U.S. Ambassador to South Sudan Susan Page has released a recorded message to the South Sudanese people, urging them not to lose sight of their dream of building a united and prosperous country, even in the wake of the violence that has wracked South Sudan for more than six weeks.
In the message, which was released in English and Juba Arabic, Page vowed that the U.S. government will continue to press for a national dialogue for South Sudan to "promote democracy and the interests of all South Sudanese people."
She also hailed agreements signed last week in Addis Ababa, one of which calls for an immediate end to the fighting that has killed thousands and displaced more than three-quarters of a million people, and the other which calls for the release of opposition politicians who were detained shortly after the violence broke out on Dec. 15, key steps toward building lasting peace in South Sudan.
Seven of the opposition politicians were released Wednesday, but the government said it has enough evidence to bring treason charges against the four still in detention and three opposition leaders who fled when the fighting began: former vice president Riek Machar, former Unity State governor Taban Deng Gai, who signed the peace agreements in Addis for the opposition, and former environment minister Alfred Lado Gore.
Page recorded her message during a recent visit to Washington to discuss the crisis in South Sudan with U.S. officials, think-tanks, NGOs and members of the South Sudanese diaspora.