Salva Kiir

Fellow Citizens, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am privileged and pleased to address you today, the 9th of July 2017, to recognize the 6th Anniversary of the Independence of our Country; the Republic of South Sudan. Of course our independence day is the most important, historical, and costly event of our lifetime. Millions of our beloved people lost their precious lives in order for us to enjoy the freedom and independence we have today.

I, therefore, wish to salute and congratulate the people of South Sudan, for their sacrifices without which we would never have achieved our independence.
As your President, it is also my humble honour to pay tribute to our late leader, Dr. John Garang de Mabior, and all the brave men and women of this great land whose martyrdom bestowed upon us the independence of our country.

Fellow Citizens, Ladies and Gentlemen,

My government and I owe you an explanation as to why for the second year running you will not have a public celebration during this 6th Independence Day. We had to make the painful decision for us to only observe this Independence Day in recognition of the reality of the economic challenges our country is facing.
We did not feel that it was appropriate to spend whatever little funds we may have to celebrate when our people are hugely affected by the economic crisis that has made it difficult for many people to afford even one meal per day. Although the famine, which was declared in some parts of our country, has now been contained, still thousands of our citizens are under threat of food insecurity. It is therefore our sincere hope that you will understand our reasoning and pledge to work with us to return our country to economic recovery and growth.

Fellow Citizens, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Now allow me to take the opportunity of this Independence Day to update you on the state of affairs in our country. In December last year, while I was declaring my intention to embark on the National Dialogue, I assured you that the year 2017 would be a year of peace. Indeed, it remains my conviction to restore peace in South Sudan, despite the many challenges that may lie ahead.

As a gesture of good will and to promote peace and tranquility, which is necessary for our citizens to move freely and safely, I declared a unilateral ceasefire and general amnesty. I am encouraged that the general security situation in the country has improved. The ambushes and skirmishes that were daily occurrences have substantially diminished and are now sporadic. In addition to the unilateral ceasefire, my government is reaching out to the different armed groups in our country, calling on them to renounce violence and embrace peace through the National Dialogue.

I am glad to report to you that some of the armed rebel groups across the country have accepted our call for peace through the National Dialogue and have largely abandoned rebellion. In response, the government has accepted to integrate these forces under the framework of the 2015 Peace Agreement. We must give our citizens the necessary respite to live in peace and be more productive economically this year. This can only happen when all parties to the conflict accept and honour the ceasefire.
Today, I want to repeat our call on the armed groups to reciprocate the ceasefire we have declared and respect the cessation of hostilities agreement and allow us to achieve a permanent ceasefire.
We will continue to call upon those who are still carrying arms and persuade them to respond. It is no longer justifiable to fight on as this only leads to the loss of innocent lives, the destruction of properties, and delays in building our country. War is not an option.

Fellow Citizens, Ladies and Gentlemen,

The only viable option is for us to implement the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan, which was signed in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on the 17th of August 2015 and in Juba, South Sudan, on the 26th of August 2015, respectively. That is why it is important for the parties to the agreement to persevere in its implementation. Meanwhile other armed groups and disgruntled entities should get on board and embrace the national dialogue as a forum to make their case.
So far, we have satisfactorily progressed in the implementation of the Agreement. About 90% of Chapter I, on the Transitional Government of National Unity, has been implemented. On Chapter II, dealing with the Permanent Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements, about 54% has been implemented. The challenge in this important chapter is the full establishment and funding of the Cantonment Areas and the threat by anti-peace elements that attack and kill those who want to report to the cantonment areas.

Progress is also being made in the implementation of the other important sections of the Agreement concerned with humanitarian assistance, economic management and institutional reform. This has improved our relationship with JMEC, IGAD, African Union and some member countries of the international community.

Recently, during the 29th Session of the Assembly of the Heads of State and Government of the African Union, we agreed to a proposal for IGAD and its partners to address the challenges hindering the speedy implementation of the Agreement. We remain committed to work with IGAD and its partners to fully implement the Agreement.

The National Dialogue will complement the implementation of the peace Agreement so that we have political stability in our country. This is critical so that we can focus on achieving our economic independence and be able to deliver the many services our people deserve in Health, Education, infrastructure development and food security to mention but a few.

Fellow Citizens, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Your government remains seriously concerned about our current humanitarian situation. In May of this year, the Integrated Phase Classification for the assessment of food security in the country showed that we averted the famine that was feared to spread across the nation.

While this was an encouraging development, the food crisis is not over. Indeed, many people remain food insecure and are battling hunger and malnutrition.

The Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management and the Relief and Rehabilitation Commission have diligently prepared a South Sudan Humanitarian Response Plan for 2017. In collaboration with our international partners and humanitarian organizations, your government is working to stabilize the worst affected areas.

