All Sudan Political Parties Conference
Juba, 26th – 29th September, 2009
Opening Speech by: Comrade Salva Kiir Mayardit
Chairman of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM)
Leaders, Heads of Delegations, Brothers and Sisters
I am delighted to be here with you and to address this very special and historic gathering which brings together over twenty political parties and civil society activists. On behalf of the SPLM and on my own behalf, I greet and welcome all of you to this important gathering. Eid Mubaral Aleikum wa kulu sana wa antum bekheir. Marhab bekum fi Juba.
Dear Brothers and Sisters, I am humbled by your presence and at the same time encouraged by your keen desire to see peace, justice, democracy and unity of our country firmly established. Each of these noble goals however, has its own condition. It is my duty, as it is yours, to identify those conditions. Indeed, to be truthful to you, this is an occasion for saying the unsaid. As leaders, we owe it to ourselves, as well as to the new generations of Sudanese, to undertake serious soul searching and self-analysis. This self-analysis is what every Sudanese who yearn for peace, democracy, equitable development, political stability and unity in every inch of our dear land expects from us.
We often talk of historical injustices. What are those injustices? We all know by now that injustice was reflected in the denial of Sudan’s multiple diversities; in political alienation of certain groups including women, in economic deprivation which had led to the perpetuation of underdevelopment in vast regions of Sudan in the North and South and in excessive concentration of power in the center. Failure to resolve those problems led to repeated wars in South Sudan and social dislocation in other parts of the country. Those brought in their wake, cumulative bitterness, mistrust, tensions and anger. Sudan therefore, needs a genuine process of reconciliation, healing, forgiveness and confidence building.
The CPA provides us with a golden opportunity to heal the wounds, address the grievances of the past and start building a New Sudan based on citizenship, respect of people’s basic rights, equality, freedom and justice for all. Our inadequacy in doing this in the past was neither due to lack of models to be emulated, nor blue prints to be applied. Farsighted Sudanese politicians and academics deliberated on those issues and came out with appropriate solutions: Round Table Conference, KokaDam meeting, the SPLM design for unity of Sudan on new basis and the Asmara Resolutions on Fundamental Issues under the umbrella of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA). Despite all those laudable efforts, our absorption in marginal issues such as partisan feuds over power disabled us from putting our country in the right path. Surely, we are not meeting here today to engage in blaming each other, but to chart the way forward. Achieving that goal presupposes our being aware of the genesis of our under achievements in the past and defining clear points of reference so that we build consensus on what unites us, not what divides our ranks.
The SPLM has historically set great store by consensus –building on major national issues and reached out even to its assumed enemies. That was why the SPLM never hesitated in negotiating with all political forces regardless of political or ideological differences. As a matter of principle, it also engaged all governments of the day, no matter what their origins or political orientations were. For, example, the SPLM engaged the late President Nimeiri in 1984 despite the fact that one of the proximate causes for the SPLM resistance was Nimeiri’s abolition of the Addis Ababa Accord. It met in 1985 and discussed peace with the emissaries of the Transitional Military Council under General Suwar El Dahab. It conferred with the Political and Professional Alliances at KokaDam in that same year to reach agreement on how to achieve peace in Sudan. It also had a thorough going on our country’s predicaments with Sayed Sadig El Mahadi in Addis Ababa even before he assumed power and later with Mawlana El Mirghani in 1986 whom we sadly miss in this gathering. And despite this engagement with the National Congress in serious negotiations sponsored by regional and international mediators, the SPLM also reached out to the Popular Congress and its leader, Dr. Hassan El Turabi to resolve crucial issues relating to religion and politics as well as to other constitutional issues. If only for this reason, our party had proven beyond doubt that it was not prosecuting war for the sake of war. The SPLM never engaged in war to achieve total victory in battle fields. The victory it had bargained for was winning people’s minds and hearts and making sure that every Sudanese lives, and let the other live, in peace, dignity and justice.
