there.

So it was really about my criticism towards the American policy in Afghanistan, in Iraq, and what I called the unilateral support towards the Israeli government, not respecting the Palestinian rights. So it was at that moment under the Bush administration.

AMANPOUR: Why are you back and taking such a public profile, high profile?

RAMADAN: Look, because, in fact, this story with the previous administration is over. Now it's really for me to come to the essential. And the essential is to say, for example, as a European and as a Westerner, that Islam is a Western religion and that Muslims are now American Muslims, European Muslims, and we have to live together. We have a common future.

It's quite important to reach out. This is the time when we need more explanation, more dialogue, and understanding better what the president, Barack Obama, said in Cairo was this. It was not only a speech towards the -- directed towards the Muslims and the Muslim-majority countries. It was also to the Americans understanding that now we are living together.

AMANPOUR: So, President Obama, as we mentioned, and as the world knows, has sort of charted a different course towards the Muslim world. That speech in Cairo was quite revolutionary.

Has the promise of that speech been fulfilled even in part over the last year?

RAMADAN: I think that, you know, we have to be constructively critical. Many things are still the same and remain the same. What he came with was a new vision and a new discourse, a new way to talk to the Muslims and to talk about our diversity and living together, and this has to be acknowledged. What he said, for example, about us living together and the values, this, you know, Cairo speech was very deep and very well thought.

AMANPOUR: Are you going to say anything different about this administration than you did the last one?

RAMADAN: No. It's quite clear that it's changing, and we have to acknowledge the shift. I don't want to criticize for the sake of criticizing. It's really constructive criticism.

So, yes, we are waiting for this administration to deliver and more practical things. We heard the words; now we need, you know, practical things to be done. And then, for example, when you had tensions with the Israeli government today, still the Palestinians are suffering in Gaza and they are suffering in the West Bank. We need things to be changed, and we need also this discourse on Islam to be translated into something which is a real policy for the future.

So I would say exactly the same as to what we are expecting, but there are positive trends that we have to take into account.

AMANPOUR: You, yourself, Mr. Ramadan, are a very controversial figure. You describe yourself as a Muslim reformer, as an Islamic reformer, and yet there are many people who say that you speak with a forked tongue. And I'm going to show you the cartoon -- and it's one of many, many cartoons that have been put out about you.

Basically, people are saying, because of some of the positions that you take or do not take, that you present yourself as one thing, but that you are an Islamist in sheep's clothing, as some people have said. You are a closet fundamentalist. Or as the French academic Caroline Fourest has said,"I don't see anyone today who's as effective as Tariq Ramadan in furthering fundamentalism in France," for instance.

So you're very controversial, because you do not take absolute positions against certain things that people in democracies, people in the West believe should be condemned out of hand --

RAMADAN: I think that this is --

AMANPOUR: -- such as stoning of women.

RAMADAN: No, this is completely wrong, because you have to come to what I'm saying and now the way it's described by people.

AMANPOUR: Can I show you then what you were saying --

RAMADAN: Yes --

(CROSSTALK)

AMANPOUR: -- in French debate with then Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy back in 2003?

Now, these are the pictures. What basically you were saying was, we should have a moratorium on stoning of women, while we can get a consensus amongst Islamic scholars.

And Mr. Sarkozy was furious. He said, what do you mean a moratorium? Don't you condemn it out of hand? What are you saying, that we just stop it a little bit, discuss it, and then continue it?

So, tell us, should you not condemn out of hand stoning of women for whatever reason?

RAMADAN: No, this is not the point, and the way you are translating what I am saying, what I said, is wrong. What I was saying is that myself, in my position, is this. I'm against implementing not only stoning. It's the hodud (ph), what we call in Arabic, the hodud (ph), is the penal code -- stoning, death penalty, and corporal punishment.

My position is that this is not implementable, but we are dealing with Muslims, and we are dealing with governments, and they are -- they believe in the Koran and they believe in the scriptural sources, and we have texts on this. To condemn sitting in Paris is not going to change anything on the ground, while, for example, France or the United States of America are dealing with these petro-monarchies and they are dealing with governments implementing them.

My position is quite clear. I'm against implementing them, and what I'm asking the scholars is three things. What do the texts say? What are the conditions? And in which context?

