Saturday, January 29, 2011

President Obama's Remarks on Crisis In Egypt

Friday, Jan. 28, 2011
State Dining Room
The White House

Remarks By President Barack Obama

Good evening, everybody.

My administration has been closely monitoring the situation in Egypt, and I know that we will be learning more tomorrow when day breaks. As the situation continues to unfold, our first concern is preventing injury or loss of life. So I want to be very clear in calling upon the Egyptian authorities to refrain from any violence against peaceful protesters.

The people of Egypt have rights that are universal. That includes the right to peaceful assembly and association, the right to free speech, and the ability to determine their own destiny. These are human rights. And the United States will stand up for them everywhere.

I also call upon the Egyptian government to reverse the actions that they've taken to interfere with access to the Internet, to cell phone service, and to social networks that do so much to connect people in the 21st Century.

At the same time, those protesting in the streets have the responsibility to express themselves peacefully. Violence and destruction will not lead to the reforms that they seek.

Now going forward, this moment of volatility that has to be turned into a moment of promise. The United States has a close partnership with Egypt. And we've cooperated on many issues, including working together to advance a more peaceful region.
But we've always been clear that there must be reform: political, social, and economic reforms that meet the aspirations of the Egyptian people. In the absence of these reforms, grievances have built up over time.

When President Mubarak addressed the Egyptian people tonight, he pledged a better democracy and greater economic opportunity. I just spoke to him after his speech. And I told him he has a responsibility to give meaning to those words, to take concrete steps and actions that deliver on that promise.

Violence will not address the grievances of the Egyptian people. And suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. What's needed right now are concrete steps that advance the rights of the Egyptian people, a meaningful dialogue between the government and its citizens and a path of political change that leads to a future of greater freedom and greater opportunity and justice for the Egyptian people.

Now ultimately the future of Egypt will be determined by the Egyptian people. I believe the Egyptian people want the same things that we all want: a better life for ourselves and our children, and a government that is fair and just and responsive.
Put simply, the Egyptian people want a future that befits the heirs to a great and ancient civilization. The United States always will be a partner in pursuit of that future, and we are committed to working with the Egyptian government and the Egyptian people, all quarters, to achieve it.

Around the world governments have an obligation to respond to their citizens. That's true here in the United States. That's true in Asia. It is true in Europe. It is true in Africa. And it is certainly true in the Arab world, where a new generation of citizens has the right to be heard. When I was in Cairo shortly after I was elected president, I said that all governments must maintain power through consent, not coercion. That is the single standard by which the people of Egypt will achieve the future they deserve.

Surely there will be difficult days to come, but the United States will continue to stand up for the rights of the Egyptian people and work with their government in pursuit of a future that is more just, more free, and more hopeful.

Thank you very much.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

New Documentary “OBAMA IN GHANA: The Untold Story” Premieres at the Embassy of Ghana in Washington, DC

Close to 150 people defied warnings of inclement weather on Tuesday January 11 to attend the premiere of Tony Regusters' documentary film "Obama In Ghana: The Untold Story" at the chancery of the embassy of Ghana in Washington, DC. Ghana's ambassador to the United States H.E. Daniel Ohene Agyekum commended Division Twelve media and her partners for producing the film and stressed its relevance for the entire African continent rather than just Ghana.

The event was co-sponsored by The Africa Society of the National Summit on Africa, Division Twelve Media, The African Union Diaspora African Forum and the African Communications Agency.

Below is a press release and a photo report about the film and event.


When President Barack Obama and the First Family made their historic sojourn to the Republic of Ghana in July of 2009, an occasion marking the first-ever visit by a Black American president to Black Africa, the international media descended on Ghana like a biblical horde of locust. Many of those journalists and television crews were shocked to discover that their press credentials had either been curtailed or their access to the American president greatly minimized.

Thus, major components of the story focusing on the impact of President Obama’s historic visit to that Sub-Saharan African nation were missed by global audiences.
Veteran Washington metropolitan area broadcast media professional, Tony Regusters, and his partners, Dr. Keith Hunter, a Washington-based physician with a deep love of Black history and an entrepreneur’s sense of adventure - and Ambassador Dr. Erieka F. Bennett, founder of the Ghana-based Diaspora African Forum, joined together to produce a documentary focusing on President Obama’s and the First Family’s incredible experience in Ghana.

“President Obama and First Family were only in Ghana for a day and a half,” said filmmaker, Tony Regusters, “but in that short time, the centuries between the day the first West African was kidnapped and sold into slavery and the day the first Black President of the United States and his family returned to Africa, was compressed in an amazing and miraculous experience of spiritual and psychological catharsis!”

The film, a video production called “OBAMA IN GHANA: The Untold Story” details the preparations, the politics and the pageantry of the Obama state visit, including speeches made not only by President Obama to Ghana’s Parliament, but remarks made by Ghana’s President John Atta Mills. Additional interviews include comments by Ghana’s former presidents, John Kufour and Flight Lt. Jerry John Rawlings.
“The film accomplishes everything we wanted it to,” says Dr. Erieka Bennett, an executive producer of the film and founder of the Diaspora African Forum, a mission at Accra’s W.E.B DuBois Center that holds diplomatic status granted by the Republic of Ghana. “It brings the incredible history of Africans in the Diaspora full circle and documents a moment in history that will never come again: the first visit by the first Black American President to a Black African nation.”

The film will have a one-night-only gala screening to benefit cultural projects of Washington, DC’s Ubuntu Village, which builds cultural bridges between Africa and the US, support programs of the Diaspora African Forum, and contribute funds toward the construction of a new K-8 school being built there by Xernona Clayton, a legendary broadcast executive at CNN.

“There are so many ‘untold stories’ in the world,” notes Dr. Keith Hunter, also one of the film’s executive producers. “Our hope is that, with the success of this film, we’re in a position to begin to tell at least more than a few of those stories, before they are lost forever to time and memory…”

A former advertising salesman at Essence Magazine, TV news writer/producer for CNN’s Washington, DC bureau and CNN International in Africa, and at Washington, DC’s venerable WUSA-TV9 News, Tony Regusters is also the co-creator (with former BET COO Sheila Johnson) of Black Entertainment Television’s award-winning “Teen Summit” program, Tony Regusters brings tremendous professional expertise and creativity to this first ‘untold stories’ project. “I’ve done just about everything you can do in media and communications, but this is my first film - and it represents a kind of coming full circle for me, since filmmaking is what I majored in as a communications student in college back in the 70’s. I guess if you keep your eyes on the prize, stay determined and true to what’s really in your heart, you can actually do anything that you can mentally see yourself doing. It’s a question of your ability, I think, to hold onto a vision. Ultimately, for me, this film is a tribute to the ancestors…”

For additional information about the “OBAMA IN GHANA: The Untold Story” documentary -or to schedule an interview with Tony Regusters, contact film publicist Tracy Knighton via email at – or by phone at (240) 671-5979.


