Chairman Kerry On The Independence Of The Republic Of South Sudan

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Washington, DC – This morning, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) issued the following statement congratulating the Republic of South Sudan on its independence:

“Today the world witnessed the birth of new nation, and I am pleased to extend my heartfelt congratulations to the people of the Republic of South Sudan on this historic day.  But while we celebrate their moment, we must also recognize that North and South Sudan have yet to achieve the kind of peace that will lead to mutual prosperity and stability.  Both countries are fragile and will remain vulnerable until they reach the kind of agreement that allows them to work together.

As people dance for joy in Juba, bombs continue to fall in Southern Kordofan and people continue to languish in camps in Darfur.  Northern Sudan must come to terms not only with its southern neighbor but with its own challenges.  The path to peace follows the roadmap to a new relationship with the United States as well, which I hope to see become a reality.  The elements have been laid clear: adherence to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, the resolution of Abyei and other issues, and progress in Darfur.  Khartoum took a giant step in the right direction by recognizing Southern Sudan as a new nation.  While Khartoum is losing territory, it has the opportunity to reenter the international community, with the benefits of debt relief and trade that can together outweigh the economic costs of separation.  But it cannot achieve those victories if it chooses to wage war against its own people.

When I was in Juba on January 9th, millions of Southern Sudanese stood in line for hours to cast their votes for independence.  Person after person told me that they did not mind the wait; they had been waiting, they said, for 50 years -- what were a few more hours?  Today their wait is over and we can all celebrate their triumph even as we acknowledge that much remains to be done.

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