In the name of Islam, we have to stop and to come to a moratorium on this, and to have a discussion, exactly like Amnesty International, when it comes to death penalty. It's saying, let us first go for a moratorium, to stop it right now, and then to have a discussion.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

AMANPOUR: Coming up, we'll have more of that interview with Tariq Ramadan, as well as with James Zogby, who's the president of the Arab-American Institute, on the differences between Islam in America and in Europe.

That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NICOLAS SARKOZY, PRESIDENT OF FRANCE (through translator): The burqa is not a religious symbol. It's a sign of enslavement, of debasement.

I want to say this solemnly: The burqa will not be welcome on the territory of the French republic. We cannot accept in our country women imprisoned behind a net, deprived of all social life, deprived of their identity. This is not how the French republic perceives the dignity of women.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AMANPOUR: That was French President Nicolas Sarkozy speaking about one of the most contentious issues in France. Indeed, across Europe.

Rejoining our conversation with the Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan, and also James Zogby, founder and president of the Arab-American Institute, I began by asking Ramadan whether he agreed with the French president.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RAMADAN: No, I don't agree with this. I don't -- you know, I didn't agree with the French policy banning the headscarf in schools. I said it's wrong. And new laws for banning the niqab, covering the face, or the burqa in the streets is not going to happen. First we got the European Union saying this is not legal, this is not constitutional.

So my position is that the starting point is to have a position of principle. It's against Islam to impose to a women to wear the headscarf or the burqa. It's against the human rights to impose to a woman to take it off. This should be the principle of freedom.

AMANPOUR: James Zogby, this particular issue of clothes, symbols, religious or cultural, that doesn't play such a role here amongst Muslims in the United States, does it?

JAMES ZOGBY, FOUNDER & PRESIDENT, ARAB-AMERICAN INSTITUTE: No, and Europe's problem is bigger than clothing. It's a question of self- definition.

There is no ethnicity that defines being American. The absorptive quality of the American identity is such that Italians, Irish, Polish, and, yes, Arabs and Pakistanis within a few years become American, and America becomes changed with them. That doesn't happen in Europe.

You can be a third-generation Kurd in Germany and also be a Turk or an Algerian in France and also be an Arab or a Paki in London. That is the problem Europe faces, is that it has a difficulty expanding the definition of nationality to include a multicultural society. And that fundamental, I guess, bigotry or narrowness of identity is the real problem that France is facing, and they can't force this, as Tariq is saying -- they can't force people to adopt a French way, whatever that means, and not change France to reflect the diverse population that its country is becoming.

AMANPOUR: Do you think, Tariq, in general, that Europe will be able to figure this out? As James said, it's not just Muslims, but immigrants in general?

RAMADAN: Yes, I agree with that, that there is a problem of migration and immigrants in Europe, but I would say, we have to be very cautious not to judge Europe as if it was, you know, the same situation everywhere. We have now the second, third and all more (ph) generations, four generations in France or in the U.K.

And far from these national controversies about this new visibility -- because at the end of the day, in Switzerland, my country, we have this ban of the minarets, the headscarf in France, the mosques in Germany. All the visible symbols are problematic because it's as if this is a new presence creating problems.

But, still, if you go now and you assess what is happening in the societies -- in the Gallup, for example, survey is showing that the European Muslims are feeling European. They are feeling German. So we have to be -- to be cautious not to -- to look at it in a negative way, because I really think that deep down there is a movement of integration, contribution, and it will work, but we need time.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

AMANPOUR: And next, so what does it mean to be a Muslim in America nearly a decade after 9/11

More of our conversation in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

AMANPOUR: We return now to our conversation with Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan and James Zogby, who's the founder and president of the Arab- American Institute.

Tariq Ramadan comes from one of the most famous families in the Islamic world. His grandfather was Hassan al-Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

I asked Ramadan whether his family history might confuse people hearing his call about Islam and reform.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

AMANPOUR: I want to further ask you about your personal background, because you are the grandson of Hassan al-Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, which did usher in a period of Salafism, of extremism, of belief in a very strict version of Sharia and Islamic law. You've also not fully condemned a certain cleric who in 2003 talked about the rationalization for women as suicide bombers. And there are people --

RAMADAN: Please -- please -- please, no --

AMANPOUR: There are people here who are very confused about how to judge what you believe and what you're talking about and what you're trying to preach about Islam and reform.