Photo Report

H.E. Daniel Ohene Agyekum
Republic of Ghana

Mr. Tony Regusters
Executive Producer

Ms. Bernadette Paolo, Esq
President & CEO of the Africa Society

Ambassador Dr. Erieka Bennett
Executive Producer / Founder Diaspora African Forum

Dr. Keith Hunter
Executive Producer


Secretary Clinton on Successful Completion of Polling In Southern Sudan

Office of the Spokesman
For Immediate Release
January 17, 2011

Successful Completion of Polling in the Southern Sudan Referendum

The completion of a peaceful, orderly Southern Sudan referendum marks a significant achievement for the Sudanese people and a historic step toward full implementation of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). The United States commends the millions of Southern Sudanese people who participated in this historic process, and applauds both northern and southern leaders for creating conditions that allowed voters to cast their ballots freely and without fear, intimidation, or coercion. The successful vote was also a credit to the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission, the Southern Sudan Referendum Bureau, and more than 40 countries and international organizations. We welcome the positive statements issued in recent days by international observer missions from the African Union, Arab League, Inter-Governmental Authority on Development, European Union, and the Carter Center.

As we await the official results of the referendum, we reaffirm our commitment to remain a steadfast partner to both parties as they continue to work toward full implementation of the CPA and to develop their post-CPA relationship. The parties have an opportunity to forge a durable peace between the North and the South, and to build positive relationships with the international community. We hope they will seize this moment, and the United States supports their efforts to ensure a peaceful, more prosperous future for all Sudanese.

# # #

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Statement by President Obama on Events in Tunisia


Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release
January 14, 2011

Statement by the President on Events in Tunisia

I condemn and deplore the use of violence against citizens peacefully voicing their opinion in Tunisia, and I applaud the courage and dignity of the Tunisian people. The United States stands with the entire international community in bearing witness to this brave and determined struggle for the universal rights that we must all uphold, and we will long remember the images of the Tunisian people seeking to make their voices heard. I urge all parties to maintain calm and avoid violence, and call on the Tunisian government to respect human rights, and to hold free and fair elections in the near future that reflect the true will and aspirations of the Tunisian people.

As I have said before, each nation gives life to the principle of democracy in its own way, grounded in the traditions of its own people, and those countries that respect the universal rights of their people are stronger and more successful than those that do not. I have no doubt that Tunisia's future will be brighter if it is guided by the voices of the Tunisian people.


Friday, January 14, 2011

Senior State Department Official to Travel to Djibouti, Kenya & DRC


Office of the Spokesman

For Immediate Release
January 14, 2011

Assistant Secretary for Political-Military Affairs Travels to Djibouti, Kenya, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs Andrew J. Shapiro will travel to Djibouti, Kenya, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo January 14-23. He will meet with senior civilian and military officials in Djibouti, January 15-17; Kenya, January 18-19; and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, January 20-22, to build on security cooperation initiatives aimed at meeting shared security challenges.

The Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM) is the Department of State’s primary link to the Department of Defense, and oversees more than $5 billion in annual security assistance programs, offering 42 partner nations in sub-Saharan Africa training opportunities and, in some cases, equipment essential to building modern, professional armed forces across the continent. The PM Bureau also leads the U.S. Government’s diplomatic response to piracy in eastern Africa through the 60-nation Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia.

Among other activities, the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs has helped train and equip nearly 140,000 personnel from 37 nations around the world – including 25 partners in sub-Saharan Africa – to meet the growing global demand for peacekeepers through its Global Peace Operations Initiative (GPOI), implemented in the region through the Africa Contingency Operations Training and Assistance (ACOTA) Program.

In addition, the Bureau’s Conventional Weapons Destruction Program has promoted regional security and post conflict recovery by safely disposing of more than 200,000 small arms, 2,500 tons of munitions, and returned more than 25,000,000 square meters of land in 27 African nations to productive use through efforts to clear landmines and unexploded ordnance though the U.S. Humanitarian Mine Action Program.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Press Briefing on Sudan - U.S. Asst Sec for African Affairs Johnnie Carson and Ambassador Princeton Lyman

US DEPARTMENT OF STATE Office of the Spokesman
For Immediate Release
January 11, 2011

On-The-Record Briefing

Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Johnnie Carson and Ambassador Princeton Lyman

On the Southern Sudan Referendum

January 11, 2011

Washington, D.C.

MS. FULTON: Good afternoon and welcome to the special press briefing on the Southern Sudan referendum. As you know, voting in Southern Sudan began on time on Sunday, January 9th. Day three of the polling has just concluded, and today we are pleased to have two of our senior diplomatic officials on hand to discuss this historic milestone in implementing the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement. Joining us today are Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson and Ambassador Princeton Lyman, who is just back from Sudan, for a firsthand account. Each will make brief remarks, and then we will open it up for about 20 minutes of questions.

So without further ado, it’s my pleasure to introduce Assistant Secretary of State Johnnie Carson.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARSON: Thanks, Heide. Thank you and good afternoon. The referendum on Southern Sudan’s independence is going extremely well, and we are pleased with the cooperation that we have seen from the leaders on both sides. The polling process is scheduled to last seven days and end on January 15th. Thus far, we are pleased with the high level of turnout and the cooperation of officials in both North and South Sudan.

The process has been peaceful with only a handful of reported disturbances in Abyei and north of the 1956 North-South border. There is no reported conflict in the areas of Southern Sudan other than in Abyei. Officials from the North and South should be commended for their collaboration and handling of this monumental challenging and historical task.

As we all know, this referendum is a historic moment for Sudan, for Africa, and for the international community. The people of Southern Sudan are determining whether they will remain a part of a united Sudan or become an independent sovereign state. The referendum marks the last major phase of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed by the representatives of the Governments of North and South Sudan in January of 2005.

More critical work needs to be done in the coming months to ensure final implementation of the agreement. Issues related to Abyei, to citizenship, to boundaries, and wealth-sharing remain to be worked out. But the Sudanese Government and people of the South have defied all of their skeptics in coming this far. Just as few days remain before the polls close, and we are hopeful that the Sudanese people will continue their efforts to ensure that the process remains on course. The United States is committed to doing everything possible to ensure that the referendum and the final implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement lead to an outcome in which the Sudanese people can prosper peacefully under a single or under two separate states.

As many of you are aware, President Obama and his foreign policy team, especially Secretary of State Clinton, UN Ambassador Susan Rice, Deputy National Security Advisor Denis McDonough, and Special Envoy Scott Gration are putting enormous efforts into supporting the outcome, the successful outcome, and conclusion of the current referendum. They have been aided and assisted by Ambassador Princeton Lyman and more recently Dane – Ambassador Dane Smith, who is working on the Darfur issue. And I might also say that while we have focused very hard on ensuring the completion of the CPA, we have not taken our eye off of the issue of Darfur.

We have also in recent months significantly expanded our diplomatic presence throughout Southern Sudan, placing a very senior officer, Ambassador Barrie Walkley, as our Consul General there, and substantially increasing our staff. As these elections move forward over the next several days, we have American officials located in five of the 10 Southern states where they have had an opportunity to observe more closely the voting. We have also had officers traveling into the other states to observe the election process. A successful referendum is in the best interests of Sudan, of Africa, the United States, and the international community. And we are committed to do as much as we can to ensure that the Comprehensive Peace Agreement is fully implemented, and that whatever results will lead to a better relationship between the United States and the people of Southern Sudan as well as the people of Sudan who remain a part of the North.

I will now turn it over to my colleague, Ambassador Princeton Lyman.

