• January 10, 2011
  • From Congress
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President Obama’s Statements about the Sudan Referendum

Over the weekend, President Obama wrote an op-ed in The New York Times and released a statement about this week’s historic referendum vote in Sudan in which the South Sudanese people are expected to choose independence from Sudan. All of us at Resolve are watching this referendum closely in the hopes that the vote and beginnings of this new nation occur as peacefully as possible.

As President Obama said in The New York Times: “Over the next week, millions of southern Sudanese will vote on whether to remain part of Sudan or to form their own independent nation. This process — and the actions of Sudanese leaders — will help determine whether people who have known so much suffering will move toward peace and prosperity, or slide backward into bloodshed. It will have consequences not only for Sudan, but also for sub-Saharan Africa and the world.”

We are also watching this vote closely in the hopes that we don’t hear news about the LRA. The Sudan government, based in Khartoum in the northern part of Sudan, armed and supplied the LRA between 1994 and 2002 (some say 2005), using it as a proxy force to disrupt Southern Sudan. Recently, reports have surfaced that LRA commanders have traveled to South Darfur and met with Sudanese army officials to rekindle this alliance. Many people in Southern Sudan fear that Khartoum could use the LRA to disrupt the vote or the fragile post-referendum period.  When President Obama wrote, “Under no circumstance should any side use proxy forces in an effort to gain an advantage while we wait for the final results,” we hope that is understood as a warning to Khartoum to stay away from the LRA.

As President Obama states, “The world will be watching in the coming days, and the United States will remain fully committed to helping the parties solve critical post-referendum issues regardless of the outcome of the vote.”

We hope so.

Here’s President Obama’s statement:

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
January 9, 2011

Statement by the President on Sudan

I am extremely pleased that polling has started for the Southern Sudan Referendum, and congratulate the people of Southern Sudan who are determining their own destiny. This is an historic step in the years-long process to fully implement the Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended the civil war between north and south. The international community is united and determined to ensure that all parties in Sudan live up to their obligations. We know that there are those who may try to disrupt the voting. Voters must be allowed access to polling stations, and must be able to cast their ballots free from intimidation and coercion. All sides should refrain from inflammatory rhetoric or provocative actions that could raise tensions or prevent voters from expressing their will. Violence in the Abyei region should cease. And while a successful vote will be cause for celebration, an enormous amount of work remains to ensure the people of Sudan can live with security and dignity. The world will be watching in the coming days, and the United States will remain fully committed to helping the parties solve critical post-referendum issues regardless of the outcome of the vote.

— Paul

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