Ambassador Lyman and Administrator Shah Discuss Their Recent Trips to Sudan

Posted by DipNote Bloggers
May 18, 2011

Special Envoy to Sudan Princeton Lyman, Ambassador Princeton Lyman, and the USAID Administrator Raj Shah discussed their respective recent trips to Sudan and U.S. engagement in the region, at the Department of State on May 18, 2011.

Ambassador Lyman said, "I was in the region just a couple weeks ago, stopping in Doha for the Darfur peace talks, a day in Khartoum, then down to South Cordovan where there was -- that was on the first day of the election there, and I'll come back to that -- and then to Darfur and then to Juba.

"The issues that are very much on our mind are the following: the Darfur situation, where we are hoping that at Doha, where negotiations have gone on for some time, that there can be an agreement between the government and at least two of the rebel groups. Others have also been invited to Doha. My colleague Dane Smith, who works full-time on Darfur, has been spending a great deal of time in Doha with one of his staff to bolster that negotiating process. It's a hard process, but at least the parties are talking.

"I spent some time in Khartoum talking with people there about the progress under the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, and then went to South Cordovan because they've just had in that time -- it was the first day of elections -- an election for governor and state legislature. It's a very critical state because it borders on Abyei, it borders on Darfur, it is also supposed to be where one of the processes of popular consultations are to take place. It's a state where a lot of the civil war was fought, but it's in the North.

"Since then, the election has come off, but there is now a dispute over the results. The National Electoral Commission has declared the NCP candidate, the governor, to have been reelected, and the SPLM candidate has raised a number of what they feel are irregularities. We have encouraged them to follow the process established, which is to go to the courts with these complaints, and we've urged all parties to stay calm, and so far everybody has stayed calm. But this has continued to be a very tense situation.

"In Darfur, I was looking at recent displacements in the Zam Zam camp, talking to UNAMID about questions of access, talking to internally displaced people, getting a sense of the security situation and the possibilities for better access and better programs there, and then went to Juba, where there was, at that point, and still is to some extent, a crisis in Abyei. Abyei is a region that is in dispute between the North and the South. It's now in the North. Part of the CPA, there was to be a referendum or other way to resolve the issue of whether Abyei should be in the North or the South. That has not been resolved.

"There was a clash on May 1st in which 11 members of the Joint Integrated Unit -- that's a military unit -- were killed, and it looked like the two sides were almost ready to go to war. Together with the UN and the AU, we worked very hard to get the parties to go back to an agreement they had signed but not implemented called the Kadugli agreement, whereby both sides withdraw the extra forces that they've brought into Abyei. Meetings are going on to establish a clear timeline for that withdrawal, it unfortunately hasn't started yet. But we hope that agreement will be implemented and reduce the tension in the state while we continue to work on a overall solution for Abyei.

"Final thing I would mention is that the parties, after something of a hiatus, are back negotiating issues under the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. They start tomorrow, in Ethiopia, to look at the most difficult and important economic issues, and that will be followed by political talks to take on the other issues. So that process is now resumed and underway, and we'll be following it very, very closely."

Administrator Shah followed Ambassador Lyman's remarks. He said, "I want to start just by thanking Ambassador Lyman for his strong leadership on all of these complex and important Sudan issues, and recognizing that the United States has played such a critical role in implementing the CPA and pursuing effective implantation of that.

"I had the opportunity to travel to Sudan, both to Juba and to Khartoum, with my counterpart development ministers from the United Kingdom, Andrew Mitchell, and from Norway, Erik Solheim. And the purpose of our trip and the decision to go together was to send, really, a united and coordinated message and to have a development dialogue in both the North and the South that was well organized and consistent across some of the major development partners for South Sudan and for Sudan.

"In Juba, we had the chance to visit with President Kiir, the cabinet, various members of civil society, and the private sector. And our messages were pretty consistent across those groups. We, first and foremost, reaffirmed the importance of the CPA in continuing to make progress on a range of issues that Ambassador Lyman just described. But we spent most of our time talking about the development strategy for the South, and what it would take to help Southern Sudan become a successful and viable economy with real private investment and transparent and effective governance. We underscored that private sector growth and transparent, credible governance that allowed for businesses to work in Southern Sudan would be critical to the efforts to diversify the economy and meet population needs.

"We noted that USAID, partnering with others like the World Bank, have helped Southern Sudan improve its performance on the Doing Business Report significantly. And we heard from a range of private sector partners about how conditions had improved so that now they were seriously investing in various sectors in Juba and in Southern Sudan.

"We focused on agriculture and we had the chance to announce a major new partnership with the Government of Southern Sudan and with a range of important partners, such as the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, the International Fertilizer Development Corporation, Equity Bank, and others to make sure that a focus on smallholder farming and smallholder agriculture would, in fact, allow for a more diversified and productive Southern Sudanese economy and begin the process of creating real food security in the South. And we've worked with the World Food Program to also design programs and projects that would help towards that end. That project was jointly launched with Minister Anne Ito from the Ministry of Agriculture in Southern Sudan, and we're very optimistic about what that will result in, in the near future.

"Our conversations with the government there also highlighted the need to fight corruption and to put in place transparency initiatives with respect to how oil revenues are spent. Our Norwegian counterparts, having had unique experience with that issue, have offered to take the lead in partnering with the government in pursuing that objective.

"We also wanted to send a strong, coordinated message that too often development assistance is not well coordinated and well organized, and everybody tries to do everything. In the South, we suggested that the United States will take the lead in donor coordination, especially across the UK, Norway, and U.S. programs. That doesn't mean the U.S. will lead in every sector and every area of work. It simply means that we will work in a more coordinated way with our counterparts from the UK and Norway to make sure there's a real division of labor and a consistent way of working with the Government of Southern Sudan and against the government's own plans and strategies going forward.

"And finally, we offered to host in September -- and President Kiir accepted this offer -- a major development and private investors conference here in Washington, where we would offer our Southern Sudanese counterparts the opportunity to come and present their own plan and their own vision for a diversified economy, a well-governed Southern Sudan, and the ability to attract real private investment. And we expect that a broad range of donor partners, the world multilateral institutions, and private partners and private companies will participate in that important meeting.

"In the north, we had a continued dialogue on development issues, and we continue to work with the UK and Norway on issues like debt relief and exploring what that might look like in the future. The Norwegians have offered to host an investor conference for the north, and we certainly support that effort. Most of our conversations in Khartoum from a USAID perspective focused on Darfur, and as Ambassador Lyman mentioned, we highlighted some of the critical challenges for access and safety for humanitarian workers right now, and asked for real progress in that area of work.

"We also asked for a real partnership to accelerate recovery efforts where safety and security is strong enough to allow for more diversified programming, and to allow for people to move out of camps and into local communities in a way that is safe and productive. And we worked with our range of implementing partners and NGOs to learn about some of the issues they're having, and also some of their, really, enterprising efforts to try to diversify their programming to allow for voluntary resettlement where that's possible.

"Overall, for me this was my second trip following a trip that I made perhaps 10 months ago or so, and I came away very optimistic, especially with commitments that the southern Sudanese have made to transparent governance, to having an integrated development strategy, to working with donor partners and development partners in a coordinated way, and with a real desire to attract private investment as the core driver of wealth and wealth creation and employment in their economy. So, we'll look forward to working with Ambassador Lyman, with the Department of State, and with our partners in Sudan to achieve those outcomes."

You can read Ambassador Lyman's and Administrator Shah's complete remarks here.

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