Former U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan, Andrew Natsios, has told a VOA panel that Western governments need to stop predicting the new Republic of South Sudan will be a “fragile state.” Speaking at a VOA hosted event titled South Sudan: Building a New Nation, Natsios said the organization of a new country would take many years, and it was “not realistic” that such a major undertaking could take place overnight.
Natsios appeared at the event Thursday along with Ezekiel Gatkuoth, the Government of Southern Sudan’s representative to the United States, and John Tanza Mabusu, the co-host of Sudan In Focus, VOA’s weekday radio program to the region, which voted overwhelmingly to break away from Khartoum in a January independence referendum.
Southern Sudan representative Ezekiel Gatkuoth acknowledged that the security situation in the south was still “very unfortunate.” He said there were difficult economic and territorial issues that need to be worked out, but he said the south was committed to “using dialogue” to resolve the issues.
Natsios, now a Distinguished Professor at Georgetown University and former USAID Administrator, urged the U.S. government to establish a large embassy in South Sudan after independence on July 9, that could “help transform the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) into a modern military force” which could provide stability to the region. Natsios also called on Washington to establish a free trade agreement, and he said security guarantees were needed to, “send a signal to destabilizing forces.”
Asked about the so-called “Jasmine Revolution” that has toppled governments in Tunisia and Egypt, Natsios said the Khartoum government should abandon plans to amend Sudan’s constitution in an effort to impose Islamic law. Addressing the fact that Africans in the north will be a minority once the south gets independence, he said the north is going to destabilize the region if they “insist on Arabizing” the country.
John Tanza Mabusu, the co-host of VOA’s Sudan In Focus, urged the new government in south Sudan to establish a legal framework that would ensure fair and equal access for the media.
Sudan In Focus is available online at www.voanews.com/sudan and on affiliate Liberty 88.7 FM in Juba and 90.0 FM in Yei, and on shortwave frequencies, 9785, 11905, and 13635. For all the latest news, visit our main page at www.voanews.com.