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South Sudanese Official Praises Obama's Candor

  • Kelly J. Kelly

Luka Biong Deng, co-chairman of the Abyei Joint Oversight Committee and a former Sudanese government minister, said he was impressed with U.S. President Barack Obama's acceptance speech Thursday at the Democratic National Convention in the U.S. state of North Carolina.

Deng attended the three-day convention as a guest of the National Democratic Institute (NDI).

"I was so impressed by his accepting that the path for [economic] recovery is very daunting and very challenging, and recognizing in the last four years there have been some mistakes," Deng said.

Deng noted that at the same time, President Obama tried to share a hopeful future.

The president’s speech was not limited to domestic issues, and to Deng's delight Obama mentioned South Sudan in a list of foreign policy achievements.

“From Burma to Libya to South Sudan, we have advanced the rights and dignity of all human beings, men and women, Christians and Muslims and Jews,” President Obama said.

Deng said that while he was happy that South Sudan received special notice, he thought it was fitting that Africa received some attention.

"Africa is going to emerge as a challenge for his second term, if it’s coming," Deng said. "Because Africa is a fast growing economy now… I think the test for the U.S. government is to see ... [South] Sudan prosper and be democratic and play a very important role in the region and on the continent."

Yet, Deng is not convinced it will make much of a difference to South Sudan whether Barack Obama or his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, is elected president on November 6.

Deng said the Republicans are likely to be clear with how they are going to deal with the regime in Sudan, the country from which South Sudan separated in 2011 and whose president, Omar al-Bashir, is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes in Darfur.

Deng said he would like to see Washington do more to see South Sudan develop as a strong, economically viable country.

But Deng concluded that both U.S. parties "have a very clear commitment in seeing solidarity with the people in the South."