It is with this spirit that we also entered into negotiations with the Ingaz first in Addis Ababa one month after its assumption of power. After painful and protracted sessions of negotiations, the turning point came in the Machakos Framework Protocol (July 2002) which, to all ends and purposes, resolved cardinal issues relating to what came to be known as the “problem of the South”. Those issues included autonomy to Southern Sudan bordering on a confederal status, right to self – determination, participation by South Sudan in national governance according to its demographic size, secularism in Southern Sudan coupled with guaranteeing broad-based religious freedoms in the whole country and parity in decision-making at the level of the presidency on major issues that relate to the peace agreement.
If the above realizations were all what the SPLM wished to achieve, negotiations should have stopped there and then. However, negotiations continued for 18 months after conclusion of that Protocol, not only to fine tune decisions concerning South Sudan, but also to address crucial national issues. Without the resolution of these issues, we told the other party to the negotiations, there would be no comprehensive peace. In this regards, the SPLM has consistently maintained that the problem of the South is a subset of the problem of Sudan. Accordingly, as a party with a national mission, the SPLM had a lot to say on national issues. In those eighteen months, apart from sorting out problems relating to what the mediators called the Transitional Areas (Abyei, Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains), the issues championed by the SPLM during the second phase of the negotiations included decentralization of governance in the whole Sudan, equitable distribution of wealth and revenues among states, adoption and entrenchment in the constitution of a Bill of Rights, the first ever in Sudanese history, free and fair elections during the Interim Period to enable our people choose their leaders and lastly a provision on a process of national reconciliation and healing “that shall promote national harmony and peaceful co-existence among all Sudanese” (Article 21 - INC).
That specific provision was a watered down version of the SPLM’s proposition for a Truth and Reconciliation Process, akin to that undertaken by South Africa. Our purpose then was not exchange blame or cast accusations against each other. We wanted to clear our chests, cleanse our souls and illuminate the people of Sudan, especially the young, regarding the source of the miseries through which our country had gone since independence. In that process, we were ready to carry our own cross. We too have committed serious violations of human rights during our struggle. Without coming forth to set the record straight, neither would the deep physical and psychological scars be erased, nor our conscience be sufficiently cleansed. On our part, we have started such a process in South Sudan since the signing of the CPA and are continuing to pursue that process . Our great leader Dr. John Garang De Mabior seized the opportunity of the Chiefs’ Conference in New Site to apologize to the chiefs and citizens for whatever mistakes committed by SPLA soldiers during the liberation struggle and asked them for forgiveness.
We had also initiated the South-South reconciliation process that resulted in a South-South Covenant (2005) in Nairobi and Juba Declaration in (2005). That process also included reconciliation with Other Armed Groups (OAGs) who were the main tool of war used by the government of Sudan then. A large number of the OAG’s were absorbed into the SPLA.
As you may be aware, the SPLM has also shown to the world an exemplary spirit of forgiveness during the difficult times of war when it released thousands of Prisoners of WAR (POW’s), who were later reunited with their families. If it could forgive and save lives of those who fought against it, the SPLM would not find it difficult to forgive as well those who might have committed crimes against its members, particularly during the war.
I would like, therefore, to take this opportunity to appeal to all of you, political leaders, to all religious leaders – both Christians and Muslims and to traditional leaders to spearhead the reconciliation and healing process throughout the Sudan.
In recalling all this history, I only wish to underline three basic facts: first the determination of the SPLM to make the CPA a tool of transformation of the whole Sudan: politically, constitutionally, culturally and economically. That was the way we envisaged the agreement and that is the way it should remain. Secondly, affirming our conviction on building consensus on national issues. Neither the SPLM, nor the NCP can determine, on their own, the future of Sudan, nor should they be allowed to. Thirdly, the SPLM’s belief that the CPA is the only opportunity Sudan has realized to peace and stability. Let me remind you that the CPA is no longer the Agreement signed by two parties, it is also the current constitution of Sudan.
If implemented faithfully, that agreement has all the ingredients for the resolution of our current, indeed, endemic problems. For that reason, the SPLM late leader personally took the initiative for rallying the NDA behind that agreement. This effort culminated in the signature of the Cairo Agreement in the presence of President Husni Mubarak and all NDA leaders.