AMBASSADOR LYMAN: Thank you very much. As Ambassador Carson said, we are very pleased at the ability of the Government of Sudan, the Southern government, and particularly I want to pay credit to the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission for reaching agreement, making all the arrangements that would make it possible to have this referendum begin on time, January 9th. And I know some of you are quite aware that for some time, people have questioned whether that would be possible, whether it was possible politically or whether it was possible technically. And the fact that it’s come off is a credit across the board.

I’m particularly impressed with the willingness of people in Sudan to make a very tough decision because to contemplate a split of your country and to reach a decision to go ahead with that is a courageous act. Second, I’m impressed with the international community and the role it’s played to make it possible for this referendum to take place. The work of the United Nations and its mission in Sudan has been extremely important in providing technical and logistical support for the referendum as well as for security.

The American agencies working to make this possible – very impressive. You had the USAID mission, you had IFES, you have the Carter Center, you have NDI, you have IRI all working out there, all knowing their jobs, all working as a team to support the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission to make it possible. And Chairman Khalil, the chair of the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission, who had to pull that commission together, make them work as a team, work out the arrangements, work with the international community, fend off a lot of pressures and criticisms to say, “Well, you can’t really do this,” and to pull it off. So a lot of people deserve credit for making this possible.

As Assistant Secretary Carson has said, this is one big step, but now, the two parties, based on the results of the referendum, have to work out all those post-referendum issues, which frankly were not addressed very far in the period before. The parties simply were either not ready or not in a position to address them before the referendum. So we have big issues out there to be resolved, and these are going to be tough negotiations. It has to do with the management of the oil sector, finalization of some of the disputed border areas, questions of citizenship, working out banking and currency arrangements, security arrangements, international legal operations, debt, et cetera. So these are all tough issues.

Now, a lot of technical work has been done. There have been technical committees called cluster groups which have been working on all these issues, getting a lot of technical input, both domestic and foreign. So a lot of work has been done on it, but the tough political decisions on these issues remains to be done.

Now, there has been in Abyei some clashes recently. Abyei is not taking part in the referendum, and nothing in these unfortunate situations is impacting on the referendum. Nevertheless, this is a worrisome situation. Abyei, as you know, was scheduled to have a referendum also to start on January 9th. It was to be a referendum in which the people of Abyei decided whether they wanted to continue to be part of the North, which they are now, or to become part of the South. And there couldn’t be – there was no agreement on voter eligibility; the referendum couldn’t be held. This remains an extremely important and sensitive issue to be resolved in the future.

This is also a historically tense time within Abyei as the migration begins. And because the migration hasn’t been fully worked out between the Ngok Dinka and the Misseriya, there’s a lot of tension on the ground. And some of the violence that we’ve seen, some of these clashes is a product of that tension. We’re pleased that the government, the Ngok Dinka, the SPLM are all working in meetings in Abyei today and tomorrow to resolve these issues, bring things under control, work out the arrangements for this year’s migration, et cetera, and hopefully contain the situation. But the long-term resolution of Abyei is obviously a political decision that has to be made.

Just finally on the atmosphere, I was visiting polling stations in the North – all very well organized, no problems, no security problems, people walked in and out not feeling any pressures one way or another. Voting has been light in the North, probably as we had suspected. In the South, as you’ve heard, a lot of people coming to the polls very excited. That’s where the bulk of the voters are, and it’s gone very well. There has been no problems at all throughout the area.

We have people and lots and lots of other observers in Southern Sudan. You have observer groups from, of course, the Carter Center, from the EU, from the Arab League, from the Africa Union, from other groups, IGAD, and thousands of domestic observers. We watched in the North – northern polling stations, as many as ten observers sitting at each station – more observers, in some cases, than voters coming in and out. But it was a good sign. People were organized. They were eager to make this a success. So the mood in both North and South in the way the voting’s going has been very positive.

So let me stop there, and I think Ambassador Carson and I are happy to take some questions.

MS. FULTON: We’ll open the floor for questions.

QUESTION: Yes, my name is Said Arikat from (inaudible) daily newspaper. My question to you, sir, is this that – all the tension that was expected or the violence that was expected that did not happen, is that in any way as a result of some sort of a deal where President of Sudan Bashir has less to worry about versus the international court, the criminal court?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARSON: Let me start, and we can both answer these questions. No, there was no deal worked out. I think that the absence of violence in the South is a reflection of the fact that both Northern and Southern leaders have all come to the same conclusion – that it is in their interests to see that the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and the referendum in the South go smoothly.

I think that the visit a week ago Tuesday by President Bashir down to Juba was indeed an act of enormous political courage. He was met with thousands of people on the street holding up banners expressing their desire for independence. But instead of being repelled by this message, he spoke very clearly that he would recognize the outcome of the referendum vote, and that if the people of the South chose independence, the government of the North would accept it and would work with an independent Southern Sudan as a brotherly state. I think there has been over the last year a growing recognition among many people in the senior ranks of the National Congress Party that this outcome, this vote, was inevitable, essential, and would, in fact, open a new door for them as well as for the people of the South.

AMBASSADOR LYMAN: Could I just add to that quickly? There was a lot of concern that there may be problems with the freedom of people in the North, southerners in the North, to vote and that there might be intimidation or et cetera. That also hasn’t happened, and I think it’s because, as Ambassador Carson said, once it was accepted that this was the process that needed to go forward, that it didn’t make sense to try and disrupt it or manipulate it, et cetera. There was no incentive to make it difficult for people in the North to vote.

QUESTION: I have a quick follow-up on the issue of citizenship. Now, we know that there are millions of southerners in the North, while much less in the South. And there’s going to be an area where many people – perhaps thousands or even hundreds of thousands – will be without any kind of citizenship, being rejected by either the South or the North. How do you assess the situation and how do you deal with it?

AMBASSADOR LYMAN: Well, both parties have said in discussions that they wouldn’t leave people stateless. They understand that that’s not acceptable. But the exact processes for citizenship have frankly not been agreed by the two parties. The National Congress Party has said that they do not favor granting dual citizenship to all southerners for a variety of reasons.

For southerners to have an option to choose to be citizens of the South, the South has to come into being and pass citizenship laws. The South cannot confer by law citizenship people – on people who don’t live there, even if they are diaspora people. So we need a period of time where all this gets worked out. In the meanwhile, the people in the North have said, “Look, people in the – southerners living in the North will be protected, their property will be protected, et cetera.” But on the questions you raised, how that citizenship works out so that people get choice and nobody gets left with statelessness, the details have not been worked out. It’s one of the big issues that remains.

QUESTION: (inaudible) with BBC Arabic Service. The American rhetoric towards President Bashir has certainly changed in the past few weeks, most recently by the Secretary herself. And judging by what you have mentioned today, it looks like you’re fairly pleased by the conduct of both sides as far as the referendum is concerned.

My question is: Based on these changes recently, can or should or how soon can Khartoum expect the implementation of the American incentives that were offered to Sudan, to Khartoum specifically, as far as the removal of the – on the list of the state sponsoring terrorism and the – all the other incentives, the diplomatic relations? Can – do you have a timeline for these incentives?