RAMADAN: If you want to judge someone, you read what he is writing, and you look at what he's doing, and you don't come with, "Oh, your grandfather, it was said," because, first, what is said about, you know, my grandfather in this specific period of time in the '30s and the '40s was not what is said now. And we have to be very cautious to look at -- for example, the Muslim Brotherhood as something which has to be historically contextualized.

This is one.

The second, I'm not living in Egypt. I live and I was born and raised in Europe. And I am producing a thought for my time. I want to be judged on this.

So anyone who is telling you, I was not clear in suicide bombings, for example, or targeting innocent, he is wrong or she is wrong. This never happened.

My position on this is, the Palestinian resistance or the Iraqi resistance is legitimate. The means should be ethical. You cannot target innocent people. You cannot target civilians. I was always clear.

If so much mistrust is shedding on what I'm saying, what does it mean? Is it revealing something about me or about the state of affairs within the society, which is spreading around suspicion?

AMANPOUR: You're nodding, James Zogby. Is it revealing about Tariq Ramadan or about the state of the society that we live in?

ZOGBY: Listen, after President Obama spoke in Cairo, I remember I was actually on your network, and then I did another, and the reactions that -- that his speech received from American conservatives was shocking. I said at the end in answer to a question, will President Obama make change in people's attitudes? I said among Muslims, yes, but I'm not so sure he's going to win over American conservatives.

There is a problem. And Tariq is absolutely right. And the problem's here.

And I think President Obama has correctly identified his mission as president both ways. It's to create American understanding of the Muslim world, as well as Muslim understanding of America.

We've got a problem here. What is said about him is said about me. I'm a Maronite Catholic who, after I spoke at the Department of Justice's 40th anniversary of the civil rights -- signing of the civil rights bill, bloggers writing for fairly respectable sites said "Jihadist" or "Hezbollah supporter" or "Wahhabi supporter," Holder's buddy is a "Wahhabist." I mean, how nonsensical is that?

AMANPOUR: Do you think that -- but --

ZOGBY: And yet that is the poison that spreads and really begins to define myself and Tariq and others in very unfair ways.

AMANPOUR: OK, but do you think those are in the more -- some might say the creepy, loony corners of the blogosphere, or do you think this is something that is a real obstacle towards understanding, in the majority of the country?

ZOGBY: Not in the majority, but in a significant enough group of elites who begin to define and put it in print, and then make some people in politics hesitant to be able to speak out. Listen, when you had Barack Obama's opponents, mainstream Democrats and the Republican nominee, questioning his being a real American, not just his birth, but, yes, ma'am, no, he's not an Arab, he's a decent human being, that stuff sticks, and it means that we have leadership that has failed to address these issues.

AMANPOUR: OK, so you're here, Tariq Ramadan, to try to fix this. Can you do anything, do you think, that'll make a difference in these speeches that you're going to deliver and these public appearances?

RAMADAN: At least I'm trying to do something which is to speak about the new we. The new we, it's you and me, in the same of our common values and principles, to come together and to nurture around a sense of belonging, because at the end of the day, what is very important for American Muslims to feel at home and to contribute in a critical way, constructive way, exactly for Europeans.

And we all have to understand as citizens that this is a very, very imperative responsibility if we want to be able to talk to Muslim-majority countries and to Muslims around the world.

So the speech of Obama talking to Americans is very important, but us together, at our level, we should be much more committed to change these mentalities of victimhood.

AMANPOUR: It's a discussion that's going to go on for a long time, clearly.

Tariq Ramadan, James Zogby, thank you both so much for joining me.

ZOGBY: Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

AMANPOUR: And to join another discussion about a claim that victimization of Muslims in America is a complete myth, log on to Amanpour.com/Facebook.

And next, it was hoped that peace and democracy in Iraq would spread around the Middle East. What about the U.S. mission in Iraq now? How will it be affected by the uncertain steps there towards democracy?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

AMANPOUR: Welcome back to our program.

