Well, it’s great to see all of you. We’ve got a wonderful crowd of ministers, of high-level dignitaries. Ladies and gentlemen, on behalf of the United States, it’s really my honor to be up here today to host this event and invite you to the first forum of supporters of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.
I’d like to give a special welcome to my friend General Ward, from the Commander of AFRICOM. You know, I’ve had the honor and privilege of working with General Ward in several assignments, on the joint staff and over in Europe, and I’ve known that he has a passion for Africa. He worked in Egypt for a while and knows the continent. And we are looking forward to working closely with you, sir, and AFRICOM as we try to create an environment where the parties in Sudan can reach full implementation of the CPA.
Before we get started, let me just clean up some housekeeping items and let you know what today’s schedule is going to be. We’ll have a keynote address by General Lazarus Sumbeiywo, then we have the Deputy of State Jim Steinberg who is going to fill in for the Secretary. As you probably heard, she fell down and had to have some surgery and she’s had to cancel her meetings today. So Jim is the Deputy Secretary of State, the principal deputy, and he’ll be in her place today, and I’m sure that he’ll do a great job.
Then we have comments by the SPLM and the NCP, and we might have to move them around because there’s a pull-aside happening there. And then we’ll have remarks by the senior delegates. And we’ll just move around the table and give you an opportunity to talk until lunchtime. And lunchtime is just right down the hall. We’ll have (inaudible) Johnson as our luncheon speaker. And then we’ll start again at 1 pm, promptly, into the roundtable session. And this is a very important time where we’ll talk about governance and security and economics. And then we’ll try to get out of here before 5:30 this afternoon.
We will issue a joint communiqué. If you have any questions about that, you can see either Cameron Hudson or Tim Swerley if you have inputs or changes that you want to make to that. I just want to let you know we’ve had a very profitable time leading up to this event. We’ve had four days of talks between the SPLM and the NCP that have been very productive. We had an NGO forum where we had an opportunity to exchange views and have – answer questions with the panelists and representatives from the NGO community. We’ve also had a special envoy council, where special envoys who have been designated by their governments, had an opportunity to look at issues greater than just the CPA, things like Darfur and the peace agreements that are underway in Doha.
Then last night we had a kickoff dinner where Senator Kerry was our keynote speaker. And he clearly outlined the challenges that we all face today in terms of implementation of the CPA. He outlined the choices that have to be made by the parties and gave us a way ahead that was very clear. So we appreciate him being part of this kickoff event.
But I’d really like to welcome all of you here today. This really is a very special event, the first high-level conference of its type since the signing of the CPA back in 2005, and we thank you for coming from near and from far. And we have people that have arranged their schedule significantly to be part of this event, and we’re deeply grateful because this is a critical effort that’s occurring at a crucial time as we approach the final push to fully implement the CPA.
As all of you know well, the Governments of Southern Sudan and the Sudanese People Liberation Movement signed the CPA back in January of 2005 ending a 22-year civil war between the north and the south, and this CPA has resulted in a peace for over four years. But none of this would have been possible without the support of the international community. Without your tireless efforts and those representatives of your country. Some of the people sitting here today were out in Naivasha, were part of those negotiations, and witnessed, and some even signed that special document. Now, I want to thank you personally for your continued commitment to peace in Sudan.
Although much progress has been made in the past four and a half years, there’s still much that remains to be done. There’s still many things that remain unfulfilled and unimplemented, and that’s what we’re here to do today. With less than 19 months to go, our work is cut out for us and we have to set a foundation for Sudan for peace, security, and prosperity. But we cannot do it alone. It’s going to take everybody working together. And we’ll need your efforts once again, your commitments to ensure that we’re able to create an environment where the parties in Sudan can fully implement the CPA and achieve a long term, a lasting peace for their people.
Our time is short. We only have 164 days until the national election in February of 2010, and we only have 403 working days until the referenda in January of 2011, so time is urgent. It’s time to move forward. It’s time to work together to bring peace to this country that’s permanent and lasting.
And this morning to lay the foundation for today’s forum, we have a special guest, my friend, Lazarus Sumbeiywo. And I thank you, sir, for coming from Kenya to be with us. There’s no one more appropriate than you to kick off this event. You know, Lazarus was the chief negotiator and mediator at the Naivasha negotiations, and many of you know him from there. But his involvement started even eight years before this agreement was signed. As he was the chief of staff of the Kenyan military, he worked tirelessly to build bridges between parties, his dedicated efforts were central to achieving this transformational peace agreement, the one we just (inaudible) at the CPA today. And we all owe you a debt of gratitude, sir, for what you did, your efforts. You know, he worked very hard to get this, and it wasn’t easy. And he did it by having sessions with each side, called ventilation sessions. He listened to both sides and put forward countless proposals, many of them didn’t go anywhere. But he kept coming back day after day with dedicated efforts, tireless efforts that resulted finally in this wonderful document. Your positive manner, your tireless efforts, and your approach earned the admiration of all.
When Secretary Powell went to Naivasha to sign the agreement, he called General Sumbeiywo “my general.” It is my honor today to introduce to you our keynote speaker, our general, General Lazarus Sumbeiywo.
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