Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told the United Nations Security Council Tuesday that it will take "courage and skill" for Sudan's leaders to implement the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, but stressed that no outsider can dictate events on the ground.
"The world expects these steps, and the courage to change will be rewarded by the international community and the United States," Clinton said.
Clinton's comments come in the midst of a massive voter registration effort for a January referendum that would allow the East African nation's autonomous southern region to secede from the north. The referendum is considered a possible make-or-break event in the 2005 peace agreement, which ended the two-decade conflict that lead to the deaths of 2 million people in Sudan.
The peace agreement also calls for a separate referendum for residents of Abyei, a border area that has oil reserves, to decide if they want to join the north or south. The southern region holds a majority of the nation's oil.
"Holding this referendum and resolving the status of Abyei represent the promise of self-determination made to the Sudanese people," Clinton said. "They are promises that must be kept."
The vote also could be a factor as U.S. officials decide whether to remove Sudan from its list of state sponsors of terrorism.