Sudan: "This Critical Time"

Posted by Scott Gration
December 17, 2009

About the Author: Major General (Ret) Scott Gration serves as the President’s Special Envoy to Sudan.

I left on December 12th on my last trip of the year. My first stop was Sudan, where I have spent time in both Khartoum and Juba. On Thursday and Friday I will be in Stuttgart, Germany and Brussels, Belgium to hold discussions with our AFRICOM team and EU partners.

It was important to make a trip to Sudan at this critical time. Like many of you, I was deeply concerned about the use of violence against and detention of protestors on December 7. The United States government condemned these acts, and we called on all parties to exercise restraint and enter into a dialogue to resolve their differences.

Despite the setback of this violence, the National Congress Party (NCP) and Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) met over the weekend and reached agreement on three major pieces of legislation that are critical for full implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) -- the Southern Sudan Referendum Act, the Abyei Referendum Act, and the Popular Consultations Act. This agreement was the culmination of months of negotiations that stretched through each of my last six visits to Sudan. The parties should be commended for demonstrating the necessary political will and leadership to get the deal done. These three bills will be introduced in the National Assembly this week and will likely be passed in the coming days. When implemented, they will set the stage for three landmark CPA processes -- the referenda on self-determination for Southern Sudan and the Abyei region, the popular consultations for citizens of Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile, and wealth-sharing arrangements with the central government.

The parties are continuing discussions to resolve the remaining CPA issues, and the United States will continue to encourage the parties to reach agreement and live up to their commitment to fully implement the CPA.

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