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The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release

Statement by National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice on South Sudan Independence Day

To view National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice’s video message, click HERE.

I want to convey my greetings and that of President Obama and the United States of America to you, the people of South Sudan, on the occasion of the fourth anniversary of your hard-won independence.

I remember so vividly the joy the world felt four years ago welcoming South Sudan into the community of nations.  I remember the pride I personally felt standing in that huge crowd in Juba with my thirteen year-old son and the people of South Sudan to celebrate the end of a decades-long civil war and the birth of the world’s newest nation. I remember the hope and unity of that day—the promise of a new beginning for you, who had suffered so much and persevered for so long.  Four years later, those happy memories are a horrifying reminder of all that has been lost.

It breaks my heart to see what South Sudan has become today.

Massive and widespread violence has returned.  Human rights abuses are rampant.  The Government and rebels are committing appalling crimes against innocent women, children, and the elderly.  President Kiir and Riek Machar and their cronies are personally responsible for this new war and self-inflicted disaster.  And only leaders on both sides can end this violence.

Yet, President Kiir and Riek Machar would rather haggle over personal power and wealth than agree on solutions.  Meanwhile, you, the people of South Sudan, continue to suffer.  Almost half of South Sudan’s population is now dependent on the international community for its very survival, and more than two million people have been displaced from their homes.

Over the past 19 months, the government has abdicated its responsibilities, failed to protect its citizens, and squandered its legitimacy.  Instead of negotiating a resolution to the conflict, it has subverted democracy and unilaterally extended its mandate.  As the violence drags on, the conflict not only scars the lives of innocent South Sudanese, it threatens to destabilize the wider region.

Through all these challenges, your neighbors, our regional partners, have gone to great lengths to try to bring the warring parties together and forge an end to this conflict.  The United States continues to support these efforts.  The path ahead is clear.  Violence will not bring about a solution.  The South Sudanese parties must establish immediately a transitional government that can serve with legitimacy and represent the needs of the people of South Sudan.

Before independence, when the war was at its height, I visited with people across the country.  In Marial Bai, in Rumbek, in Lui—I heard people describe how war was devastating their lives and tearing their families apart.  Ordinary people had endured years of suffering and uncertainty, but they still strove to forge a brighter future for their children.  That is the choice the leaders of South Sudan must make now.  The United States will not abandon the people of South Sudan and their right to live freely and at peace in their own country. We will continue to stand with all those who dream of a better tomorrow.  The United States will continue to work hard to help you to achieve lasting peace and justice.  We will hold accountable those who abuse the people of South Sudan.  And, the United States along with the international community, will punish those determined to drive South Sudan into the abyss.

May God Bless your young country and the people of South Sudan.