Washington, DC - Keynote Address on the Occasion of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation 40th Annual Conference Foreign Affairs Brain Trust Event at the Washington Convention Center by Gen Salva Kiir Mayardit, First Vice President of the Republic of the Sudan and President of the Government of Southern Sudan:-
My brothers and sisters, members of the American Congressional Caucus, Invited participants, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to be here today. I would like to thank Congressman Donald Payne, my dear brother and friend, for inviting me to speak today in this auspicious forum. This gives me the opportunity to pay tribute to his extraordinary leadership, solidarity and courage on the issue of Sudan.
At a time of great difficulty and suffering for Sudan, and the South in particular, you and your colleagues in Congress - Wolf, Smith, Capuano, Jackson Lee, Franks, Senators Brownback, Kerry, Wicker, Feingold, Dodd and among others - stood with us and worked for peace in my country. I vividly recall Donald Payne's visit to Nimule in 1993, at a time of great strife for us. I also take this opportunity to remember one of the great friends of our Movement whom we sadly and prematurely lost in a tragic plane crash, Congressman Mick Leland.
Why do I have to recall that visit to Nimule? Because it helped produce a Congressional resolution of support for the SPLM call for the right of the people of Southern Sudan to self-determination, a commitment that lies at the heart of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that finally brought peace to our country in 2005, a right that will be exercised - at last - in a crucial and historic referendum in January 2011. Congressman, I am convinced that your efforts have saved many lives in my country. I honour you today, sir, and thank you.
I would also like to recognize Congressional Black Caucus Chairperson, Barbara Lee and thank her for her work on Sudan. I remember Barbara you also visited Juba and I regard you all as good friends of the Sudanese people. I must also recognize my great sister Dr. Susan Rice for her contribution for peace.
I also want to thank the American people, and pay tribute to them, for their steadfast support. Their pressure, and concern, was immensely important in securing peace. Their continued interest, like yours, will be more necessary than ever in the testing months ahead.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
My predecessor and late hero, Dr John Garang De Mabior also addressed this August gathering in September 2004, just a few months before the CPA was signed that ended so many years of war in Sudan. The CPA remains the vital foundation of peace today, and will remain so in the months ahead.
I want today to welcome and express gratitude for the extraordinary leadership of the United States, under many administrations, that made the CPA happen and is still helping to ensure that peace is maintained. That leadership remains essential.
In recent days, President Obama's Administration has reiterated and reinforced American engagement for the crucial months ahead. The Administration has deployed extra staff and resources and recently released some very clear messages about what is necessary from the parties in Sudan. I very much welcome this engagement. It could not be more necessary now than any other time before. President Obama's commitment to attend next week's UN High Level meeting on Sudan is a very important signal of his own personal interest, and with it, American engagement. I am immensely grateful and look forward to continued contacts with him personally.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Today, we are left with over 100 days to reach the vital moment in the history of the CPA, the Referendum. This is an extraordinary moment in the history of Africa. We must be realistic and clear-sighted about what lies ahead of us. January's referendum will likely make clear the wish of the people of Southern Sudan for their own state in case of the choice of secession. Thus, US Government leadership and day-to-day involvement will be vital to make sure that the transition to a new state happens smoothly and peacefully. This will only happen if the international community, led by the United States, requires all parties to stick to the commitments that they have already made.
Southern Sudan has achieved much in the years since the CPA was signed. Despite our history of decades of war and destruction, we have a working democracy, we have a functioning government providing security and law and order. Business is beginning to flourish. But for our people to enjoy peace and prosperity in the years to come, we need your help especially during these very difficult challenges of the months ahead.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Over the last 5 years, it has become clear that unity has not been made an option for our people. Our partners in the North showed very little interest or activity to make unity a realistic proposition. At the moment, all signs point to the fact that on January 9th, 2011 Southern Sudanese people will vote overwhelmingly for independence. Together we must prepare for this eventuality.
While my own government is moving heaven and earth to ensure that the necessary referenda in Southern Sudan and Abyei should take place correctly and on time, there have been worrying signs of foot-dragging from our partners in the North. Here is a clear task for the international community. It should be signaled clearly to the parties that no disruption or delay to these referenda can be tolerated.
