Katie Grant, 202-225-3130
WASHINGTON, DC - Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) spoke today at the "Sudan After the Referendum" Reception hosted by American Jewish World Service, Humanity United, The Enough Project and Save Darfur/ Genocide Intervention Network. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
"We’re here today to recognize an historic moment for the people of Southern Sudan. Last week, we learned the results of the independence referendum in Southern Sudan, which showed that an overwhelming majority voted to secede from the north.
"It’s promising news. It is an opportunity for all the people of Sudan to put to rest the legacy of Africa’s bloodiest civil war. For the people of Southern Sudan, in particular, this is a moment of great hope—hope for an end to civil strife, hope for security, hope that they and their families will have a chance to live in peace. We owe our thanks to all those who made this referendum possible and saw that it was carried out peacefully: the people of Southern Sudan, the international community, humanitarian organizations, and those in our own government who worked hard to bring about the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. I am grateful to all of you for your role in this.
"But this is not the end of the story for Southern Sudan—it is only the beginning, which makes this a time of great challenge as well. It will take years of hard work to establish a stable nation in Southern Sudan. The United States and the international community are part of that work: we must help ensure that both the birth and infancy of this new nation are a success. And we must hold the Sudanese regime in Khartoum to its commitments: to live up to the word it gave in signing the CPA, and to work peacefully with the South to resolve the concerns that still remain, for there are many.
"Finally, we come here well aware that, even as the world’s attention is fixed on Southern Sudan, the people of Darfur continue to suffer. Khartoum understands that all too well: when the world’s attention is elsewhere, it has a freer hand to violate human rights. And so we’re also here today to reiterate our commitment to Darfur and to the Darfuri people, who continue to suffer.
"We must continue to fight for a viable peace process, for continued humanitarian access, and for independent human rights monitoring. Even at this time of hope for Southern Sudan, we cannot forget these obligations.
"Thank you for helping to remind America of those obligations—and thank you for your hard work on behalf of the people of Sudan."