July 9th, South Sudan's independence day, is days away. Yet the prospects for lasting peace between North and South Sudan remain tenuous. The Enough Project continues to play a major leadership role in advocacy for the region. It's Sudan Now project has issued a report which outlines the conditions necessary to create that lasting peace and the role the US and others can play. Click here to read more and get a copy of the report.
According to various news reports, North and South Sudan have agreed to withdraw troops from the Abeyei region. As part of the agreement, a UN force composed of Ethiopian troops will be go into the region to ensure civilian safety. Read more in this account from IRIN.
Water for Sudan, Inc. and other NGOs are urging supporters to urge their government officials to keep political pressure on both the North and South Sudan governments to assure a peaceful transition for South Sudan's impending statehood and peace in the region overall.
Peace advocates will be rallying in Washington, D.C. on June 3rd. For more information, click here.
In addition, it's important that government officials hear directly from citizens on this critical issue. In the US, phone or write your Congressional representative and Senator. Click here to sign an online petition to President Obama. Outside the US contact your government office and/or UN representative.
The town of Abyei was the scene of fighting between North and South Sudan forces this past week. That area on the border between North and South Sudan is source of dispute and tension. (Read more here. and here) Under a separate part of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, Abeyei is supposed to have its own vote to determine if it will become part of the North or South. That vote has not yet been taken due to ongoing disputes about issues such as voter eligibility. (NOTE: This region is hundreds of miles north of Water for Sudan's drilling area. Salva and the WFS crews have not been in any danger as they've drilled wells.)
The international community, including the UN, the US and European countries, are pressuring both sides to stop the violence and continue the agreed on peaceful transition to South Sudan independent statehood's official start on July 9th. (photo from The Enough Project)
July 9th will mark the end of this transition and the official "birthday" of the world's 192nd state, South Sudan. The Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS) is acting to improve the soon-to-be new state's infrastructure and economy during the transition period begun with the January plebiscite vote. One example of this work is the recent workshop convened in Juba by the GOSS Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning. Over 400 delegates are meeting to to address the workshop's objectives which focus on good governance, public service efficiency, and enhancing South Sudan's quality of life. (Click here to read more).
Meanwhile, the international community continues its engagement with the transition and the emerging new country. The US Agency for International Development (USAID) has announced plans for an International Engagement Conference to help address private sector investment in Sudan, both North and South. The US, along with the Netherlands, the UK and Norway are spearheading the effort, with an emphasis on agricultural development as a key factor in improving life in the region. (To learn more, click here.)