AMBASSADOR LYMAN: Yes, we do, and that has been communicated to the government. I think the first step would be on the completion of the referendum and the acceptance of the results that the United States would begin the process of examining removal from the state sponsors of terrorism. That involves certain reviews and certain consultations with Congress, but that would begin after acceptance of the referendum results. So that would be the first step.

The other steps involving normalization and finalizing that designation removal would all come, we expect, around July as the other elements of the CPA are fully achieved, agreeing on the post-referendum arrangements, resolving the Abyei issue, et cetera. So one of the big processes start right after acceptance of the referendum results, but specific steps beyond that, probably timed more for July.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARSON: Let me just – if I would just add to underscore, one of the important aspects here is that even though we have clearly indicated a willingness to remove Sudan from the state sponsor of terrorism list if the CPA is fully implemented, Sudan must also comply with the criteria under the law for the removal of this state sponsor designation. But it does, in fact, have sufficient time to do that to align it very closely with any possible independence for the South.

QUESTION: Sorry. Could you just be more specific? What criteria are you mentioning specifically?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARSON: The state sponsor of terrorism law says that the government cannot be engaged in or support any terrorist organizations within the last six months. It cannot be officially aiding, abetting, supporting international terrorist groups or organizations.

MS. FULTON: Okay. We have one here.

QUESTION: Ambassador Lyman, further to your comment about the cluster groups, could you say something about the composition? Are they coming from North and South? Do they have international participation? Are they actively working now? And is there a timetable for the negotiations on these issues to resume?

AMBASSADOR LYMAN: The cluster groups are made up of Northern and Southern representatives. They are people technically qualified to deal with those issues, whether they’re legal issues, economic issues, et cetera. Some of the groups have made a lot more progress than others. The security group has made a lot of progress. The legal group looking at legal issues has made a lot of progress.

The economic group has not made a lot of progress except on a technical basis; that is, they know what the issues are, they’ve received a lot of help internationally. The Norwegians have been particularly helpful on defining the issues and possible ways of dealing with the oil sector. Others have helped a lot on defining issues of currency and what that would mean for the two countries. So they’re gathering a lot of technical information, but I would say that they need more political guidance to go farther than they’ve gone, and that timetable has not been set up.

These all operate under the auspices of the African Union High Level Panel, chaired by President Thabo Mbeki and by two other former presidents of Africa, Pierre Buyoya of Burundi and President Abubakar of Nigeria. And the timetable that everybody thought we’d have leading up to the referendum just didn’t happen. So I know now we’re going to have to see how the two parties set up a new timetable, and we don’t have it yet.

QUESTION: There’s already an exchange of population which is going on. Do you expect a major exchange after the referendum results come out? And will that create a law and order situation?

AMBASSADOR LYMAN: So – there has been a steady movement of people coming out of the North going back home to the South. There are quite a few Southerners living in the North. Figures vary, so I don’t want to put a number on it, but it’s a large number. About 140-, 150,000 have in the last – since I guess August moved South, some to Abyei, but – which is not technically in the South, but to other states in the South.

What the Southern government has just done is to try and make this a little bit more orderly, because some people have sold their property and quit their jobs and thought the buses were coming and they never came, so they sat there for a week or ten days before the transport came. People got piled up in Kosti waiting for the barges to take them down the river. The bigger problem, however, is the absorptive capacity of the South to handle people coming back, and this is, as you know, a poor, poor region. Hopefully, most people will go back to where they – the villages and places they came from, but still, the long-term absorptive capacity is questionable.

The numbers that may come over time – it’s hard to say. I’ve heard projections of 300,000, 500,000, but we don’t know yet. People are making their own choices. The international community is working with the states in the South, particularly on short-term help, some initial supplies of food and things so people can get started. But the long-term integration, I think, is the biggest problem.

QUESTION: Just a quick follow-up. Is the U.S. joining hands with the EU, which is already planning a major help line?

AMBASSADOR LYMAN: We are under the auspices of OCHA, the UN operation. It’s a coordinated effort among all the international agencies on how do we meet the integration questions in the South, and we are working very closely with them. I’ve also met with officials in the North. UNHCR is now beginning to work more with people getting ready to go. The UN is also working, and the government of the North has now allowed for much more access to those communities so we can get a better sense of their timetable.

MS. FULTON: Can we take about two more questions? Elise.

QUESTION: I was wondering if you could expand a little more just on that. The whole issue that – I mean, it seems as if you’re just dealing with this as just a fait accompli that it’s happening and that – I mean, I’m just wondering if you’re – everybody, not just the United States, is creating a lot of expectations in terms of what’s going to happen. I mean, for some reason, if it doesn’t go through, if there is fraud involved, I mean, what’s going to happen in that terms? And I’m just wondering if you’re not only creating expectations but affecting the outcome in that way by already – not just yourselves, but activists and experts are kind of in – like, encouraging – you’re encouraging it in a way.

AMBASSADOR LYMAN: Well, we’re not encouraging a particular outcome. But --

QUESTION: But by talking about all the assistance that you would give to the country if it were to secede, if the referendum were to go through, I feel as if – I’m wondering if you’re creating a reality on the ground that is creating expectations of --

AMBASSADOR LYMAN: I don’t think we are creating a reality on the ground in the South about their attitudes on which way to vote. I do think that people, by and large, think that it’s going to vote for succession and are doing contingency planning accordingly. That’s true, but it’s not because we’re promoting it. All the indications are - they’re going, but we have to see what the – what comes out.

I don’t consider anything in this process a fait accompli. There are – first you have to get through the referendum. Then you have to have the judgment that it was, in fact, carried out properly. And there are, as I mentioned, thousands of observers who are going to give their reports as to whether they found it reflected adequately the view of the people, it was fair enough, et cetera. A very important panel in this regard is a UN panel headed by former Tanzanian president, President Mkapa, because they speak for the UN, and if they – their judgment on this process is going to be very important.

It is a referendum. It’s not an election that you have lots of complicated ballots and a lot of contested races going on like in the April election. It’s a yes or no. It’s a succession or non-succession vote. So it’s a simpler ballot, and so far, the observers are going around and not running into a lot of problems. So yeah, we’re optimistic that it’s coming off well.

But, look, we still have to finish this process. We have to have it judged; we have to have acceptance not only by the Government of Sudan, but internationally. The African Union is very important in this regard. The Africa Union has never historically liked to see countries split apart in Africa. They feel it’s very destabilizing. So it’s an important decision for the Africa Union, and the fact that they’re lending so much support to the negotiations and Thabo Mbeki’s panel, et cetera, is very important. They’re sending their own observers to the referendum as well.

And then we have all the subsequent issues, and I think these are going to be very tough negotiations. I think they’re going to be very tough. And when you’re negotiating issues that tough and you have underlying feelings on both sides of maybe historical resentment, et cetera, it’s going to be a tough period over the next six months. So --

QUESTION: And you’ll stay on, Ambassador, for the negotiations?

AMBASSADOR LYMAN: I will stay on if they – if the government wants me to stay on, I will stay on. I think the U.S. is going to be heavily engaged. Let Johnnie talk to you.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CARSON: Let me – no, I don’t think it – I think Ambassador Lyman’s right about all of that. It’s not a fait accompli. But I think – just remember that this is the last phase of a peace process that was signed in Naivasha, Kenya in January of 2005. And people have been building up over the last five years to the point at which they would be allowed to participate in a referendum to determine their future.

