President Obama, myself, and his entire national security team invested significant energy into thinking through the right person to serve as the President’s new Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan, because we know how critical America’s commitment will be in helping create the conditions for lasting peace and security in Sudan and South Sudan.
The appointment of Ambassador Don Booth, a seasoned Foreign Service Officer, represents an important addition to our diplomatic team, bringing nearly three decades of experience working on some of Africa’s most pressing challenges, most recently as our Ambassador in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Don knows what a pivotal moment this is for the region, and he is determined to help ensure it’s a moment to move forward instead of slipping backwards back into the cycle of violence, conflict, and mistrust.
While the ultimate choices reside with these two nations, the United States will do everything we can to support those working for peace and we will speak with candor about those whose actions undermine those hopes.
This cause is personal to me, and I know it is deeply personal to President Obama and my colleague Susan Rice. I’ve seen firsthand how invested the President and his Administration have been in the work to help move the region forwards. When I was a Senator, I had the privilege of supporting the diplomatic effort that led to South Sudan’s independence, and on the ground leading up to the historic referendum I witnessed the long lines of people voting for a better way of life.
None of those brave people voted to create a failed state or to return to the violence that has plagued their home for too long. If both states put their people first by governing inclusively and democratically, protecting human rights, and creating economic opportunity, they can make progress on realizing the future their people deserve. This is a decisive period.
Khartoum and Juba can choose the path of peace and prosperity, or they can go backwards.
The President’s appointment today of Ambassador Booth as our Special Envoy underscores the United States’ enduring commitment to the people of Sudan and South Sudan, and to the cause of peace between and within their two countries.