And we now turn to Iraq, where successful, yet inconclusive, elections have been followed by worsening violence.

This week, insurgents blasted Baghdad, leaving dozens dead and more than a hundred wounded. It was the latest in a series of recent attacks that have killed more than 100 people. And with no clear winner, the elections have led to political gridlock.

At last count, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki was two seats behind his main rival, the former prime minister, Ayad Allawi, who's now struggling to form a coalition government.

When I spoke to him this week, he told me that it would take about two months to form a new government, but some would consider that rather optimistic. And with the resurgence in violence, I also asked him if President Obama's plan to reduce U.S. forces to 50,000 by this summer was also too optimistic.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AYAD ALLAWI, FMR. PRIME MINISTER OF IRAQ: I think it's possible. I think it should be done. However, the security does not depend on the number of troops available here.

The security depends on getting out of the way of sectarianism, of embarking on a course, a real course of reconciliation, and the reconstructing the institutions, security institutions, to get them based on a professional basis and to get them in tact, loyal to the country as a whole, not loyal to the sect. And this is the way to improve and get the security improved in this country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AMANPOUR: But former U.S. ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker remains skeptical. He was there in Iraq during the U.S. surge. He tells me that U.S. troops will have to remain in the country for a long time.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RYAN CROCKER, FMR. U.S. AMBASSADOR TO IRAQ: They have moved a great distance, without question, but the distance in front of them is greater, still. The challenges are almost infinite.

You've touched on a few, there are more -- Kurd/Arab relations and so forth. It's going to be a very, very long road.

But the violence, while worrisome, is not a primary issue. It's a question of whether the violence affects the politics of government formation. That's what I think we really need to keep an eye on in this immediate phase. And then when a government is formed, a whole new set of challenges are going to be in front of us.

So we may be -- we may think we're done with Iraq, that it's been seven long years and it's time to switch channels, but, you know, it's just the beginning of the story.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AMANPOUR: I continued my conversation with Ambassador Crocker. And we were also joined by Brett McGuirk, another former Bush administration official who had helped negotiate the agreement between the U.S. and Iraq for the eventual withdrawal of U.S. troops.

I asked him what the surge in violence now means for the long-term stability of Iraq.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRETT MCGURK, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL OFFICIAL: We're in right now a period of highest risk. The 90 days after the election are always identified as a period of highest risk.

There are two timelines the White House is under. One is the security agreement, all U.S. forces by the end of 2011. That's a binding international agreement negotiated with the Iraqis. The second is a unilateral obligation, which President Obama said a month after coming into office at the end of August we'll be down to 50,000 troops.

AMANPOUR: Is that wise?

MCGURK: I think, to get Iraq right, you always have to be testing the assumptions. We have no idea what's going to happen day to day, and I think the assumptions underlying that withdrawal I think are called into question.

AMANPOUR: Would you agree with that, Ambassador Crocker, given the level of violence now? And it's not just since the election; it was before the election, as well.

CROCKER: The violence clearly is a concern, but it was also predictable. The Iraqis are tough people. I think they will withstand this. It's not the violence that concerns me so much as simply the tough politics of government formation.

I think Mr. Allawi was optimistic when he said a government could be formed in two months. I think the more realistic deadline is the beginning of Ramadan at the start of August. So I worry about a decision to have us down to 50,000 troops perhaps in the same month that a new government is formed.

AMANPOUR: And that's an extraordinary long time, four months, five months until that day that you just mentioned. I mean, can Iraq actually afford that amount of time in a political vacuum?

CROCKER: Well, first, it's not really a political vacuum. The Maliki cabinet is fully empowered. The command and control of the civilian leadership over the military is there. And we've seen that in their responses to this violence. So I would not characterize it as a vacuum.

Obviously, we would like to see this move quickly, but it is going to be extraordinarily complicated. Everybody will be talking to everybody else. And while Allawi may have 91 votes, he is still 72 votes short of the necessary majority to form a government, so this will not be easy, and it will not be quick.

AMANPOUR: You were there all through the time when Muqtada al-Sadr was not exactly pro-American, still isn't. Does it surprise you, unsettle you that, in fact, this group could become the kingmaker?