Prior to the signing of that agreement in Kenya in 2005, North and South Sudan had been locked in a bitter civil war for the past two decades prior to that, in which some 2 million people were killed. If there is an expectation about the importance of the referendum and the moment, it is the basis of the fact that after two decades of fighting and 5.5 years of an interim arrangement, that they now have an opportunity to bring closure to one of the darkest chapters in their history, both for those in the South who have suffered and who have believed for many years, decades, that they were second-class citizens; and for those in the North who have also wanted to bring an end to the civil strife that has slowed down the development of their country and caused it its international respect as a result of some of the practices that were carried out during this bitter struggle.

This was an extraordinarily important moment for the people of Southern Sudan. This is an extraordinarily important week for them. But if there is a sense of expectation, it is built over a period of some 2.5 decades in which we could now be at the very cusp of seeing the end of one of Africa’s longest wars and longest tragedies.

Ambassador Lyman is absolutely right that what lies ahead is extraordinarily difficult and will require persistent, patient, and methodical negotiation against two parties who were once bitter enemies, but now stand the chance of being two states that can live with dignity and respect side by side. But we have to get through these issues. And we need people like Ambassador Lyman to help us and to help them work through the complications of citizenship, wealth-sharing, borders, Abyei, the distribution of wealth and national assets. These are very difficult questions. They’re difficult for a country which is losing a third of its population, a quarter of its land mass, and it’s difficult for a government which is only five years old in the south that comes out of one of the poorest regions in the world, difficult.

We have to work with both sides. We do, in fact, have an opportunity to help advance the cause of peace in Central Africa and in Sudan, but it will not end with this referendum on Saturday. In fact, it closes one phase and opens up a more challenging one.

MS. FULTON: Ladies and gentlemen, I’m sorry, I’m afraid we’ve exhausted the time we have available.

QUESTION: Can we have just a quick clarification on the status of Abyei? I mean, it was postponed – is it postponed indefinitely or –

AMBASSADOR LYMAN: The referendum could not be arranged on time, so the issue now remains to be resolved how to go forward. And there has been no agreement between the two sides. President Mbeki has been working extremely hard on bringing the sides together on this. The two presidents, President Bashir and President Kiir of the South, have met twice to discuss it, but they haven’t reached agreement. Do you proceed back to the idea of a referendum, do you come up with an alternative solution, et cetera; there’s been no agreement. So this issue remains out there and it’s an important one to get resolved.

MS. FULTON: I’d like to say thank you to Assistant Secretary Carson and Ambassador Lyman, and thank you for joining us today. This concludes the briefing.

# # #

Monday, January 10, 2011

President Obama On Southern Sudan's Referendum - As Posted In The New York Times

January 8, 2011

In Sudan, an Election and a Beginning

NOT every generation is given the chance to turn the page on the past and write a new chapter in history. Yet today — after 50 years of civil wars that have killed two million people and turned millions more into refugees — this is the opportunity before the people of southern Sudan.

Over the next week, millions of southern Sudanese will vote on whether to remain part of Sudan or to form their own independent nation. This process — and the actions of Sudanese leaders — will help determine whether people who have known so much suffering will move toward peace and prosperity, or slide backward into bloodshed. It will have consequences not only for Sudan, but also for sub-Saharan Africa and the world.

The historic vote is an exercise in self-determination long in the making, and it is a key part of the 2005 peace agreement that ended the civil war in Sudan. Yet just months ago, with preparations behind schedule, it was uncertain whether this referendum would take place at all. It is for this reason that I gathered with leaders from Sudan and around the world in September to make it clear that the international community was united in its belief that this referendum had to take place and that the will of the people of southern Sudan had to be respected, regardless of the outcome.

In an important step forward, leaders from both northern and southern Sudan — backed by more than 40 nations and international organizations — agreed to work together to ensure that the voting would be timely, peaceful, free and credible and would reflect the will of the Sudanese people. The fact that the voting appears to be starting on time is a tribute to those in Sudan who fulfilled their commitments. Most recently, the government of Sudan said that it would be the first to recognize the south if it voted for independence.

Now, the world is watching, united in its determination to make sure that all parties in Sudan live up to their obligations. As the referendum proceeds, voters must be allowed access to polling stations; they must be able to cast their ballots free from intimidation and coercion. All sides should refrain from inflammatory rhetoric or provocative actions that could raise tensions or prevent voters from expressing their will.

As the ballots are counted, all sides must resist prejudging the outcome. For the results to be credible, the commission that is overseeing the referendum must be free from pressure and interference. In the days ahead, leaders from north and south will need to work together to prevent violence and ensure that isolated incidents do not spiral into wider instability. Under no circumstance should any side use proxy forces in an effort to gain an advantage while we wait for the final results.

A successful vote will be cause for celebration and an inspiring step forward in Africa’s long journey toward democracy and justice. Still, lasting peace in Sudan will demand far more than a credible referendum.

The 2005 peace agreement must be fully implemented — a goal that will require compromise. Border disputes, and the status of the Abyei region, which straddles north and south, need to be resolved peacefully. The safety and citizenship of all Sudanese, especially minorities — southerners in the north and northerners in the south — have to be protected. Arrangements must be made for the transparent distribution of oil revenues, which can contribute to development. The return of refugees needs to be managed with extraordinary care to prevent another humanitarian catastrophe.

If the south chooses independence, the international community, including the United States, will have an interest in ensuring that the two nations that emerge succeed as stable and economically viable neighbors, because their fortunes are linked. Southern Sudan, in particular, will need partners in the long-term task of fulfilling the political and economic aspirations of its people.

Finally, there can be no lasting peace in Sudan without lasting peace in the western Sudan region of Darfur. The deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent Darfuris — and the plight of refugees like those I met in a camp in neighboring Chad five years ago — must never be forgotten. Here, too, the world is watching. The government of Sudan must live up to its international obligations. Attacks on civilians must stop. United Nations peacekeepers and aid workers must be free to reach those in need.

As I told Sudanese leaders in September, the United States will not abandon the people of Darfur. We will continue our diplomatic efforts to end the crisis there once and for all. Other nations must use their influence to bring all parties to the table and ensure they negotiate in good faith. And we will continue to insist that lasting peace in Darfur include accountability for crimes that have been committed, including genocide.

Along with our international partners, the United States will continue to play a leadership role in helping all the Sudanese people realize the peace and progress they deserve. Today, I am repeating my offer to Sudan’s leaders — if you fulfill your obligations and choose peace, there is a path to normal relations with the United States, including the lifting of economic sanctions and beginning the process, in accordance with United States law, of removing Sudan from the list of states that sponsor terrorism. In contrast, those who flout their international obligations will face more pressure and isolation.

Millions of Sudanese are making their way to the polls to determine their destiny. This is the moment when leaders of courage and vision can guide their people to a better day. Those who make the right choice will be remembered by history — they will also have a steady partner in the United States.

Barack Obama is the president of the United States.