As we look forward to this historic event, it is important to recognize the limitations of the environment in which we are operating. Southern Sudan is not Switzerland, thus, our geography and infrastructure may work against us. The measure of credibility of the vote should be clear and understood beforehand. We are working for a vote that represents fairly the views of the people. This should be the measure of the legitimacy of the process. It is not realistic to demand perfection but it is in our interest that a free, fair and transparent process is put in place.
Critically important is that the referenda take place on time, as stipulated in the CPA. Delay or denial of the right of self-determination for the people of Southern Sudan and Abyei risks dangerous instability. There is without question a real risk of a return to violence on a massive scale if the referenda do not go ahead as scheduled. To us, the timing of the referenda is sacrosanct. The weight of our history, the depths of our peoples' suffering and corresponding expectations, the promises of their leaders both in the North and South, and the guarantees of the international community create no space for wavering on this commitment.
Once a vote takes place, a different challenge will emerge. Here again, we will need the leadership of the United States and its allies, and other guarantors of the CPA, to ensure a peaceful transition. It will be vital that the international community respect its stated commitment to accept the results, and help the parties make the necessary arrangements for a new situation to emerge.
As we prepare for the referendum, we have also begun negotiations on post-referendum issues. The Government of Southern Sudan has approached these negotiations with seriousness and good intentions. We are genuinely willing to negotiate with our brothers in the North, and are prepared to work in a spirit of partnership to create sustainable relations between Northern and Southern Sudan for the long-term. It is in our interest to see that the North remains a viable state, just as it should be in the interests of the North to see Southern Sudan remain a viable one too. The North is our neighbour, it shares our history, and it hosts our brothers and sisters. Moreover, I have reiterated several times in my speeches in the past that even if Southern Sudan separates from the North it will not shift to the Indian Ocean or to the Atlantic Coast. We will strive to be good neighbors.
From the very beginning, the SPLM has often negotiated for the South in good faith, basing itself on a comprehensive set of principles - principles that we hope the North will ascribe to as well. These include that there should be good relations and peace between the people of Northern and Southern Sudan; that we develop trade and economic relations on the basis of equality and mutual benefit; that we negotiate post-referendum issues fairly and consistent with international law; that we work to preserve and enhance the livelihoods of all Sudanese people, including those depending on traditional migrations across the North/South border.
I want to particularly mention two issues of well-known concern. The first is oil, where everybody seems to think that in order for Southern Sudan to become an independent state, it must give up most of its oil reserves to the North. Now where is justice? The North has been sharing with us the oil from the South while having exclusive consumption of revenues from northern oil produce. We should have mutually agreed for a formula that is satisfactory to all so that our populations should have equal economic benefits from the oil sector.
That notwithstanding, we believe that there is a very real opportunity to demonstrate how two states can work together cooperatively to bring economic prosperity to both of their nations in the event of secession. To this end, we have recently agreed with the NCP, the governing party in Khartoum, a full independent audit of Sudan's petroleum sector along with the publication of daily production figures in order to promote an atmosphere of trust and accountability between North and South.
The second particular and critical issue is citizenship, so that the safety and rights of Southerners in the North, safety and rights of Northerners in the South, as well as for the peoples who have traditionally travelled through the border areas, are fully protected. I have committed my government to provide and guarantee adequate security for all Sudanese in a manner that respects the rule of law and the rights and freedoms of all individuals, no matter what their tribe, origin, religion, or ethnicity. We look for the same commitment from the North.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
These negotiations will not succeed without the help of the international community, and in particular the leadership of the United States. We urgently need your country, and the world, to pay close attention to what is about to happen in Sudan. Your interest, and your pressure for the parties to keep to their commitments, will be essential to ensure a successful, and above all, peaceful outcome. Even now, there is a pressing issue that can only be resolved with US attention, that of Abyei, where stability now and in the future depends on the implementation of the Permanent Court of Arbitration's decision, which Khartoum claims to have accepted, but where there has been continual delay. We do not want Abyei to become the potential epicenter for conflict to reignite between the South and the North. As the mid-wife of the Abyei Protocol, the US has a special role to see to it that there is no reverse to war because of the lack of implementation of the Abyei Protocol.