CROCKER: I think it's just part of the political progression in Iraq. I don't find it terribly unsettling. The Sadrists have always had an appeal to the dispossessed urban Shia populations, and they finally found a way to get their act together sufficiently to garner a respectable number of seats.

Their militia days seem to be behind them. And they seem to have recognized that, if they're going to have any appeal going forward, it has to be as a political movement, part of a political Iraq.

AMANPOUR: Well, let's talk about -- a little bit about that. Muqtada al- Sadr has been in Iran for the last couple of years. And as you heard Mr. Allawi say, basically Iran has invited all the main winners, except for him, until just recently. What concerns you about Iran's role?

MCGURK: Well, Iran is going to be influential, but they're not going to be decisive. I don't agree with those who say they're decisive. Again, they invited a lot of parties to Tehran for talks. That's going to happen.

Allawi's going to go. The Saudis are going to be there. We're (ph) going to be there.

But it's interesting, though. You know, the Sadrists' appeal is this Sunni-Arab nationalist Iraqi appeal, with strong roots in Iraq, you know, going back hundreds of years. And Muqtada al-Sadr being in Iran has kind of tainted that appeal a little bit.

The Sadrists as a trend is not very threatening to the stability of Iraq. It's the Jaish al-Mahdi and the militia, and I agree with Ambassador Crocker. The militia days seem to be behind us.

One thing that's positive -- you know, we've seen the bombings. We haven't seen the signposts of real deterioration. We haven't seen militias take the streets to protect neighborhoods. We've not seen the ministries stand down, things we started to see in 2006. We haven't seen that yet, and that's so far positive, but we've just got to watch it every day.

AMANPOUR: You know, I'm hearing you both talk about everything that's so positive, and I'm trying to sort of connect the reality with your rhetoric. I know that things got much better after the surge in 2007, but we've all been stunned at the level of violence that has come up before the election and since the election. And just a string of suicide bombings. I mean, appearing to act with the same kind of impunity that they did before the surge.

How is it that you are still so positive about this?

I'm going to ask you, Ambassador Crocker. You seem to be playing down this violence, which is taking so many lives right now.

CROCKER: We have seen, unfortunately, all too many episodes of this in the past. We saw it during my time in Iraq. We've seen it subsequently, as al Qaeda has shifted from attacks on civilian populations to attacks on Iraqi government ministries. Now they seem to be shifting back to attacks on the civilian population.

They are horrific. Clearly, it has to be an imperative for the Iraqis and ourselves to crack these networks and bring the violence down. But what we have seen repeatedly is that the attacks, as bloody and as vicious as they are, have not stopped the political process in Iraq --

AMANPOUR: All right.

CROCKER: -- and we don't expect them to stop it now.

AMANPOUR: OK. We've got about 20 seconds.

They haven't stopped it, but they're certainly hampering it. How does this change?

MCGURK: Well, again, this is why I say we're in a period of very high risk. I think we have to look at our drawdown schedule. We have to make sure the Iraqi government is acting in a caretaker capacity.

People need to know that the state is protecting them. In 2006, the state was not protecting them; they turned to militias. Right now, the state is at least doing a decent job. We just have to make sure that they keep on doing that, but it's going to be very delicate and very, very challenging.

AMANPOUR: Brett McGurk, Ambassador Ryan Crocker, thank you both so much for being here with us.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

AMANPOUR: And coming up, elections and the potential for war in another part of the world the U.S. is so heavily invested in.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

AMANPOUR: When we talk about Sudan, it is usually about Darfur, where the Sudanese government mounted what's been called a genocidal campaign. But Sudan's elections next week bring into focus an even longer and bloodier conflict -- the southern Sudan's fight to win independence from the north.

CNN's David McKenzie takes us there.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is not how Sudan's historic free election was supposed to happen. The Sudan Peoples' Liberation Movement has pulled out of the Northern and Darfur vote just days before the ballot. It has withdrawn its president candidate, Yasser Arman, a Muslim. He was the only serious contender against Omar al-Bashir, president of Sudan, the world's only sitting president indicted on war crimes.

International monitoring groups say his party has engaged in widespread vote-rigging, claims his party denies. The International community has worked hard to make a fair election possible. But analysts say if that fails, the reality could be far worse.

