The celebrations were muted July 9 as South Sudan celebrated its third anniversary of independence. Three years ago, after decades of civil war, the South Sudanese people voted to split away from the North, and amid high hopes and much jubilation the world’s newest nation was born on July 9, 2011.
The cheer has turned to gloom in many parts of the East African nation, as political infighting erupted in December. The conflict, now in its seventh month, has cost thousands of lives and displaced over a million people. Despite repeated attempts to bring the parties to the bargaining table to negotiate a transitional government and end the crisis, foot-dragging by both the government of South Sudan and the rebel faction headed by former Vice President Riek Machar continue to undermine the process led by the regional bloc Intergovernmental Authority on Development, or IGAD.
Too much blood has been spilled, and too many lives lost, to allow South Sudan’s moment of hope and opportunity to slip from its grasp.
Too much blood has been spilled, and too many lives lost, to allow South Sudan’s moment of hope and opportunity to slip from its grasp. With the memories of July 9, 2011 fresh in mind, now is the time to honor fully the Cessation of Hostilities agreement of January 23 to end the violence, especially which targets civilians.
The people of South Sudan need their leaders to use the IGAD peace process to end the conflict and establish a transitional government that can ensure stability, prosperity and peace for all. Now is the time for the nation’s leaders to show courage and leadership, and to reaffirm their commitment to unity, to reconciliation and accountability, and to a better future for the people of South Sudan.
The United States, which has stood with the people of South Sudan throughout its troubled path to independence, remains committed to continue supporting them during its current crisis, as well as to lead the international response to the looming humanitarian and refugee crisis there. We remain a steadfast partner in support of their efforts to achieve a more peaceful and prosperous future for their young nation.