Exactly 9 years ago the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that ended more than two decades of civil war in Sudan was signed and relative but precarious peace finally prevailed in the country. Exactly 3 years ago South Sudanese lined up in great numbers to exercise their right to self-determination, which was a core provision of the CPA. The self-determination clause grants South Sudanese the right to choose in a popular vote to remain as part of a united Sudan or declare a sovereign and independent state in the South of Sudan.
However, the preparation for the self-determination process was riddled with many challenges, unmet deadlines and obstructionist policies practiced by Khartoum aimed at derailing the process and ultimately preventing it from happening all together. By December, 2010 when the CPA was about to expire, some of us did what we could within our resources and capacity to raise awareness on the significance of the Southern referenda and the importance of full implementation of the CPA. Our strategy was to pile pressure on U.S. lawmakers and policymakers to take action by mobilizing their constituencies within our area of influence.
We thus campaigned to raise awareness in colleges and university campuses in the U.S. Sure enough our policy advocacy campaigns ultimately came to the attention of the White House where we were invited, met with and debriefed Ambassador Samantha Power who was then a senior advisor to the Obama administration on multilateral affairs about our efforts and the importance of proactive action to halt tragedies. We then delivered a petition signed by thousands of students urging the Obama administration to see to it that South Sudanese are allowed to express their will through a referendum exercise that must be held in a timely, credible and transparent fashion.
We replicated the same feat in the Capitol Hill and submitted another copy of the petition to the U.S. Senate and the Congressional House, before we proceeded to brief the office of the U.S. Special Envoy to the Sudan, the then Princeton Layman at the State Department on the same impending crisis if the Southern referendum failed to be exercised. Today, January 9th, 2014, I regret to have been a part of any of that because what we worked for was for South Sudanese to live in peace, freedom and dignity. We did not work for digging mass graves for our people in helping to create the present violent South Sudan as a Sovereign and Independent State. I therefore appeal to our “leaders” to end this violence immediately or South Sudan’s history will never forgive them.