ZACH VERTIN, INTERNATIONAL CRISIS GROUP: If they do not go according to plan, and if peaceful resolution isn't found, then I think it's very possible that we see a return to conflict in Sudan.

MCKENZIE: War raged for two decades in Sudan, pitting Christian and animist rebels in the South against the Muslim North, leaving more than 2 million dead and a fractured nation.

After protracted negotiations, war ended in 2005 with a peace agreement that called for elections and a referendum in the South on whether to split from the North.

At stake, Sudan's massive oil reserves, found mostly in the South, but still controlled by Khartoum. It's a potential boon for the poor nation, and for Western companies if a fair election allows for lifting of sanctions.

But the North-South divide is not the only conflict in the way. A separate deadly conflict in the Darfur region where government-backed Janjaweed militia waging a brutal campaign against African tribes has killed hundreds of thousands.

The U.S. government and International Criminal Court pointed a finger directly at Omar al-Bashir. He has dismissed the allegations and hopes through this election to gain legitimacy at home and abroad.

But people in southern Sudan are already looking past this election, with a referendum on independence, which they hope will end decades of conflict and make them Africa's newest nation.

Dave McKenzie, CNN, Nairobi.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

AMANPOUR: Now, despite all the allegations of vote-rigging and, of course, (AUDIO GAP), the U.S. representative there says that he is, nonetheless, confident of a free and fair election.

So what will happen? What about the fears of new violence in Sudan?

I spoke with the former U.S. assistant secretary of state for African Affairs, Jendayi Frazer, who served under President George W. Bush. And with Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth, who's a senior member of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

AMANPOUR: Let me first turn to you, Mr. Ezekiel Gatkuoth.

You're boycotting the elections. Why are you boycotting? And aren't you afraid of the violence that's going to result?

EZEKIEL LOL GATKUOTH, SUDAN PEOPLE'S LIBERATION MOVEMENT MEMBER: First of all, thank you for having me on the show, Christiane.

The agreement that we have signed in 2005 was actually meant to address two issues. One of them is to actually transform Sudan, because Sudan has a history of marginalization of the marginalized areas, so having this election is very important, and, also, a referendum in 2011, January 9th.

So based on the process that we have gone through in the electoral process, it is very clear that the conditions are not conducive for us to participate in the election in the north. But in the south, we are still having elections --

(CROSSTALK)

AMANPOUR: So what will that mean?

GATKUOTH: It means that, you know, you know very well in Darfur we cannot have elections in Darfur because of the ongoing genocide that is happening in Darfur. And also in the North, it is very clear that the National Congress Party, the party of Omar al-Bashir, is fully in control of the ballots that are printed in the Central Bank of Sudan.

AMANPOUR: Well, that's certainly what the general secretary of your party has said.

Let me turn to Ambassador Frazer.

It was under the Bush administration that the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement was signed, and there was a lot of hope for that. This election has so much at stake for the United States and for U.S. policy. Where do you see it going? And if the SPLM boycotts in the North, is this just going to be a failure?

JENDAYI FRAZER, FORMER ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, as you said, the election is a central piece of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and its implementation. And, as Ezekiel said, with the intention of democratic transformation.

The problem with the election, of course, is it's coming so close to when the referendum will be held in January 2011. In the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, it was presumed that it would come almost midway in this interim period of six years, so it should have happened a good year or two years ago.

But I think that, as happens in Sudan often, they will muddle through. I think it's extremely unfortunate that the Sudan Peoples' Liberation Movement is withdrawing

I am very -- I was very confident that their candidate, Yasser Arman, who I respect tremendously, would have had a chance to give the people of Sudan a choice, so that they wouldn't have to be left with an indicted war criminal in the person of al-Bashir.

So it's really quite unfortunate, from my perspective, that the opposition is essentially opting out and leaving the Sudan people hanging.

AMANPOUR: Well, there, Mr. Ezekiel, that's a fairly tough indictment of what you're just doing right now. You're leaving the people of Sudan hanging.

GATKUOTH: If you look at it, Christiane, we are withdrawing because Bashir, as you know very well, is an indicted man. He wanted to legitimatize himself. By all means, he cannot lose this election. He has to actually do anything that he can to rig this election.

