Tensions remain high in the Abyei region of Sudan, and the United States has called on Sudanese leaders to do everything possible to prevent further violence and restore calm. On March 9, the White House condemned the fighting in Abyei and noted that the presence of Northern and Southern forces in the region is unacceptable.
President Barack Obama asked Sudanese leaders at a meeting at the United Nations last September to choose the path of peace. If they made good on their commitments, he said, the relationship with the U.S. and international community would improve. If they chose conflict, Sudan would face more painful isolation.
Reaching agreement on Abyei's future status remains one of the most difficult decisions before Sudan's leaders. The U.S. has called on Sudan's President Bashir and First Vice President Kiir to meet immediately to show they are serious about working toward a solution that addresses the needs of all communities in Abyei. They must reach agreement on whether the region will remain in the North or join the South.
The U.S. also has urged local and national leaders to follow through on the agreements they made earlier this year to withdraw forces that shouldn't be in Abyei and allow cattle herders there to migrate peacefully. The parties also must live up to their commitment to ensure the United Nations Mission to Sudan has the access it needs to assess the security situation and to protect civilians.
Ambassador Princeton Lyman, the U.S. advisor for the North-South negotiations, is in Sudan now to help the parties as they discuss these and other matters. Much remains to be done to ensure peaceful relations between the North and South as the South prepares to become independent. The U.S. encourages Northern and Southern leaders to continue the cooperation that allowed the referendum to take place and is critical as they work to build a peaceful, secure and more prosperous future for all Sudanese.