Speaking to heads of state and Sudanese leaders at United Nations headquarters in New York today, President Obama discussed the responsibility of all parties to fully implement the peace agreement that ended Sudan's civil war, called for accountability for crimes, and directly addressed the people of Sudan about how the United States would support those who work for peace.
President Obama said, "At this moment, the fate of millions of people hangs in the balance. What happens in Sudan in the days ahead may decide whether a people who have endured too much war move forward towards peace or slip backwards into bloodshed. And what happens in Sudan matters to all of sub-Saharan Africa, and it matters to the world."
The President continued, "I want to thank Vice President Taha and First Vice President Kiir for being here. To my fellow leaders from Africa, the Middle East, Europe and Asia -- your presence sends an unmistakable message to the Sudanese people and to their leaders that we stand united. The Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended the civil war must be fully implemented. The referenda on self-determination scheduled for January 9th must take place -- peacefully and on time, the will of the people of South Sudan and the region of Abyei must be respected, regardless of the outcome.
"We are here because the leaders of Sudan face a choice. It's not the choice of how to move forward to give the people of Sudan the peace they deserve. We already know what needs to be done. The choice is for Sudanese leaders -- whether they will have the courage to walk the path. And the decision cannot be delayed any longer.
"Despite some recent progress, preparations for the referenda are still behind schedule. Now, the vote is only a little more than a hundred days away. And tragically, as has already been referred to, a recent spike in violence in Darfur has cost the lives of hundreds of more people.
"So the stakes are enormous. We all know the terrible price paid by the Sudanese people the last time north and south were engulfed in war: some two million people killed. Two million people. Millions more left homeless; millions displaced to refugee camps, threatening to destabilize the entire region. Separately, in Darfur, the deaths of hundreds of thousands shocked the conscience of the world. This is the awful legacy of conflict in Sudan -- the past that must not become Sudan's future."
Read the President's full remarks here.