Special Envoy Princeton Lyman Addresses the Situation in Sudan

Posted by DipNote Bloggers
July 1, 2011

More:Special Envoy for Sudan Princeton Lyman Convokes Washington Diplomatic Corps in Support of North-South Peace

Ambassador Princeton Lyman, U.S. Special Envoy for Sudan, addressed the current situation in Sudan during a press briefing in Washington, D.C., on July 1, 2011. Ambassador Lyman said:

"Let me just bring you up to date on where we are and what's going to happen in the next nine days.

"Let me go back a little bit because I think it's important to put it in perspective. If you go back to last summer when there was a great deal of concern about the peace process in Sudan and whether it was in danger between the North and the South and the then-still pending referendum on whether the South would secede, you'll recall the President went to the UN and led, in a meeting of heads of state, about the process in bringing a lot of international attention to that, and a lot of work subsequent to that that resulted in the referendum coming off on January 9th peacefully and effectively and recognized by the Government of Sudan that the South was in fact going to become independent.

"Since then, a lot of the issues that have to be negotiated between the two -- the negotiations have been up and down, and frankly, got thrown off badly by fighting that erupted in two areas -- Abyei and the state of Southern Kordofan. And much of the last several weeks has been spent by the White House, by the Secretary, by myself and others on bringing those situations back under control. And at least Abyei is now under control and an agreement on the withdrawal of forces has been reached, and the Ethiopians are going to be reinforcing the UN in Abyei. On Southern Kordofan, there is a political framework agreement, but work is still going on on the cessation of hostilities, and we continue to press very hard for more humanitarian access to the people who've been displaced.

"Having said that, I think that, in fact, we are going to see on July 9th a effective celebratory event in Juba when the South becomes officially independent. And we just heard the other day from the foreign minister in -- from Khartoum saying once again the -- that Khartoum will be the first country to recognize the South's independence and to establish diplomatic presence there.

"So I think that is still fundamentally on track, but there are a number of issues they did not resolve in time and which still are out there. Those include two major issues, and that is the degree to which there will be a tapering off rather than a sudden stopping of the oil revenue shared between the South and the North, and the permanent status of Abyei. I don't think those will be resolved fully by July 9th for reasons having to do in part by the need to withdraw the Sudanese troops from Abyei. But it is important that the two agree that there will not be an interruption in the oil sector, and that there will be a firm timetable for resolving those two big issues.

"We do think it's very important that assurances be given by July 9th to the more than one million Southerners living in the North that they will not be stateless, that their situation will not be abruptly put in threat, and that they won't trigger any kind of panic. And we need to see those assurances by July 9th. We also want to see by then the firming up of an agreement they've just reached on demilitarizing the border, and as I mentioned, to get a cessation of the fighting in Southern Kordofan. Those are some of the critical things that they need to do between now and July 9th, and then to finish up in July the remaining issues.

"I think this can all happen, but it's going to take a lot of work. It's going to take a lot of courageous decision-making. The international community has been mobilized and it's become very active in these last few days. I met with the diplomatic community here this morning when we discussed this. I am leaving tomorrow for Addis Ababa where Prime Minister Meles of Ethiopia is convening a summit of IGAD -- that's the East African heads of state -- and Thabo Mbeki, who leads the negotiations on North-South issues will be there. And we expect more progress on these matters to be made in the coming week, and then I'll go on from there to Juba.

"So that's where we are in the situation. I think it's -- there are still a lot of problems out there, but I think it's come a long way. I do think July 9th is going to come off in the way it should as bringing to an end decades of civil war between the North and the South."

You can read the full transcript of the briefing here.



Khalid A.
July 6, 2011

Khalid writes:

A fair summary of the situation.There are challenges;but the worst-which many feard and some seem to have anticipated-was avoided. Good to see Ambassador Lyman noting the Sudanese Minister of Foreign Affairs' promise that the mother country will be the first to recognise the new Southern Sudanese state.President Bashir had declared that on the 4th of January in Juba. President Obama has made an auspicious contribution describing the success of the referendum as "an inspiration "to the world. Positive US commitment will be crucial in the future too, especially in the South;with capacity building, continued support for the transformation of SPLA into a regular disciplined army,the redeployment,retraining and return of former combatants to civilian life.The North will need debt relief and removal from the terror sponsors list.
By supporting the Arab Spring in Tunisia ,Egypt and elsewhere, the US is placing itself "on the right side of history".Ambassador Lyman is well placed and qualified to build on his predecessor's work and help the two Sudans through this sensitive turning point.


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