Joint Press Conference - U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan General Scott Gration And Senator John Kerry

Office of the Spokesman
On-The-Record Briefing
Joint Press Conference

U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan General Scott Gration And Senator John Kerry

January 8, 2011

Juba, Sudan

MODERATOR: Ladies and gentlemen, we are very much honored today by the visit of our brother from America. This is Special – U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan General Scott Gration (inaudible). Next to him is Senator John Kerry, a tall man. He’s not a (inaudible) man, now, is he? (Laughter.) You can see also the Americans could be as tall as we are. He’s even taller than us.

So we – I welcome them on your behalf. They’ve come all the way to come and express their solidarity with us and to make sure that we are doing it the right way, because we are not as (inaudible) as the American democratic system, but I think we are learning. So it’s a great pleasure to have – sorry, I have forgotten one of our best friends, Ambassador Walkley (inaudible) he is there. I know most of you who are there know him.

So I would like to welcome General Gration to say a few words and to say hi to you.

MR. GRATION: Well, thank you very much. What a wonderful day. Many of us have been looking forward to this day for a very long time. This is an historic milestone and it’s an event that is not only life-changing for the people of Southern Sudan, but it will be a significant event for all of Africa and the rest of the world.

I know that this day has been made possible by the words of many – many of you that are represented in this crowd. But especially, I want to thank the chairman of the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission, Professor Khalil. I also want to thank my friend (inaudible). (Inaudible) has been a tremendous individual in terms of dedication, in terms of leadership, and in terms of working through some very difficult issues. And I wanted to thank you for your personal dedication. I know this has been very difficult at times, but you’ve succeeded, and we’re all extremely proud of you as you look around and see what is happening in your country. And it’s traceable to this building, it’s traceable to your leadership and your staff, so thank you very much.

This CPA also recognizes the commitment between the North and the South, and we’ve been very encouraged by the statements that the leaders of both parties have put out in recent days, commitments about honoring and recognizing the results of this very important referendum. And we also understand that this referendum is really, in many ways, just the beginning. And no matter what the results will be, the reality is, is that the longest border between the North and the South will remain that 1,936-kilometer border that may be the border of two sovereign nations. And we also know that coordination, communication, agreements, and cooperation across that border will be critical. And so what you’ve done today by putting together a on-time, peaceful, transparent referendum really marks the beginning.

Several other issues have to be resolved in the next couple months as we approach the end of the interim period, and those include Abyei. And we call upon the leaders to ensure that the people of Abyei, the constituents, can have their needs, their aspirations, and their rights met in accordance with the Abyei protocol and the PCA ruling. And we’re confident that this is possible and we want this to happen as soon as possible. We also can’t forget the popular consultations in Blue Nile and in Southern Kordofan. These are very important, and we call upon Khartoum and others to recognize these results and ensure that they take place.

Before I step off, I want to assure you of the United States commitment to both parties, to the North and to the South. President Obama has personally invested in Sudan. He took part in the United Nations General Assembly and he is briefed every day on what happens here. And that same commitment will continue after the referendum, after the end of the interim period, and for as long as our two countries have this relationship – and maybe three countries have this relationship.

So I want to leave you with the commitment that the President and our country has made to ensure that this land remains a land of security, stability, and prosperity and peace. This wouldn’t have happened in the United States without an all-of-government approach. And our Congress has been key to our commitment and has been key to our support and has been key to our assistance to Sudan. And one of the leaders of our Congress who has led the way, he has come out here repeatedly to demonstrate his support and assistance, is Senator John Kerry. And I want to say, Senator, thank you very much. It’s your support and your commitment that has brought us to this point, and I appreciate that.

And now, I’d like to turn the mike over to him. (Applause.)

SENATOR KERRY: Well, General Gration, thank you very, very much. Let me begin by congratulating the people of Sudan, North and South, and the Sudan – the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission for its extraordinary work to bring this country to this place the evening before an historic vote.

I want to join General Gration in congratulating Professor Mohammed Khalil, who has led the efforts in the North, and the referendum bureau and Justice Chan Madut here in Juba, who has really shown remarkable initiative and leadership in doing things that he wasn’t certain would necessarily get the support in one place or another, but he exercised judgment, he exercised leadership, and he has put together a remarkable operation in the building behind us that will help to process the votes when they start coming in at the end of the week of voting.

It’s their efforts that are responsible for where we are, theirs and the fundamental decisions made by the leaders of this country in signing the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and determining to try to choose a different path forward for this country. We’ve been privileged – we being General Gration, the special envoy of the President of the United States, who has been here time and again over the last two years; Ambassador Princeton Lyman, who has been negotiating and working hard on all of these issues; Ambassador Walkley here in Juba – all of them have been working as a team representing the people of the United States at the specific direction of the President, President Obama, and Secretary Clinton and the State Department.

And they all deserve – all of the parts of their operation – USAID and the cooperation with the United Nations, our ambassador to the United Nations – all of them have (inaudible). But I want to emphasize this: They – we – are not responsible for what is happening here. What is happening here is happening because the people of Sudan set out on this track and because the leaders agreed in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement that this is the road that we would go down. That decision was made five and a half, six years ago. And we’re coming now to this critical juncture where we may or may not have two new nations born of the same history suddenly moving together to write a new history.

So this is the end of one chapter, if indeed there is a vote to be independent, and the beginning of the new chapter. In fact, no matter what happens, it’s the beginning of a new chapter because issues are going to have to continue to be resolved, as General Gration has said, regarding oil revenues, the relationship between North and South, security arrangements, and other kinds of issues. We are prepared – in fact, anxious – to be part of helping to write that next chapter.

It is no secret that the relationship between the United States and Sudan became difficult during a period of time 15 or 20 years ago. All of us would like to change that. And the leaders in the North have made it clear by embracing this referendum, and in President Bashir’s visit here just a few days ago he made it clear, that they are prepared to embrace and recognize the results and, no matter what, help to build this new future.

It’s very rare in anybody’s lifetime that you have the opportunity in a country of this size, in a place as important as this, to be able to make this kind of choice and to begin to rewrite history. So all of us are excited. What happens in Sudan, some people may be scratching their heads in some parts of the world and saying, “Well, how does this affect me?” Well, the truth is that the stability of Sudan is important to all of us. In a world that has become increasingly more complicated, increasingly more volatile, increasingly more extreme in various places, we want to see Sudan, North and South, contribute to global stability and become a partner for peace all around the world. That’s the future that we can grab onto tomorrow, and we’re proud to be here today to help contribute to it. Thank you. (Applause.)

MODERATOR: Before I (inaudible), we have some (inaudible) for our friends so that when they are in America, they will (inaudible) to the North something about Southern Sudan (inaudible). (Applause.) Thank you, Senator John Kerry. (Applause.)

SENATOR KERRY: Thank you very much. Thank you very, very much.

MODERATOR: (Off-mike.)

SENATOR KERRY: You should see this. It’s quite extraordinary. It’s going up in my office. (Laughter and applause.) I’m feeling very special (inaudible).

STAFF: And now the floor is open for the media to ask questions, and (inaudible) four questions, please. We would ask that you identify yourself, please, before you ask a question, and your affiliation. Do we have a question? All right.

QUESTION: Hi, I’m Jared Ferrie from Bloomberg News. You spoke about the difficult relationship between the United States and Sudan 20 years ago, and I wonder how the result of this referendum might change that specifically in regards to the (inaudible).

