Anchor Lisa Mullins speaks with the Rev. Franklin Graham, son of the evangelical Christian leader Billy Graham. Franklin Graham says Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir shouldn't be removed from power. Graham spoke with Bashir earlier today.
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LISA MULLINS: Darfur is not the only conflict in Sudan. Prior to Darfur, rebels in Sudan's south fought a long and bitter war against the government up in the north. That ended in a peace agreement in 2005. Religion played a role in that conflict. Most of Sudan's population in the south is Christian, while the government in Khartoum is largely Muslim. Yet some prominent American Christian evangelical leaders are rallying behind Sudan's President Bashir. Franklin Graham heads the Christian humanitarian group Samaritan's Purse. He's the son of the evangelical leader Billy Graham. Franklin Graham is currently in southern Sudan. And he met with Sudan's President Bashir earlier today.
FRANKLIN GRAHAM: I encouraged him, regardless of what the warrant would say, that he would stay committed to the peace process.
MULLINS: And what kind of assurance did he give you?
GRAHAM: I met with him now -- this is my third time. He is somebody that will certainly listen to what you have to say. The point is, you just have to keep going back to him, and we certainly need the United States, we need â€“ President Obama needs to be engaged in this process. I hope that he'll assign an envoy to Darfur, because if we don't have diplomatic involvement, this whole thing could unravel.
MULLINS: I just want to ask you something else about your own encounters with President Bashir. This is a man who, as you have noted including in your op-ed piece in the New York Times, has done some sickening things and who continues to at least preside over some brutality against his own people. When you were speaking with him, what gives you any kind of hope number one, if he is not arrested by the International Criminal Court, that he will see that peace will happen in the region; but number two, what gives you reason to believe what he tells you at all, even if you have individual incidents of times where he has been cooperative?
GRAHAM: You have to understand. If President Bashir were replaced, who would replace him? There are a lot of bad people in this world and there are a lot of bad people that are leaders today. But you have to deal with those that are in authority and those that are in power. We do have a door open to Bashir. He does want America involved â€“ he told me that today. There have been some great gains that have been made for peace in the last two years, and we just can't afford to let this thing go backwards.
MULLINS: And for the people such as Desmond Tutu, who issued also an op-ed piece in the New York Times yesterday, who says, â€œLook. Without justice there will be no peace. And this arrest warrant is one way to achieve justice,â€ you say what?
GRAHAM: I appreciate what Desmond Tutu â€“ I have the highest respect for this man. But I'm here on the ground and he's not. We have people working here. I have staff here, and I have seen tremendous gains in the last two years.
MULLINS: Since you have been â€“ as you said, you have been in Sudan doing relief work there for 16 years now. You have seen the kinds of atrocities that have taken place. When you meet with Sudan's president who has presided over all this violence, I wonder what it's like to sit in front of him and talk with him, in a reasonable way, and deal with this man who is considered a war criminal?
GRAHAM: It's difficult to sit there and talk to a man that you know that has bombed your hospital. No one's going to come to Sudan and arrest Bashir. And I think that's the reality of it. Who's going to come down here and lead him off in handcuffs? It's just not going to happen.
MULLINS: Franklin Graham heads the relief group Samaritan's Purse. He also the President of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. He's in the town of Yei in southern Sudan. Very good of you to speak with us. Thank you.