Dear Brothers and Sisters
Your presence in Juba today is an indicator to how much you value consensus building, healing, reconciliation, forgiveness and collective endeavor to achieve an inclusive and just peace in the Sudan. Some of you might have thought that the SPLM had closed itself in a cocoon despite its declared national vision and vocation. This is far from the truth. The SPLM never relented in using all the mechanisms available to it in the Agreement to ensure that the CPA was implemented in letter and spirit. Having exhausted all means of persuasion, we decided in October 2007 to withdraw from the Government of National Unity in protest against the vacillation of our partner in the implementation of the CPA. Of the numerous cases of non – implementation of that Agreement which we presented to our partners then, only a few directly related to South Sudan. The rest covered issues that were national in character: repeal of laws repugnant to the constitution, national reconciliation, independence of the judiciary, unconstitutional actions by national law enforcement agencies etc. That was the measure of SPLM’s proactive engagement in making the CPA a tool of national transformation, in fact, not in name.
Dear Brothers and Sisters, Without delivering peace to all parts of Sudan, implementing democracy in our soul, reaching national consensus on major national issues, achieving national reconciliation based on mutual forgiveness and finding an amicable solution to the conflict in Darfur, there shall be no comprehensive peace.
The case of Darfur, in particular requires, our undivided attention. Therefore, the SPLM urges all parties and peace loving activists gathered here today to call and work for the immediate resolution of the Darfur conflict with a view to restoring peace and security for its people and enabling them to equitably and effectively participate in running their own affairs. We cannot stand by and watch our people in Darfur suffer and bleed in isolation.
As it is, conflict in Darfur remains today to be a serious challenge to all political parties, civil society organizations, independent media and surely to the Two Parties that appended their signatures to the CPA. On its part, the SPLM have been involved in an effort to unify the Darfurian armed movements because it believes, based on its own experience , that the chances of reaching an agreement with one movement are much higher than with many of them. To that end, the SPLM, in the course of the last three years, endeavored to unify Darfurian movements around a common negotiating position so as to make the peace process move forward. This is vital and can pave the way for serious and honest negotiations with the Government of National Unity. In addition, the SPLM shall continue to engage the NCP in order to forge a common position in the search for a comprehensive peace in Darfur. The conflict in Darfur is political and, therefore, it must be resolved through political settlement.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I have enumerated a number of issues relating to CPA implementation. While some of those issues were resolved through dialogue with the NCP, others had been met with silent, sometimes open, resistance, especially in so far as democratic transformation is concerned. That resistance shall not only derail the CPA promise of peace and democracy, it shall also threaten the holding of free and fair national elections in April 2010 and the self-determination Referendum in 2011.
By recalling that issue now, the SPLM wishes to underline that its insistence on incorporating in the Agreement measures relating to democratic transformation, it, indeed wanted to enable Sudan to peacefully graduate from one party rule to multi party democracy through a negotiated settlement. Any dilution of the measures we agreed upon in the CPA regarding democratic transformation shall turn democracy into a fictitious process. We in the SPLM sincerely believe that democracy can only flourish in a political environment in which governments are matched with a watchful and responsible opposition with due respect by all parties to the Rule of Law.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
As you all know, contrary to all what the CPA and INC had ordained the promulgation of a procedural law to regulate, self-determination by the people of Southern Sudan is now becoming a bone of contention. Those who seek to turn that procedural law into a substitutive one are actually trying to rewrite the CPA. That is yet an added proof of the need for being fully engaged at the national level. Thus, and mark my words, any call on the SPLM to turn its back to its national role and obligations under the CPA is not only wrong, it is also foolhardy.
Dear brothers and sisters, The SPLM as I mentioned earlier, has been using all the tools provided to it by the CPA in order to ensure faithful and full implementation of that Agreement. Notwithholding, the SPLM urges all delegates present here to stand behind the faithful implementation of the CPA including the promulgation of the referendum law and setting out arrangements for popular consultation so as to enable the South and Abyei conduct their referendums and the people of Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile engage in popular consolations, both in a timely and proper manner.
