Sudan ambassador speaks in Juneau

John Ukec Lueth Ukec leads forum on peace process in war-torn country

Posted: Thursday, December 07, 2006

John Ukec Lueth Ukec spent most of his life fighting the former rulers of Sudan.

But when he came to Juneau on Wednesday, he represented the country's new government.

As the newly appointed ambassador to the U.S. from the Republic of

Sudan, he is traveling throughout the United States to educate people about the Government of National Unity and the changes being made in his country.

Ambassador Ukec came to Juneau to speak at a forum sponsored by the Juneau World Affairs Council. His main message was to thank the people of the United States for their support in the peace process in his country and to ask for continued support to implement the peace plan.

"(The Comprehensive Peace Agreement) was established in a way that both north and south, east and west participate in the governance," he said.

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"This is most crucial thing. We want to sustain it. We want to back it up. We want to make everybody who is peace-loving to put their hand and their mind to it and help us out."

At 15 years old, Ukec was a soldier in the Christian-dominated southern Sudanese army. He fought as a guerrilla from camps in the forests, eventually becoming a brigadier general in the Sudanese Army.

Today, almost two years after the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in January 2005, he is part of the country's new government.

His appointment as ambassador is a testament that the Government of National Unity is attempting to incorporate all factions from all regions in the worn-torn country, he said.

Ukec pointed out that in 50 years of fighting, most of his country's resources have been spent on war materials. Development has been stifled or stopped. He said Sudan needs hospitals, bridges, schools, clinics, roads and removal of land mines to improve the quality of life.

"If there is no resolve, people will be frustrated and maybe we will go back to war again ... I am envisioning in my mind the ability to mobilize tractors, planes, bulldozers, things like that, cement and all those things. Put them down, like what Jimmy Carter does with Habitat For Humanity. Build these places so quickly so that the (Sudanese people) know that people are serious and that people care about them. And that there is no going back to war."

Ukec was asked Wednesday about the humanitarian crisis in Darfur.

"The Darfur situation, to some extent, has been resolved, in terms of one faction, the largest faction of those who are fighting. They have made an agreement with the Government of National Unity. Their leader, he's now in a very important position as assistant to the president of the republic."

Asked about the rebel factions that are still warring in the region, he said the remaining rebels are not satisfied with the power and wealth-sharing offer that has been extended to them. They want to be autonomous and they want their enemies, the janjaweed, to be disarmed.

Ukec said he believes that with support in communications, transportation, logistical and technical advice, the African Union will be able to help remove the instability prevailing in the region.

"I believe if we are given a chance to do that, my Government of National Unity will be able to succeed and resolve the problem," he said.

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