SENATOR KERRY: President Obama made it clear in a letter that he wrote to me several months ago which has been shared with your leaders, North and South. He made it clear in that letter that if this referendum takes place on time, if it takes place peacefully, if the results are recognized as legitimate and accepted by the North, that he will then initiate the process to have the evaluation made by our agencies in order to see if that can be lifted. I believe, having checked preliminarily with some of those agencies, that there is strong argument that it can and should be lifted. And at the appropriate time, I’ll say more about that publicly.

But clearly, this initiative and the resolution of the other issues that need to be completed over the course of the next weeks and months – those are the key to opening the door to an entirely new relationship between the West and the United States and Sudan. And that includes not just the issues of the state sponsored terror designation, but it also includes the question of sanctions, the normalization of relationship between the United States, the sending of an ambassador to one country or two depending on the outcome of the referendum, and also the resolution of Darfur.

And the President remains highly focused on the question of Darfur. All Americans are concerned about that. That’s one of the things that’s (inaudible) in our policy over the course of these last years. But I am confident based on the conversations I’ve had in the North and here – and I think General Gration, whose efforts are going to be very much focused on Darfur and on the post-CPA efforts, would confirm that all of this can be resolved in the course of negotiations, and we think much of it can be resolved very quickly.

So this is part of what makes this moment so critical. It really can define the relationship between Sudan, North and South, and the United States and the West. And that’s what’s on the table.

Do you want to add anything?

QUESTION: Senator Kerry, Frank Langfitt from National Public Radio. Having control of (inaudible), how do you see (inaudible) violence (inaudible)?

SENATOR KERRY: Well, I think it’s safe to say that when Secretary Clinton uttered those words, a lot of people were deeply concerned about where we were with respect to the preparations for this referendum. And it’s, frankly, due to the courage of people like Justice Chan, through the extraordinary efforts of people on the ground – international, many, many different players – the United Nations, USAID, the Carter Center, the Norwegians, the Dutch, the British, the French. Many people have been involved in this. And it’s that international effort that, frankly, stepped up together with the bona fide efforts of the leaders in the North to help to guarantee that we could proceed forward, all of which have brought us to this moment.

So are there still risks? The answer is yes. But they have been very significantly reduced, if not diminished, over the course of these last months. President Bashir’s visit here and his embrace of this process is, in fact, a significant contribution to the climate within which this referendum will take place. And so I think all of us can be grateful that the work has been done to put this in a position to start on time tomorrow, and the Sudanese people are going to write the history of what this referendum means and of where it goes from here.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) there have been allegations in the past that the (inaudible).

MR. GRATION: Well, first of all, let me correct that statement. We have not made any kind of position, as we were the mediators and facilitators to the Abyei talks. Our goal was to establish an environment where the parties themselves can come up with an agreement. It is true that we put some options on the table to consider, but we never made any commitment as to what option was a better option, what option they should choose. We still maintain that Abyei needs to be resolved. And this is a tough issue, as you know. It’s a passionate issue. It’s one that has been very difficult to come up to a solution.

But we believe that this is an issue that has to be resolved if we want to have a lasting and durable peace. And the rights of the Ngok Dinka and the claims of the Misseriya are going to have to be worked out in a way that satisfies both groups and both parties. And we will continue to work with the North, we’ll continue to work with the South, to do anything we can to help facilitate a solution that will result in peace and a final solution for Abyei that satisfies both parties. Thank you.

STAFF: Other questions? (Inaudible.) All right. Thank you all very much. We appreciate your time. (Applause.)

Sunday, January 9, 2011

President Obama on Southen Sudan's Referendum


Office of the Press Secretary


Statement by the President on Sudan

I am extremely pleased that polling has started for the Southern Sudan Referendum, and congratulate the people of Southern Sudan who are determining their own destiny. This is an historic step in the years-long process to fully implement the Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended the civil war between north and south.

The international community is united and determined to ensure that all parties in Sudan live up to their obligations. We know that there are those who may try to disrupt the voting. Voters must be allowed access to polling stations, and must be able to cast their ballots free from intimidation and coercion.

All sides should refrain from inflammatory rhetoric or provocative actions that could raise tensions or prevent voters from expressing their will. Violence in the Abyei region should cease. And while a successful vote will be cause for celebration, an enormous amount of work remains to ensure the people of Sudan can live with security and dignity. The world will be watching in the coming days, and the United States will remain fully committed to helping the parties solve critical post-referendum issues regardless of the outcome of the vote.


U.S. Permanent Representative to the U.N. on Southern Sudan Referendum

Statement by Ambassador Susan E. Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, on the start of voting in Southern Sudan

Susan E. Rice
U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, NY

January 9, 2011


Today begins the hard-earned, historic opportunity for the people of Southern Sudan to decide their future. For generations, Southern Sudanese have endured chaos, oppression, conflict, and extreme poverty. The decades-long war between the North and South cost the lives of more than 2 million people and left millions more displaced. This war ended in 2005 with the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) and the promise that the people of the South would be able to determine whether they wished to remain part of Sudan or become independent. That long-awaited day has finally come.

The United States and countries around the world are watching the referendum carefully, with the expectation and determination that it be conducted peacefully, freely and credibly and that its results will be respected by all concerned parties.

I commend the CPA parties, who with the support of the international community, have made it possible for the referendum to begin on schedule. I salute the men and women of the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) who under the exceptional leadership of UN Special Representative HaileMenkerios have provided crucial support to the referendum process and continue to help protect the people of Southern Sudan. I also wish to thank the members of the UN Secretary-General’s Panel on the Referenda in Sudanand the thousands of domestic andthe international election observers who are active all over Sudan.

The United States is deeply committed to the full implementation of all aspects of the CPA, particularly the unresolved question of the future of Abyei and the many remaining post-referenda issues that must be resolved swiftly and fairly by the CPA parties. As always, the United States remains constantly focused on ending the ongoing conflict and genocide in Darfur where violence has recently intensified, leaving an estimated 40,000 civilians displaced in December alone.

It is my fervent hope that today's start of the referendum will mark an immutable milestone on the path to enduring peace and development for all of the people of Sudan.


Secretary Clinton on Southern Sudan's Referendum


Office of the Spokesman

For Immediate Releaase - January 9, 2011


The successful start of voting for the Southern Sudan Referendum represents a historic step towards implementation of Sudan’s Comprehensive Peace Agreement.

The people of Sudan deserve a process that is credible, peaceful and that ultimately reflects their will. Significant progress has been made in recent months towards preparing for the referendum, including the successful completion of voter registration and other technical arrangements. Going forward, the work of the many domestic and international observation and monitoring groups will be crucial and we look forward to their assessment.

We welcome the leadership shown by both parties to the CPA, including the commitment by President Bashir that his government will respect the outcome of the referendum. We also appreciate the parties’ acknowledgment of the importance of continued cooperation regardless of the outcome. This spirit will be important as the parties negotiate the post-referendum arrangements that will define their future relationship.

The United States is committed to the long-term security and prosperity of both north and south Sudan and we will continue to support the Sudanese people. We welcome the ongoing engagement of the international community as Sudan moves forward and we salute the strong leadership by the United Nations Mission in Sudan. We will work closely with all our international partners to maintain strong international support for the referendum process, successful implementation of the CPA, and a peaceful and prosperous future for all of the Sudanese people.

