February 7, 2011 (WASHINGTON) – The United States on Monday congratulated Sudan over its official endorsement of the South’s referendum vote which came overwhelmingly in favor of creating the world’s newest state.
The Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir signed a decree today spelling out the North’s acceptance of the outcome ending months of speculation by observers and the international community on the possibility that the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) might drag its feet on certifying the vote.
Bashir’s party has warned last year that it has set its own threshold of transparency and credibility under which it will decide to accept the results. It accused the Sudan People Liberation Movement (SPLM) of orchestrating the voter registration process to ensure that separation is the outcome.
Khartoum now is eyeing the valuable prize of being taken off Washington’s list of states that sponsor terrorism which also includes Syria, Iran and Cuba.
Countries on the list of state sponsors of terrorism cannot receive U.S. aid or buy U.S. weapons and a raft of restrictions on financial and other dealings.
Last year senior U.S. officials pledged to Sudan that it will immediately begin the de-listing process as soon as referendum results are endorsed. Today the U.S. administration said it will keep its promise.
“As I pledged in September when addressing Sudanese leaders, the United States will continue to support the aspirations of all Sudanese—north and south, east and west. We will work with the governments of Sudan and Southern Sudan to ensure a smooth and peaceful transition to independence,” said a statement by U.S. president Barack Obama.
“For those who meet all of their obligations, there is a path to greater prosperity and normal relations with the United States, including examining Sudan’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism. And while the road ahead will be difficult, those who seek a future of dignity and peace can be assured that they will have a steady partner and friend in the United States”.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton officered more details in her remarks today saying that Washington is initiating the process of withdrawing Sudan’s state sponsor of terrorism designation, the first step of which is initiating a review of that designation.
However, Clinton appeared to be attaching more conditions to this than a simple recognition of referendum by the NCP.
“Removal of the State Sponsor of Terrorism designation will take place if and when Sudan meets all criteria spelled out in U.S. law, including not supporting international terrorism for the preceding six months and providing assurance it will not support such acts in the future, and fully implements the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, including reaching a political solution on Abyei and key post-referendum arrangements,” Clinton said.
The North and South are nowhere near settling post-referendum arrangements such as citizenship, oil sharing, border demarcation, water, national debt and international agreements.
There is also the long-standing dispute over the border region of Abyei which has missed its own referendum scheduled for last January to decide on whether it should join the North or South. Both sides are in disagreement over who should be eligible to vote to determine the fate of the oil-producing district.
The head of the foreign relations committee in the U.S. senate John Kerry today urged the immediate review of Sudan’s terrorism designation.
“Now that Sudan has taken these important steps, we should begin this review,” said the Democratic lawmaker, a former presidential candidate who heads the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee and is close to the White House.
“Its results will be dictated by Sudanese actions and the requirements of U.S. law, but I am extremely hopeful that just as North and South Sudan have embarked on a new relationship, Khartoum is attempting to redefine its relationship with the United States and the rest of the international community,” said Kerry.