US envoy to Sudan reiterates US commitment to a timely referendum in Southern Sudan

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US President Barack Obam meets with Scott Gration, his envoy for Sudan, in the Oval Office on April 23, 2009

 

(Washington DC NSV) - President Obama’s envoy to Sudan, Major General Scott Gration presented a briefing on his activities in Sudan to a gathering of Southern Sudanese in Washington last weekend. He outlined the scope of his responsibilities, which includes the support to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, pursuing a settlement of the conflict in Darfur and ensuring that Sudan is not a haven for terrorist groups and their sympathizers as part of an overall US counter-terrorism effort across the world.

 

Gration forcefully defended his previous stance against opposition calls for postponing the election by pointing out the repercussions to the future timely conduct of the referenda in Southern Sudan and Abyei. He reiterated his adamant commitment to the CPA timeline, even as he acknowledges the serious challenges ahead for the partners to the agreement.

 

He said that the elections were clearly below standards and no one entering into that process should have been surprised by the outcome or the identity of the winner.

 

In response toa question from theaudience, he said thatthe election process wasnot perfect in the South too, and that the SPLMwillhave tofind a way to heal thewounds precipitated by some of these acts that affected the credibility of the elections in some states of the region.

 

He also elaborated on the need for the government of Southern Sudan and the people of the region to find a way to close ranks in the upcoming phase, and asserted that such cohesiveness is essential for the South not to emerge as a failed state if that is the outcome of the vote. He also stressed that while the ultimate decision rests with the people of the region, his government and the rest of the Troika will vigorously work to provide assistance in the interim.

The post-referendum arrangements were a recurring theme in his briefing, alluding more than once to the need for agreements with the North on the borders, oil, citizenship rights and other outstanding issues before the projected plebiscite in January, 2011.

 

He mentioned efforts underway to bring Russia on board as a cooperative partner to the US in addressing the challenges of consolidating peace in Sudan. The role of China was also important because of its commercial interest in the oil sector in Sudan, according to the Envoy, and he said that discussions are always on-going with the Chinese to keep them abreast of developments in his mediation efforts and to solicit their constructive engagement on that front.

 

 

He also said that the immediate region and the whole of Africa have an instrumental and critical role in the overall success of the peace process in Sudan, and that he continues to dialogue with neighboring governments to ensure their cooperation is forthcoming and their concerns for regional stability are addressed.


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