# # #

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

MCC Board Selects Eligible Countries, Approves $350 Million Compact for Malawi

Washington, D.C. — At its quarterly meeting today, the U.S. Government’s Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Board of Directors selected Ghana and Georgia as eligible to develop proposals for compacts, the second for each country, and approved a $350.7 million compact with the Government of Malawi.

“This was the first MCC Board Meeting since President Obama announced the U.S. Global Development Policy in September," said MCC Chief Executive Officer Daniel W. Yohannes. “MCC's approach to development, which focuses on economic growth, country ownership, sustainability, and accountability, directly aligns with the President’s strategy.”

“President Obama’s new policy, and MCC’s own strategic priorities announced early last year, including an emphasis on results, private sector engagement, gender integration, and effective policy reform, helped frame the Board’s discussion,” added Mr. Yohannes.

At the meeting, the Board selected Ghana and Georgia as eligible to develop proposals for new compacts. These second compacts are contingent on successful completion of first compacts, continued good policy performance, development of proposals that have significant potential to promote economic growth and reduce poverty, and availability of funding.

The Board also discussed the positive conclusion of the Honduras compact, noting that the experience exemplified the kind of implementation partnership MCC seeks. Mr. Yohannes stated, “MCC recognizes the positive steps taken by the Government of Honduras, as well as its strong commitment to reform and reconciliation. We look forward to continued engagement with the Government of Honduras and future consideration of the country for a second compact.”

The Board agreed that Cape Verde, Indonesia, and Zambia are eligible to continue the process of developing compacts in Fiscal Year 2011.

In addition to approving Malawi’s eligibility for FY2011 funding, the Board approved a $350.7 million compact with Malawi to support the Government of Malawi’s power sector reform agenda, as well as improve the availability, reliability, and quality of Malawi’s power supply by rehabilitating key power generation, transmission and distribution assets.

“MCC looks forward to continuing our work with Malawi as this compact program advances to implementation,” stated MCC CEO Daniel Yohannes. “Success of the program will depend on the Government of Malawi’s continued commitment to good governance, accountability, and transparency.”

MCC and the Government of Malawi expect nearly 6 million individuals to benefit from the compact during and after the five-year compact period. By statute, following MCC Board approval, there is a 15-day congressional notification period before a compact may be signed.

# # #

Millennium Challenge Corporation, a U.S. Government agency designed to work with developing countries, is based on the principle that aid is most effective when it reinforces sound political, economic, and social policies that promote poverty reduction through economic growth. For more information, please visit

Monday, January 3, 2011

Obama to Increase Engagement With Africa In 2011

Obama to Increase Engagement With Africa In 2011
January 1, 2011

By JULIE PACE, Associated Press

HONOLULU – President Barack Obama is quietly but strategically stepping up his outreach to Africa, using this year to increase his engagement with a continent that is personally meaningful to him and important to U.S. interests.Expectations in Africa spiked after the election of an American president with a Kenyan father. But midway through his term, Obama's agenda for Africa has taken a backseat to other foreign policy goals, such as winding down the Iraq war, fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan and resetting relations with Russia.Obama aides believe those issues are now on more solid footing, allowing the president to expand his international agenda. He will focus in Africa on good governance and supporting nations with strong democratic institutions.

Obama delivered that message on his only trip to Africa since taking office, an overnight stop in Ghana in 2009, where he was mobbed by cheering crowds. In a blunt speech before the Ghanaian parliament, Obama said democracy is the key to Africa's long-term development.

"That is the ingredient which has been missing in far too many places, for far too long," Obama said. "That is the change that can unlock Africa's potential. And that is a responsibility that can only be met by Africans." The White House says Obama will travel to Africa again and the political calendar means the trip will almost certainly happen this year, before Obama has to spend more time on his re-election bid. No decision has been made on which countries Obama will visit, but deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes said stops will reflect positive democratic models.

The administration is monitoring more than 30 elections expected across Africa this year, including critical contests in Nigeria and Zimbabwe.

"The U.S. is watching and we're weighing in," Rhodes said.John Campbell, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and a former U.S. ambassador to Nigeria, said the different elections give the Obama administration the opportunity to establish clear policies.

The administration "should be less willing to cut slack when those elections are less than free, fair and credible," Campbell said.

The White House can send that message right now as it deals with the disputed election in Ivory Coast and an upcoming independence referendum in Sudan, which could split Africa's largest country in two.

Rhodes said the president has invested significant "diplomatic capital" on Sudan, mentioning the referendum in nearly all of his conversations with the presidents of Russia and China, two countries which could wield influence over that Sudan's government.

When Obama stopped in at a White House meeting last month of his national security advisers and United Nations ambassadors, the first topic he broached was Sudan, not Iran or North Korea. And as lawmakers on Capitol Hill neared the December vote on a new nuclear treaty with Russia, Obama called southern Sudan leader Salva Kiir by telephone to offer support for the referendum.

White House officials believe the postelection standoff in Ivory Coast could be the model for Obama's stepped-up engagement in Africa.

The president tried to call incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo twice last month, from Air Force One as Obama returned from Afghanistan and then a week later. Neither call reached Gbagbo; administration officials believe the Ivorian leader sought to avoid contact. So Obama wrote Gbagbo a letter, offering him an international role if he stopped clinging to power and stepped down.

But Obama also made clear that the longer Gbagbo holds on, and the more complicit he becomes in violence across the country, the more limited his options become, said a senior administration official. The official insisted on anonymity to speak about administration strategy.

Rhodes said the White House understands that U.S. involvement in African politics can be viewed as meddling. But he said Obama can speak to African leaders with a unique level of candor, reflecting his personal connection to Africa and that his father and other family members have been affected by the corruption that plagues many countries there.

Officials also see increased political stability in Africa as good for long-term U.S. interests — a way to stem the growth of terrorism in east Africa and counterbalance China's growing presence on the continent.

The U.S. was caught off guard during the 2009 climate summit in Copenhagen when several African countries voted with China and not the U.S., the administration official said. The official said the administration must persuade African nations that their interests are better served by aligning with the U.S.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

President Obama's Statement on Terroist Attacks In Egypt & Nigeria


Office of the Press Secretary


Statement by the President on the terrorist attacks in Egypt and Nigeria

I strongly condemn the separate and outrageous terrorist bombing attacks in Egypt and Nigeria. The attack on a church in Alexandria, Egypt caused 21 reported deaths and dozens of injured from both the Christian and Muslim communities. The perpetrators of this attack were clearly targeting Christian worshipers, and have no respect for human life and dignity. They must be brought to justice for this barbaric and heinous act. We are continuing to gather information regarding this terrible event, and are prepared to offer any necessary assistance to the Government of Egypt in responding to it.

The attack near an army barracks in Abuja also reportedly killed more than 20 people and wounded many more. Killing innocent civilians who were simply gathering – like so many people around the world – to celebrate the beginning of a New Year further demonstrates the bankrupt vision of those who carry out these attacks, and we are similarly prepared to offer assistance to the Government of Nigeria as it works to bring the perpetrators to justice.

The United States extends its deepest condolences to the families of those killed and to the wounded in both of these attacks, and we stand with the Nigerian and Egyptian people at this difficult