January's peaceful vote on independence for the people of Southern Sudan was an important step in bringing peace and stability to a much troubled region, marking a key achievement of the 2005 peace accord that ended Africa's longest civil war. With leaders there now working to resolve other outstanding issues in the peace process, it also raised hopes that that further progress in the troubled region is possible.
That work will be a step-by-step process, in which Sudan takes further actions to resolve the North-South conflict by agreeing on a way forward for the Abyei region, resource sharing, demarcating a common border and establishing criteria for citizenship. Ending the fighting in Darfur is also a concern of the U.S., as well as many others in the international community.
The United States is fully committed to aiding the parties in the process, as it was involved in promoting the independence referendum. To that end, a new special envoy, U.S. Ambassador Princeton Lyman, has been named for Sudan. His experience representing our country in South Africa during that nation's transition from apartheid to democracy will prove invaluable in the coming months. Having mediated talks between the North and South in the weeks leading to the referendum, he is well versed on the challenges still facing the region and can ably advise the Sudanese people at this critical juncture.
The peaceful separation of these two states will be difficult, but there is a clear path to a stronger, more stable and peaceful future.