Brothers and Sisters, The CPA is a historic peace agreement both in content and modalities of implementation. Through it we were able to untangle the root causes of the North – South conflict and provide an all-embracing socio-economic, legal and political framework to address distortions in Sudan’s body politic and economy. It also provided a model for the resolution of other conflicts in Sudan. There was something in that agreement for everyone of us. It provided Southern Sudan with unprecedented autonomy that enabled it plan, organize and decide the management of its own affairs and eventually control its own destiny. It gave legitimacy to the NCP through recognition by its former opponents, including the SPLM. It insured for all political forces a wide margin of democracy and a potential for a peaceful transfer of power. It empowered states to run their own affairs, a power they had been struggling to achieve since independence. That is why the SPLM zealously hold to that Agreement, including partnership with the NCP with the aim of seeing the Agreement through. The alternative to the CPA shall be going back to war. As the man who was directly in charge of SPLA forces during the struggle, under the supreme command of our late leader, I know what war means. I know it in our martyrs and physically-disabled warriors. I know it in our disrupted families where men were separated from their wives and parents pulled apart from their children. I know it in our shattered public buildings and the physical and moral ravages caused by armed conflict. This is a burden which I shall never make Southern Sudanese, or wish for any other people in Sudan, to endure.
Dear Brothers and Sisters
As you are visiting South Sudan, and for some of you probably for the first time, it is incumbent on me to update you on what the Government of South Sudan (GoSS) has been doing in the last four years. If you go about it by reading the headlines off some Khartoum dailies, you may think that the South is only about Nuers killing Dinkas, armed robbers disturbing the peace in Juba and corrupt public officials stealing government money, as if corruption is a monopoly of Southern Sudan.
Without belittling the sad episodes of tribal conflict, common law crimes in major urban centers and corruption by few depraved public officials, there is something else to report on. For example, we had established mechanisms, passed laws and took action against corruption as the CPA and INC had required us to do. Those measures were not matched elsewhere. In the course of only four years, I have discharged two ministers of finance of their functions for actions not befitting their office. Those measures were probably not sensational enough to merit headlines. However, the SPLM in 2005 inherited no viable state structures, no physical infrastructure and hardly any dependable social services.
For instance, South Sudan with a total area comparable to that of Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda did not have a single kilometer of paved roads. Over and above, of all its children eligible for primary education, only 30% were enrolled in schools, the majority of which were supported by NGOs. In the health sector, less than 3% of our children are immunized against vaccine preventable diseases. Those figures left GOSS with daunting task, that tasks, it continues to shoulder with minimal support, if any, from the national government.
In the security sector, GOSS began a comprehensive disarmament program supported by the UNDP. It also commenced a major reform of the security sector with a view to enhancing the capacity of its men and women, heightening their awareness of their constitutional obligations towards citizens and making them people friendly . Regarding the army (SPLA), GoSS equally initiated major reforms aiming at making that army leaner, more professional as well as turning it into a force that operates under civilian control. Full security, however, as still to be attained in South Sudan as it continues to be frustrated by elements from within and from outside Sudan. Threats to security from within are rooted in conflicts ignited by selfish politicians including break-way groups from the SPLM. We were not deterred from serving notice on those groups and their sponsors and paymasters. We shall also never allow our hardly won peace to be destabilized by selfish turn coats and former militias who made of war an industry. The external threats mainly come from the Lord Resistance Army (LRA) which continues to disrupt peace in Western Equatoria State; a state that was known to be most peaceful region in the South. The SPLM also made a great stride in the area of women empowerment. We have always maintained that women are marginalized of the marginalized. As a result we decided to accord women 25% Affirmative Action seats in the Interim Constitution of Southern Sudan.
Nevertheless, all those efforts shall not be enough if GoSS does not achieve what people expect most from it in peace time: a peace dividend. That obviously has to be reflected in economic and social development and improvement of the quality of life.