I am happy to mention to you that US engagement has stepped up in recent months, both in Juba and Khartoum. We very much welcome this and are very grateful for the efforts exerted by the Obama Administration to assist the parties fulfill their obligations to the CPA. In this context, we welcome Ambassador Princeton Lyman's appointment to support the negotiation process, and we look forward to - and indeed are already enjoying - working with him closely.
But when we consider these negotiations, I would like to stress that it should not be up to the South to put all of the compromises on the table at the outset. There are rising calls that the South must make 'accommodations' and 'compromises', if it expects the North to accept its independence. The terms 'accommodation', 'compromise' and phrases such as "buy your freedom" are troubling. These terms imply in some way that the South has not already made significant compromises and sacrifices. Anyone who knows the history of our country knows that nothing could be further from the truth.
We must also be realistic about these negotiations. It is unlikely that we will agree on all aspects of the post-referendum arrangements before January 9th, 2011. We will work hard to get as far as possible. But the timing of the referendum is sacrosanct. The vote must happen on time on January 9th, 2011, and is not contingent on the conclusion of any post-referendum negotiations, including over the border, as the CPA itself makes it clear. Elsewhere, referenda have successfully been held even when borders were not completely resolved, including in Eritrea and Ukraine. Southern Sudan should not be different. As I have already said, the CPA is very clear that the referenda must take place on the specified date.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The referendum will mark the beginning of a longer journey towards development and improved livelihoods for our people. We want to responsibly and sustainably exploit our country's natural resources, while also recognizing the need to diversify our country's economy, and in particular to develop our agricultural sector.
In the area of good government, I acknowledge that we have much work to do. Let me reiterate my personal commitment, as well as the government's commitment, to establish transparent and accountable government where nepotism and corruption have no place, and guarantee that minority rights are protected and minority populations and interests are given voice and representation in all decision-making bodies of Southern Sudan.
However, I would like to point out that after the referendum, our people will continue to need help. In particular, we will need the support of multilateral institutions such as the World Bank, and arrangements to allow Southern Sudan to benefit from soft loans and grants in order to develop rapidly. American leadership is critical for this, and in shaping and supporting the UN presence in Southern Sudan, which will remain necessary in order to help with the remaining issues of post-referendum negotiations such as border demarcation and the protection of civilians in border areas.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me conclude by saying the following about the future of the Sudan:
- My final appeal to you all is that the future of Sudan is hanging in the balance; therefore, it requires the attention of the region and the international community at large.
- It is important to note that ensuring full CPA implementation (up to the timely conduct of the referenda in Southern Sudan and Abyei) is ensuring permanent peace in the region and the world.
- US Government to maintain its focus on Sudan and work with the international community particularly the Troika and the UN to intervene if conflict arises during and after the conduct of the referendum.
- There is urgent need for the US government, the Troika, IGAD countries, the African Union and the international community to explicitly endorse the referendum and recognition of the choice of the people of Southern Sudan and Abyei.
- The world should view Southern Sudan as a potential contributor to regional and international peace should it become independent after the referendum.
- Southern Sudan will be the catalyst for the consolidation of democracy in the Sudan.
- Southern Sudan is a potential market to the region because already the neighboring countries of Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia and DR Congo are benefiting a great deal from it.
- Therefore, I urge American investors and other investors worldwide to come and invest in Southern Sudan. In terms of agriculture, it will be the bread basket of the region and the world.
- Finally, I urge the US Government and the international donor community to contribute generously in the building of the capacity of Southern Sudan so as to develop in order to catch up with the rest of the region and the international community in terms of modernization.
In a nutshell, we have a roadmap for success in Sudan, which is the CPA. It is up to all of us to ensure that it is fully implemented. I am grateful for your support and interest in my country and people. I urge you to maintain bi-partisan support, and ensure peace in this determinative phase of Sudan's history. In order to preserve and sustain the peace, we need you and the world needs America!
We have a lot of work to do between now and January 9th, 2011, but with your help, I am confident that we can achieve our common goals: economic development, the protection of human rights, but above all a sustainable and lasting peace for all of the people of Sudan.
Once again, I thank Congressman Payne and colleagues for having afforded me this golden moment to share with you about the fears and hopes of the future of our country.
Thank you and May God Almighty bless you always!
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