News / Africa

HOLD DO NOT PUBLISH New US Ambassador to South Sudan Tells Juba To Create A Democratic Space

John Tanza

The first US Ambassador to South Sudan said the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) needs to open a democratic space to allow other parties take part in the nation building process in the Country.  Susan Page was nominated by President Barrack Obama early in August and was appointed to Juba in October.

Ambassador Page acknowledged that the problems facing Juba are not unique to the people of South Sudan.  She expressed confidence that the people of  Africa's new nation will work hard to overcome the various challenges facing them.

She said the country has what she called  the goodwill of the international community. '' I feel as this is not a completely new place, but they are starting off with a bonus of being a new country with a lot of goodwill, but a lot of challenges ahead of them'' she added.

Outstanding Post Independent Issues.

Susan Page's posing to South Sudan in early December comes at a time when Juba and Khartoum seemed to be stuck in a deadlock on wealth sharing. Sudan government threatened to  halted  South Sudan's oil exports in a transit fee row, and Khartoum confiscated crude shipments to make up for payments it claims South Sudan owes. Talks aimed at solving the discrepancies over oil industry failed in the Ethiopian capital.

Ambassador Page admitted that the National Congress Party and Sudan People’s Liberation Movement have exerted  little snergy to address the post independent issues.  She said, her attention will be focused on working  with the US embassy in Khartoum to encourage the two parties embark on serious negotiations to resolve the remaining sticky post independence issues.

Good Governance, Corruption and Rule of Law

South Sudan has a booming business potentiality that is attracting many investors after the country declared independence in July. Ambassador Page warned that Juba needs to create a stable environment to encourage investment. '' I feel as if South Sudan is open for business, and if they can make the country appealing to investors, if they can get corruption under control,  open the country to other political parties'' the country  can to become a really first century country with opportunities of  development for its people, she said

The new envoy also urged the government in Juba to open up the democratic space to allow other political parties to openly express their views on matters to do with the future of South Sudan.  She said her priority will be to work with civil societies, Human Rights Groups and the United Nations Mission in South Sudan to push the government in Juba on the issues of corruption and good governance.  ''Corruption is a problem, they have acknowledged it, they have asked for our assistance and we have several advisors working with them'' Ambassador Paged explained''.

She further urged Juba to critically make some progress on the new the interim constitution of South Sudan by including other political parties and the opposition. The US diplomat added that her country will work with Juba to ensure that the leaders maintain a civilian control of the army and the institutions of national intelligence.  She warned that time will come when the people of South Sudan will vote out leaders who are not servicing their people.

The US Opens  South Sudan's Oil Sector

The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced in a December 8, 2011 Federal Register Notice that it was lifting economic sanctions that had prohibited U.S. Persons from dealings with the petroleum and petrochemical sector in the Republic of South Sudan. Sanctions were were imposed in 1997 because of the benefit the Government of Sudan receivesfrom   crude oil that makes its way  to market at Port  Sudan via pipelines through Sudan – and the Government of Sudan receives some benefit from this process.

The amendments to the Sudan Sanctions Regulations, 31 CFR Part 538, authorized U.S. citizens and companies, to engage in “all activities and transactions relating to the petroleum and petrochemical industries in the Republic of South Sudan.” This new general license  permits involvement in exploration, development, production and investment in the petroleum and petrochemical industries in South Sudan. However, the regulation explicitly allows American participation in downstream activities, including the refining, sale and transport of petroleum from South Sudan, so long as the petroleum is not refined in Sudan.

Prior to her appointment to US embassy in South Sudan, Ambassador Page also served as Regional Director for Southern and East Africa at the National Democratic Institute. From 2005 to 2007, she served as the Director of the Rule of Law and Judicial System Advisory Unit at the United Nations Peace Support Mission to the Sudan. From 2002 to 2005, Page was the legal advisor to the Intergovernmental Authority on Development Secretariat for Peace in the Sudan.

Listen: John Tanza Interview with Ambassador Susan Page



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