As a first step, both in Juba and Khartoum, there is need for transparent and accountable governance as well as sustainable utilization of natural resources. The National and Southern Sudan budgets must become a public matter; citizens have a right to know how their revenues are expended and how recourses are developed., it is also a global concern. Citizens have a right to know what part of their revenues are spent on, and priorities given to providing basic social services, food security and economic development and how much is squandered on less important matters. As for the national use of natural resources, we owe it to our future generations as well as to, the world to safe guard the integrity of our natural environment. The environment is no longer a matter of national concern
Brothers and Sisters, In compliance with calendar timelines and activities established by the CPA and the Elections Commission, the SPLM declares that it is able ready and willing to participate in that election throughout the Sudan. In preparation for the upcoming national elections we had established in April of this year an SPLM National Elections Strategy Committee (NESC) whose role includes logistical preparations, mobilization of grass roots communities and initiation of a civic education process at all levels all the way down to the village.
I believe that the General Elections, if properly conducted, shall be a critical impetus for change and empowerment of our people to choose their political leaders and elect their democratic institutions. If properly conducted also elections shall be a good opportunity for the Sudanese people to bring a real change through their free will as one major impetus to the process of democratic transformation. But those are two big “ifs”.
I take this opportunity, therefore, to urge the NCP to co-operate with us in the repeal of laws that are inconsistent with the CPA and INC to create a conducive environment for the achievement of democratic transformation and to make unity attractive. We urge the National Legislative Assembly to expedite enacting these Bills. It is critical that we demonstrate to our citizens that we are serious, sincere and committed to the rule of law and good governance.
However, a thorny issue that shall certainly impinge on the elections still remains, that is the dubious national census results. Allow me to briefly state the position of the SPLM on the 5th Population Census results and their utility as the basis for mapping out the geographical constituencies for the purpose of that Elections. We in the SPLM noted serious irregularities in the conduct of the 5th Population and Household Census. We equally noted a lack of good faith in the exclusion from census forms references to religion and ethnic origin. This information was included in all former census. Despite the NCP’s promise to give due consideration to our request, it went ahead with the census without incorporating those two elements. Moreover, we observed exclusion of certain areas from the census, reflection of numbers in certain areas and their inflation in others. We therefore came to the conclusion that the census results are too flawed and lack the minimum acceptable level of credibility. For this reason, we decided to reject those results and proposed that the CPA formula, or any other acceptable formula, be used for the purpose of the mid-term General Elections. Without the resolution of this issue, just like the satisfaction of all requirements of democratic transformation to which I alluded earlier, the elections process, despite our preparedness for it, may be put on jeopardy.
Brothers and sisters, allow me to explain the position of the SPLM on Sudan’s Foreign Policy. Since its inception, the SPLM declared its intent to create a New Sudan that is at peace with itself, its neighbors and the international community. Hence, we called for a balanced and purposeful foreign policy. Sudan, the SPLM thought, is in dire need for good neighborly relations within the region and cooperation with the international community to further the interest of its people. I take this opportunity to reiterate the commitment of the SPLM to the golden rules governing Sudan’s foreign policy stipulated in the CPA and INC. We maintain that our foreign policy should primarily serve Sudan’s supreme national interests and not be guided by partisan and/or ideological considerations. For this reason, I call all the Sudanese political forces to join the SPLM in highlighting that policy in their political programs and in our joint position. Contrived enmity with some countries of the world must stop. Adventurism in foreign relations which does not serve our national interests in most case.
With the nearing of the CPA expiration date in 2011, the Sudan is truly at historical crossroads. The CPA has provided the people of Southern Sudan with two choices: unity or separation. So, in principle the occurrence of any one of the two choices should not be a matter of surprise to any fair-minded person. However, let me recall that, alongside the recognition of the right to self-determination to the people of South Sudan, the two parties to the Agreement pledged themselves to work towards making unity attractive, especially to the people of Southern Sudan. By that pledge we still stand. As I have recently declared during my visits to South Kordofan and Blue Nile, “ We fought and died for the sake of unity.” However, the final decision on the destiny of the South, shall neither be taken by the NCP or the SPLM. It is the people of South Sudan who shall make the decision.