And all the arrangements that have been made already, it's very clear that he has rigged the election, and he wanted to win by all means to legitimatize himself.

AMANPOUR: You know, there just seems to be two competing momentums here. On the one hand, President Bashir wants legitimacy from this election. On the other hand, you seem to be saying, well, this election doesn't matter. What we really want is the referendum, and to secede.

I see you nodding, Ambassador Frazer.

FRAZER: That's right, and I think that that's absolutely the case. The SPLM is basically throwing in the towel in terms of the notion of even contesting in the north. They're essentially saying, we will go and we will have a separate country, and so what we really need to concentrate on is the January 2011 referendum.

And I certainly understand that sentiment. What I fear, though, is that Bashir is not honorable. He goes back on his word. And so the low- intensity conflict that we see today will, in fact, escalate to a full- blown war that we saw -- the 22-year civil war that killed more than two million people, which would be a very dark future for the Sudanese people.

AMANPOUR: So what plans do you have? What agenda do you have, Mr. Gatkuoth, for avoiding a full-scale civil war breaking out, again?

GATKUOTH: It is very important that the referendum is conducted on time, on the 9th of January 2011.

AMANPOUR: Yes, but it might not be.

GATKUOTH: It is very important for us to go and negotiate with the north, with the post-2011 arrangement, the issue of oil, the issue of pipelines. These are the things that we needed to discuss with the north.

We are cooperating with the north to have a peaceful divorce, because it is very clear that the issue of Sudan is not accommodative to many marginalized people, like the (INAUDIBLE) of Sudan is Islamic and Arab country.

AMANPOUR: You were obviously a Bush administration official. What do you see as the success or failure of the Obama administration policy, the increasing offer of carrots, as well as sticks to the Bashir government? Has it produced anything?

FRAZER: Well, no, I think the biggest challenge for the Obama administration is they're divided, and you see very mixed signals coming out from the special envoy versus the secretary. To get them on one page, the president himself has to exercise leadership. The president has to come out and say what he thinks should happen in Sudan.

He needs to pick up the phone and talk to African leaders, so that he can get them onboard with the position that the United States is looking for. And he needs to also exercise his diplomacy in places like China, because probably the United States, China and the African Union will be the critical, critical players in the future of Sudan, besides the Sudanese people and government itself.

AMANPOUR: OK.

And last word to you, Mr. Gatkuoth.

You've just heard Ambassador Frazer question the leadership credentials of the opposition, letting the Sudanese people out, hang out to dry because you don't want to contest those elections. What do you see now for the next foreseeable future between the election and the referendum?

GATKUOTH: Let me just add one thing before I answer that. It is very important for us to avoid the war.

This agreement, the CPA, was an agreement witnessed by the international community, more than 17 countries. The U.N. and everybody was witnessing this. So it is very important for us to have a soft landing in 2011 by having the international community engaged in this, to make sure that we have a peaceful divorce.

The last one is about the opposition. I think it is very important for the oppositions to come together and unite themselves to see a united front. But to be honest with you, in 2011, the world should be ready to have two countries. Sudan is going to disintegrate.

AMANPOUR: Sudan is going to disintegrate?

GATKUOTH: Yes.

AMANPOUR: And that's your final word?

GATKUOTH: I am sure.

AMANPOUR: Ezekiel Gatkuoth, Ambassador Frazer from Washington, thank you so much for joining us.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

AMANPOUR: And next, in our "PostScript," we remember a key event in the breakup of another country, Poland, at the beginning of World War II.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

AMANPOUR: And now our "PostScript."

President Obama was in Central Europe this week signing a new arms control treaty with the Russians. And we remember the tragic disintegration of a European 70 years ago, starting half a century of oppression for Poland, first under the Nazis and then under the Soviet communists.

It is the Katyn forest massacre of 1940, when Soviet secret police killed more than 20,000 Polish officers and other prisoners after Germany and Russia invaded Poland and divided it up.

On the 70th anniversary of the massacre this week, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and his Polish counterpart honored the victims in a ceremony in Katyn, and President Obama met with the Polish leader while he was in Prague.

That's our report for today. Thank you for joining us.

For all of us here, goodbye from New York.

END