Sudan: Obama steps up efforts ahead of independence referendum

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The Obama administration has assured it is working to ensure a peaceful Sudan after 2011, or an orderly path toward two separate and viable states — North Sudan and South Sudan — at peace with each other.

The January 9 referendum on whether the south should stay united with the north or secede from it has prompted the Obama administration to intensify its efforts to seek a definitive end to conflict, gross human rights abuses and the alleged genocide in Darfur; and ensure that Sudan does not become a safe haven for terrorists.

To this end, President Obama deployed US special envoy Scott Gration on on his 20th trip to Sudan. Gration who arrived Sudan over the weekend told Sudanese officials that the country could obtain “potential incentives” if it meets its obligations under the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that ended a 22-year civil war between the north and south.

“The Obama administration is pressing the parties to facilitate the peaceful and on-time conduct of the referenda, to respect their results, to resolve key remaining post-referenda issues, and for the government of Sudan to end the conflict in Darfur,” a statement from the State Department read.

North and south Sudan have continued to recover from a decade-long civil conflict, fueled by ethnicity, ideology, religion and resources such as oil, which left an estimated two million people dead.

In Darfur, minority rebels revolted against the central government in 2003, and since then about 2.7 million people have fled their homes from the fighting, with over 300,000 people losing their lives according to United Nations estimations.

The United States State Department has indicated that there are a range of consequences that will be deployed if the situation in Sudan deteriorates or fails to make progress, including additional sanctions.

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