So much for hopes that Feingold would run for office any time soon…
Via the U.S. State Department site, the press briefing announcement regarding Russ Feingold as the new Great Lakes Special Representative:
…I wanted to be able to focus personally on an important addition to our team here at the State Department; an individual who is going to provide, I believe, a very important focus on a long-troubled region.
As everybody here knows, the suffering in the Great Lakes region of Africa and the ongoing crisis in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo continues to trouble all of us greatly. We are convinced that we have to help the parties find a path to a lasting peace, to a permanent cessation of hostilities, and to the disarmament and demobilization of M23, accountability for human rights abuses, and finally, a breaking down of the barriers that are standing between humanitarian aid and the civilians who need it.
For the President and for me, this is a high-level priority and it needs to be met with high-level leadership. And that’s why today, I’m pleased to announce the appointment of my former colleague in the United States Senate, Russ Feingold, as the new United States Special Representative for the African Great Lakes region and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Russ and I served together in the Senate for some 18 years. I have a lot of respect for a lot of qualities of Russ – his intellect, his courage, his passion – but with respect to this mission, chief among those qualities that are important right now is his expertise on Africa. In the Senate, when Russ Feingold addressed the issues of Africa, the Senate listened. He chaired the Africa subcommittee when I was chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, and I think my predecessor as chairman, the Vice President Joe Biden, would agree with me that Russ Feingold was the Senate’s leading advocate and expert on Africa. I’m very grateful that he has agreed to come back to government and to apply the expertise that he gained those years for the Obama Administration and for the State Department.
Russ will be coordinating with me and with the Bureau of African Affairs to shape our strategy on the many challenges in the region – cross-border security; political, economic, and social assistance issues; and many other issues. I mentioned some of them earlier – M23, the violence, the need to build confidence and capacity in the region. He will also work very closely with the United Nations Special Envoy to the Great Lakes region, Mary Robinson, and he will work specifically to ensure the prompt and full implementation of the UN’s Peace, Security, and Cooperation Framework.