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Keeping Attention On Sudan

Peace and stability remain elusive in Sudan, despite an agreement 4 years ago to end a 22-year civil war. Tensions are high between Sudan’s northern and southern regions over resources, boundaries and Southern autonomy, and the humanitarian crisis in Darfur respects no border.

With national elections set for later this year, more attention from Sudanese leaders and the international community will be needed to face the challenges ahead.

Raging from 1983 until 2005, Sudan’s North-South war claimed more than 2.5 million lives. The Comprehensive Peace Agreement, or CPA, brokered with the help of the United States and signed in Kenya on January 9, 2005, paves the way for a popular vote on Southern Sudan independence in 2011, self-government for the South during a 6-year transitional period, and a protocol for the equal sharing of Southern Sudan oil revenues between that region and the national government in Khartoum.

But in the past year, disputes over Southern political rights and division of profits from the oil-rich town of Abyei, which straddles the North-South border, produced new fighting and resulted in fresh displacements, fueling another humanitarian crisis in Sudan.

In a meeting this week with Government of Southern Sudan President and Government of National Unity First Vice President Salva Kiir Mayardit, President George Bush said that now and in the months ahead it will be important for the U.S. to continue promoting implementation of the CPA. He also praised President Kiir for working to bring opposition factions in Darfur together so they can be a more unified voice in negotiating a peace with Khartoum for that troubled region.

To help address the crisis in Darfur, President Bush authorized the U.S. State Department to begin airlifting 240 containers worth of heavy equipment for the United Nations/African Union Mission in Darfur, or UNAMID. The President waived the 15-day congressional notification requirements to allow the airlift assistance to proceed immediately, as failing to do so would pose a substantial risk to human health and welfare.

The U.S. provision of airlift will deliver equipment and vehicles that are critical to UNAMID deployment and will thus help UNAMID directly protect civilian lives and improve the safe and effective delivery of lifesaving humanitarian aid to areas of west Darfur currently inaccessible due to security concerns.