Southern Sudan becomes the world's newest independent nation this weekend, six years after an historic peace agreement worked to end decades of civil war. Although much progress has been made resolving lingering issues and uncertainties as Southern Sudan and Sudan prepare to go their separate ways, many key issues pertaining to the peace agreement remain to be settled. This will pose major challenges to both countries in the months ahead.
Ambassador Princeton Lyman is the U.S. Special Envoy for Sudan appointed by President Obama:
"There are a number of issues they did not resolve in time and which still are out there. Those include two major issues, and that is the degree to which there will be a tapering off rather than a sudden stopping of the oil revenue shared between the South and the North, and the permanent status of Abyei....It is important that the two agree that there will not be an interruption in the oil sector, and that there will be a firm timetable for resolving those two big issues."
Sudan's leaders met in Addis Ababa on July 4th at a special meeting of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development. President Bashir and First Vice President Kiir committed to continue negotiations on the outstanding matters following the July 9th independence ceremonies. The United States again urges all parties to work quickly and expeditiously to resolve these issues. Leaving them unresolved risks undermining the diplomacy and hard work done so far, and threatens prospects for a positive and cooperative future relationship between these two neighbors.
Special Envoy Lyman believes these issues can be resolved, but it will take a lot of work and courageous decision making.
"I think both sides really feel that a return to general war would be disastrous for both of them. That doesn’t mean that, like we saw in Abyei and we’re seeing in Southern Kordofan, that military clashes might not occur because they haven’t either resolved an issuee or emotions get carried to extreme....But I really think, from all the conversations I’ve had, that neither side wants or intends to go back to general war."
The United States is confident that with continued progress and support from the international community, Southern Sudan will transition peacefully to independence.