Through coordination with multiple aid agencies, over 5 million citizens have been reached. I issued directives to all concerned government agencies, both national and state, to allow unhindered access for delivery of all humanitarian assistance to citizens in need across the country. This has enabled many humanitarian aid agencies to pre-position 90% of humanitarian needs.
We acknowledge and appreciate the World Food Program and all of our partners and donors for availing funds and support for this noble work. I want to assure all our citizens that we will continue to exert all efforts to develop a long-term solution to the food insecurity crisis in the country.

Fellow Citizens, Ladies and Gentlemen,

We are exacting efforts to incrementally improve the security situation in the country to allow our displaced citizens to return home. As the saying goes, there is no place like home and it pains us that our people have been uprooted from their homes and livelihoods. Too many of our people have become internally displaced or have sought refuge in the neighbouring countries.
In that regard, your government has developed a policy framework that meets international standards for the safe, voluntary and dignified return, resettlement, and reintegration of the displaced people in South Sudan. Moreover, we are actively engaged in the process of ratifying the African Union Convention, also known as the Kampala Convention, on the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons. These efforts are aimed at the speedy return and protection of our people who are displaced.

Fellow Citizens, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am fully aware that beyond security concerns, the major issue that is keeping people from returning home is the economic hardships the country is undergoing.

It is no secret that the war situation in the country and the global decline in the oil prices have negatively affected our economy.
The government, through the collaborative work of the Ministry of Finance and Planning, and the Bank of South Sudan; is working tirelessly to arrest the economic crisis. Although the South Sudanese Pound is still weak against the dollar, it has been stable for some months now. The two economic institutions of your government have introduced many credible economic reforms and are working in cordial partnership with the international financial institutions to achieve economic recovery and growth.

The stability of the exchange rate is an encouraging indicator that will soon translate into improvement in our daily lives. We must increase our economic output, particularly agricultural production.

Nevertheless, we acknowledge the reality that food production and other economic activities cannot be fully achieved while war prevails in the country. Therefore, in order to fully end this economic hardship, we must continue to make peace and security as our main priority. We must bring the conflict in our country to an end. This will in turn attract investors and increase local productivity. It will help us to streamline government expenditure into the productive sectors of the economy.

Fellow Citizens, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Our Country is politically divided and we must find ways and means to unite our people and build one nation. Implementation of the peace Agreement and the National Dialogue are the only way forward. Many people, including our own citizens and some members of the international community, were pessimistic when the National Dialogue was first launched.

However, in the last two months it has gained support both internally and in the international community. It is therefore incumbent upon all of us; both government and opposition, to let the national dialogue succeed. Since the National Dialogue Steering Committee started its first session on May 29th, 2017, the debates have been quite frank, open, honest and patriotic. That is the spirit we need and we believe that this particular process is the only viable formula for resolving layers of conflicts that have deeply affected our young Republic.

To demonstrate our commitment to the National Dialogue process the government has earmarked 2.4 billion South Sudanese Pounds from the Peace Fund for this crucial national project. I wish to use this occasion to acknowledge the leadership and members of the Steering Committee and the Secretariat for accepting this challenging national duty.
I also take this opportunity to thank our international partners, particularly Germany and Japan to name a few, for your invaluable support to the National Dialogue.

In the same spirit, I want to appeal to all our international partners, the IGAD countries, East African Community, the African Union, the UN Security Council and the UN General Assembly, to support the National Dialogue process in South Sudan.
We have the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan as well as the SPLM Reunification Agreement. These agreements form the governing framework of the Transitional Government of National Unity. In light of this, it is our considered opinion that any further renegotiation of these agreements would be counterproductive.

Fellow Citizens, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Through perseverance and commitment, we have had the determination to pursue the path to freedom unapologetically. Six years into our independence, many critics have questioned whether it was wise for the people of South Sudan to choose independence, simply because we have not been able to solve our differences amicably.

Our answer to these critics is that the people of South Sudan do not regret their decision. I am confident that if the referendum for independence were to be held again today, the people of South Sudan would still choose to be free.
This is not to say that the road we have travelled over the last six years has been smooth. The enormous task of nation building takes time, commitment, dedication and stability. It is not a process that happens overnight. Together, we embarked on this journey of managing politics and implementing state bureaucracy.

We are learning how to manage the economy while organizing services such as healthcare and education. And throughout this process, we continue to face a multitude of challenges. Yet, our resolve remains unshakable.

Too many innocent lives have been lost in the struggle for liberation. We must honour their legacy by continuing to press forward, learn from our mistakes and join hands to rebuild South Sudan.

Finally my people,

In the spirit of peace and on the occasion of the 6th anniversary of our independence, I ask you all to join me in choosing patriotism above everything else. Let us embrace a view that brings us together rather than divide ourselves.
Each and every one of you is an integral part of South Sudan. We have the power to bring about change that will benefit and develop this nation, the country that we all dreamed to have and cherish. We must embrace a collective vision, and more importantly we must have the courage to pursue it by all means.

May God Bless you all and May God continue to bless South Sudan.

Happy Independence Day.

Thank you

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