We are very concerned by the continuing insecurity in South Sudan as a result of tribal violence and continuing activity by the Lord’s Resistance Army.
While attending the UN General Assembly in New York last month, my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary discussed the situation in South Sudan with Sudanese presidential adviser Ghazi. Our ambassador to Sudan visited Juba on 28-30 September 2009 and raised UK concerns about the security situation with the Government of South Sudan’s Interior Minister and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army chief of staff.
These messages were reinforced when my hon. Friend the Minister of State for International Development (Mr. Thomas) visited Sudan on 14-15 October 2009. He discussed our concerns at the security situation with Government of South Sudan interlocutors in Juba.
We have had extensive discussions on the political situation and prospects for Sudan with the US Special Envoy, Major-General Scott Gration, since his appointment in March 2009. The US Envoy had several meetings in the early summer with my noble Friend, the then Minister for Africa, Asia and the UN, Lord Malloch-Brown and continues to meet regularly with the UK special representative for Sudan. They met most recently in Moscow on 6 October 2009 and in Abuja on 29 October 2009.
Both US Envoy Gration, and the UK special representative have strongly expressed their support for African Union/UN Chief Mediator Djibril Bassolé and the State of Qatar in their efforts to finding a political solution for Darfur, and stand ready to offer all necessary assistance.
The UK, US and Norway have in recent months re-established the Troika mechanism as part of the international effort on Sudan. Officials from the UK, US and Norway are currently in Sudan to discuss Comprehensive Peace Agreement implementation issues with the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement and the National Congress Party.
My hon. Friend the Minister of State for International Development (Mr. Thomas) visited Khartoum and Juba on 14-15 October 2009 and met with senior members of the National Congress Party (NCP) and Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), including presidential adviser Ghazi, and Southern Minister of Internal Affairs Geir Chuang. He pressed them to take urgent steps to resolve the impasse over the census and referendum.
Our ambassador and other senior Government officials, and the chair of the Assessment and Evaluation Commission, Sir Derek Plumbly, regularly raise these issues with NCP and SPLM interlocutors. Officials from the UK, US and Norway are currently in Sudan to discuss Comprehensive Peace Agreement implementation issues with the SPLM and NCP.
We are committed to a free and fair referendum in 2011. The eligibility criteria and content of the Referendum Bill are for the parties to reach agreement over, and we urge both parties to do so urgently.