To us in the SPLM unity is noble cause, but not any unity. That was why we coined the phrase “unity on new basis”. That phrase was our battle cry around which Sudanese from the North, South, East and West joined together. However, the CPA, which does not represent the totality of the SPLM programme, set another bench mark for unity, the Machakos Protocol, INC and ICSS, all provided as follows:-
The people of South Sudan shall either:
(a) Confirm unity of the Sudan by voting to sustain the system of government established under the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and this Constitution, or
(b) Vote for secession. Article 222 (2):
Accordingly, the determinants of unity are embodied in that Article. We do not need look elsewhere for what makes unity attractive. Surprisingly, some local media commentators, national political leaders and even same party spokespersons, sing and dance about unity with total oblivion to the requirements of that unity in the CPA as well as in the constitution that governs the land. Let me tell you that those requirements are cast in stone in both documents. There shall be no going back on them, unless if the singers and dancers wish to turn the CPA into an addendum to the book penned by our great national statesman: Abel Alier in his book, “South Sudan: Too Many Agreements Dishonored”. This time, however, the stakes shall be much higher. Those who believe that unity can be achieved through patriotic urging or gestures are missing the point.
Let me also affirm, what I just said about the SPLM’s committitment to making unity attractive. However, that pledge is shared with our partners in the CPA who are also the senior partner in GoNU. That government, more than the SPLM and GOSS, is endowed with the wherewithal to make unity attractive. As I earlier indicated there is still a lot to be desired in the full implementation of the CPA, especially in actions that shall make unity attractive such as the full realization of democratic transformation and contributing towards the satisfaction of people’s expectations from peace: education, health, physical infrastructure, in ensuring that Sudan is genuinely graduating from one party rule to multi-party democracy and in ensuring, as the CPA provided, that the main instrument of official violence: the Armed Forces are restructured as per Article 145 of the INC. If there are any impediments to unity, it is those ones. So rather than pleading to the SPLM about the virtue of unity, pleaders should address the factors that made many Southerners despondent about it. Failure to do this manifests a high degree of political, if not moral, evasion.
Dear Brothers and Sisters, The two probabilities of unity and secession, without speculating the results of the referendum, are real. Consequently, wisdom dictates that we prepare ourselves to both eventualities. However, both decisions involve certain measures and give rise to certain requirements. The cornerstone of attractive unity is CPA and failure to deliver an of the CPA promises, let alone major ones, would , in all probability, dissuade southerners from unity. For example, unity that does not generate a value added to the present status of South Sudan does not attract anybody. What is the value added in a unity within a system that steers clear of universally acknowledged principles of human rights and good governance; a system that tolerates, for whatever reason, fomenting of religious intolerance; in a system that cherishes exclusivist governance, indeed in a system that seeks to manipulate the census of Southerners both in the South and the North, only to downsize their number should never expect to win over people of the South. Those requirements for unity among others, are not impossible to achieve, so whoever is responsible for their nonimplementation must be assumed to have put off Southern Sudanese unity.
On the other hand, both Southerners and Northerners must realize that even, if the two entities become separate, the North shall be the only Northern neighbor of the south, and the South shall be the only Southern neighbor of the North. Historical familial, social, economic, faith-based and cultural ties and interconnections cannot be erased by any political decision. Accordingly, the two parties to the Agreement and all enlightened patriots are expected to find ways and means to maintain those interconnections. The North and South may, for example, agree on non-aggression arrangement to remove mutual fears, create mechanisms for ensuring that rights to employment, trade and business for the citizens of both states are guaranteed, securing the religious and cultural rights of non-Muslim Sudanese in the North and Muslim Sudanese in the South,and, uppermost, guarantying that a stable Sudan or two Sudans are firmly founded on democracy, the rule of law and the principle of live and let live. This is a task we took upon ourselves in the CPA. And this is a responsibility that we shall never abdicate.
Dear Brothers and Sisters, the tasks ahead are enormous and challenging but they are not insurmountable. I wish you all the best in your discussions.