Mr. LYNCH. Mr. Speaker, it is with an immense sense of hope that I rise today to congratulate the people of South Sudan on the eve of their independence.
South Sudan has overcome incredible devastation brought on by decades of violence and famine that killed and displaced millions. After years of brutal fighting, the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement signed a peace agreement in January 2005 that finally ended the civil war. And in January of this year the people of the south, by an overwhelming margin of 98.8 per cent to 1.17 per cent, peacefully voted for independence. The joy on the voters' faces as they cast their ballots, their hopes for the future, and their unshakeable resolve to determine their own fate was nothing short of inspirational.
South Sudan will face many challenges. There are still major issues to be addressed such as its frayed relations with Khartoum, the dispute over Abyei and the lack of agreement on borders, citizenship rights and other matters. In addition, there is the extremely worrisome violence that has grown in recent weeks in the northern border state of Southern Kordofan which has forced tens of thousands to flee. These tests will be difficult but I have no doubt that the people of South Sudan will continue to demonstrate the courage and strength of spirit that has brought them this far to take on these challenges. As they do so, the people of the United States will continue to support and stand by them as they build their new country.
However, tomorrow will be a day for celebrating a new nation that was able to overcome adversity and rise out of the ashes of genocide and civil war. On behalf of the people of the Ninth District of Massachusetts, I wish to extend my deepest congratulations to the people of South Sudan.