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Urging Peace in South Sudan

Reinforcing President Obama’s strong message encouraging South Sudan’s leaders to choose peace, National Security Advisor Susan Rice records an audio message for the people of South Sudan.

Reinforcing President Obama’s strong message encouraging South Sudan’s leaders to choose peace, today National Security Advisor Susan Rice recorded an audio message for the people of South Sudan.  In it she reinforces the importance that South Sudan not allow the new country it fought so hard for to be torn apart by violence and suffering.  She again calls on Sudan’s leaders to renounce violence, end the fighting, and commit to peaceful dialogue, and reiterates the United States’ support for a peaceful, democratic, unified South Sudan.

Listen to the message below, or download as an mp3.

Hello.  This is Susan Rice, National Security Advisor to President Barack Obama.  Today, I want to speak directly to you—the people of South Sudan. 

For the better part of 20 years, I’ve had the privilege of working alongside you as you sought your independence and built a new nation.  When the war was at its height, I visited with people across your country—in Marial Bai and Rumbek and Lui.  You told me about how the conflict was affecting your lives and your families.  And, when I was the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, I was honored to share your stories with the world and to support your struggle for independence.

Then, two years ago, on July 9th, 2011, I was so proud to speak to you on behalf of President Obama and the American people when finally you celebrated your hard-won independence.  I remember so clearly the overwhelming joy and the spirit of unity that day—how you came together as one people to begin building a new nation, founded on your shared democratic values.   

But the violence we’re seeing now is a grave threat to your young nation.  Continued fighting—and the specter of ethnic violence—could tear apart the nation you so painstakingly knit together.  We know all too well what horrors can occur when irresponsible provocateurs pit tribe against tribe and brother against brother. 

We’ve seen the devastation in Bosnia, Rwanda and so close to home in Darfur.  As a longstanding friend of the people of South Sudan, I urge everyone to step back from conflict and instead address your differences through peaceful dialogue.   

In recent years, you’ve overcome incredible odds and shown the world that you can break the cycle of violence; that through careful and constant work, you can give birth to a new nation that respects the rights of all its peoples.  That’s what you, the South Sudanese people, died for and then so peacefully voted for:  an independent, peaceful and unified nation with a better future.  And that’s the promise that young people and religious leaders and community elders across South Sudan are calling for their leaders to live up to now. 

The United States joins these calls for peace.  We urge leaders on all sides to publicly renounce violence, end the fighting, and commit to peaceful dialogue.  Ethnic violence must cease immediately.  Those who have committed acts of violence against civilians must be held accountable.  And those who seek to achieve their goals at the barrel of a gun must understand that international legitimacy and support cannot be gained through conflict. 

For all those who choose the path of peace and democracy, know that the United States will continue to stand with you, as we have at every step of your journey.  But, I must also be clear:  if a different choice is made, if individuals or groups seek to take or hold power through force, mass violence, or intimidation, the United States will have no choice but to withdraw our traditional, robust support.  Killing will only lead to deprivation and isolation for the people of South Sudan.    

I know how much you have already endured and how far you have come, but please remember: democracy is always hard work.  Reconciliation always takes time.  You have to keep working at it each and every day through dialogue and compromise.  And the choices you make today will determine the future of your country.  You can choose whether your children will live in a nation of peace and growing prosperity or one scarred by resumed conflict.  As someone who has always stood with you to imagine a better future for you and your families, I ask each of you to make the choice for peace—make the choice for a unified and cohesive South Sudan.  Make this choice for yourselves and your children.  Thank you.