May 22, 2011

Kerry Statement on Sudan Developments

Washington, DC – Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) today released the following statement on the situation in Sudan:

“Sudan faces a test of leadership not a question of fate. At this very moment, Sudan stands ominously close to the precipice of war. Both sides must put an end to the recent provocations and quickly get back on course before the situation deteriorates any further. As I told President Kiir when I spoke with him on Friday, the unprovoked May 19th attack by Southern forces on a combined United Nations-Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) convoy was an unlawful and dangerous provocation, and I urged him to take responsibility for this action by his troops. That incident was serious, but Khartoum’s response in occupying much of Abyei and displacing untold numbers of civilians has been dangerously disproportionate and a violation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. The cumulative impact of this series of events threatens the lives of those on the ground, the peaceful separation between North and South, and any of Khartoum’s hopes for a new relationship with the United States. This is a moment both sides will long regret if they allow events to spiral out of control. They've made real progress, and the successful referendum was a powerful advance towards a more peaceful future. They must not go backwards now.”     

Chairman Kerry suggested several steps that should be taken as soon as possible, including:

  1. The cessation of all offensive operations by the Sudanese Armed Forces in Abyei and the withdrawal of the SAF from the area;
  2. The withdrawal of all unauthorized forces out of Abyei, as both sides promised to do in the Kadugli Agreements;
  3. The strengthening of the United Nations peacekeeping forces in Abyei;
  4. Clear statements from leaders on both sides to reduce tensions, assume responsibility, and pledge a renewed commitment to the peace process;
  5. The restoration of local political administration in Abyei;
  6. Safe access for humanitarian workers to reach civilians who have been displaced or wounded; and
  7. The resumption of direct talks between President Bashir and President Kiir to resolve the current crisis but also to continue critical negotiations to complete the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and to ensure peaceful separation for South Sudan on July 9th.

###

Press Contact

SFRC Press Office, 202-224-3468