Let me join others in thanking Under Secretary-General Le Roy, Chairman Mkapa, Minister Siddiq, and Secretary General Amum for your participation today.
In recent months, this Council has shown unprecedented unity in supporting the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. The international community and the members of this Council must continue to speak with one voice on Sudan—or risk creating opportunities for spoilers.
With the support of the United Nations and the international community, the referendum registration process has concluded peacefully and credibly. A successful referendum for Southern Sudan on January 9 is critical to long-term peace and stability in Sudan and registration was an important step toward that goal. Effective completion of registration in Sudan indicates that polling can and must be concluded on schedule.
As we have been reminded today, the status of Abyei remains unresolved. The Chair of the African Union’s High-Level Implementation Panel, President Mbeki, has been working actively with the CPA parties to find a way forward on this important issue. The United States fully supports his efforts. Any resolution regarding the future of the Abyei area must respect the legally affirmed rights of the people of that region and it must be reached with the consent of both parties. We also face additional upcoming challenges, including the effective conduct of the Southern Sudan referendum itself. We urge both sides to ensure a transparent, safe, and unobstructed environment for campaigning and polling.
We urge the Government of Sudan and the Government of South Sudan to honor their financial commitments to the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission and the Southern Sudan Referendum Bureau as quickly as possible. This funding is essential to the conduct of the referendum.
The parties must also settle other outstanding CPA issues, such as border demarcation and the conduct of Popular Consultations for Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile. They must reach agreement on post-CPA issues, including citizenship and the security of minorities and vulnerable populations, such as Northerners in the South and Southerners in the North. On the critical issue of citizenship, the United States strongly urges the parties to reach an agreement that is in line with applicable international obligations and does not arbitrarily deprive any individual of citizenship.
Let me commend the UN for its efforts as it helps the CPA parties implement the referendum, including by procuring and distributing ballots. We call on the parties to the CPA to cooperate with the UN Mission in Sudan and facilitate full and unfettered freedom of access and movement for all United Nations peacekeepers.
Unfortunately, however, this briefing, this meeting, comes at a critical time—one that has been marred by troubling violence. The United States strongly condemns the Government of Sudan’s actions in Khor Abeche, South Darfur. We have heard deeply disturbing reports of Sudanese Armed Forces blocking the movement of civilians, then looting and burning the village. These reports deserve the Council’s serious attention and effective responses by UNAMID.
The U.S. wishes to remind all parties, as well as UNAMID and UN Headquarters, that UNAMID’s Chapter VII mandate authorizes it to carry out its mandated responsibilities, with or without the permission of the Government of Sudan. As we invest billions of dollars and risk peacekeeper’s lives, we expect no less.
It is more important than ever that all parties avoid inflammatory words and actions that undermine peace and stability and violate international law. In particular, the United States calls on the Government of Sudan to immediately halt aerial bombardments. We condemn the November 12, November 24, and December 6 bombardments into the Kiir River Valley, which resulted in the displacement of at least 1,000 people.
We again call on the Government of Sudan to end the arrest and harassment of human rights activists and journalists, and to release those who have been imprisoned unjustly, including those jailed for exercising such basic rights as freedom of speech, freedom of expression, and freedom of assembly.
Darfur remains a top priority for the United States. This is reflected in the recent appointment of Ambassador Dane Smith as our Senior Advisor on Darfur. We remain seriously concerned by the violence and humanitarian needs in Darfur, as well as the lack of accountability. At the same times, all states must redouble their efforts to stem the flow of arms into Darfur and faithfully implement the UN sanctions regime.
The United States remains deeply committed to a brighter future for all the people of Sudan. As President Obama noted at the UN in September, “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 backward into bloodshed. What happens in Sudan matters to all of sub-Saharan Africa, and it matters to the world.”
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