The Sudanese government has promised that it will continue participating in negotiations led by the African Union on outstanding issues in the peace process after southern Sudan’s secession.
Rice told reporters at the State Department on Thursday that if Abyei and the other issues weren’t resolved soon, it could “swiftly destabilize the future relationship between these two states. So for our part, the United States will continue to be extremely active in supporting the implementation” of the peace accord.
Crisis in the Nuba Mountains: Rebecca Hamilton, Special to The Washington Post, discusses the violence targeted against the Nuba people of South Kordofan. Hamilton's Sudan reporting is supported by funding from the Pulitzer Center: http://pulitzercenter.org/projects/africa/sudan-transition.
Timeline and map: The world’s newest nation
The 2005 peace accord ended a grinding war between the largely Arab, Islamic northerners and the southerners, who are mainly Christian and animist and had long complained of discrimination. The plan provided for limited autonomy for the south until a January referendum on secession.
Over the years, an influential coalition of U.S. lawmakers, religious groups and grass-roots organizations has coalesced around ending the north-south war and the fighting in Darfur, where more than 300,000 people died as militias backed by Sudan’s ruling party brutally put down a rebellion. Bashir was subsequently charged with genocide by the International Criminal Court.
Obama was initially accused by activists of neglecting Sudan. But over the past year he has intensified his efforts, as the peace accord appeared in danger of collapse. He attended a special U.N. meeting on Sudan, pressed world leaders to support the peace process and sent Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, to offer a “road map” of incentives to Bashir’s government. They included delisting it as a state sponsor of terrorism, establishing full diplomatic relations and lifting economic sanctions that were imposed by President Bill Clinton. But implementation of the road map has been stalled by the recent violence.
The U.S. government has also provided hundreds of millions of dollars in development aid to southern Sudan.
South Sudan will be Africa’s first new country since Eritrea became independent in 1993. Shattered by decades of war, it will begin its life as one of the world’s poorest nations, with huge numbers of villages lacking schools, clean water or sanitation. Half of all positions in its ministries remain unfilled, said Gerry Martone of the International Rescue Committee. More than 80 percent of health-care services are provided by foreign aid groups, according to the committee.
Hamilton is a special correspondent.