The Equatoria Conference convened from 14th -16th April 2011 in Nyokuron Cultural Centre, Juba, under the theme: Justice, Unity and Prosperity, was organized by the three (3) Governors of Eastern, Central and Western Equatoria States. The conference attracted over two thousand participants from all the three (3) States of Equatoria, Equatoria Diaspora communities from the United States of America, Canada, Australia, East Africa, Egypt, Qatar, Oman as well as from other states in Southern Sudan.
The opening session of the historic conference was addressed by the Legal Advisor to the President, Justice Telar Deng Ring, who represented the First Vice President of the Republic and President of the Government of Southern Sudan, H.E. General Salva Kiir Mayardit. The three Governors of Equatoria States: Bangasi Joseph Bakosoro, Governor of Western Equatoria State, Louis Lobong Lojore, Governor of Eastern Equatoria State and Clement Wani Konga, Governor of Central Equatoria State, delivered key note speeches to the conference.
The Conference was deliberated upon by participants drawn from religious leaders, academia, elders, politicians from various Parties, professionals and civil society organizations, and covered a broad range of strategic issues to Equatoria and South Sudan in the lead up to the birth of the new and independent Republic of South Sudan.
The Conference is cognizant of the resolution of the consultative meeting of the three Governors of Equatoria, passed in Yambio on 24th February 2011, which stated that the Greater Equatoria be referred to simply as Equatoria.
During the 3-day deliberations, the Conference worked on building a deeper sense of national belonging in Equatoria in order to promote unity in diversity amongst the people of South Sudan, and to bring together the people of Equatoria to reflect on their past, present and look into the future of a just, united and a prosperous Republic of South Sudan.
The closing session of the historic conference was addressed H.E. Dr. Riak, the Vice President of Government of South Sudan. Hence the following resolutions have been adopted:
1. On Governance, the conference resolved that:
1.1 A democratic federal system of governance should be adopted for the Republic of South Sudan, therefore the establishment of the new country as the Federal Republic of South Sudan.
1.2 There should be equitable sharing of power at various levels of government, which includes the executive, legislative, judicial organs of the government that represents all of our national interests, political parties, gender equality and equitable distribution of public resources.
1.3 The 25% affirmative action for women should be increased to 30% as promised to women by H.E. Salva Kiir Mayardit and should be realized accordingly.
1.4 Equatoria Parliamentary and Senate Caucuses at the federal level should be established to protect the national interest of Equatoria.
1.5 The three States of Equatoria should encourage knowledge and skills transfer, and the exchange of students and teachers between and across the States.
1.6 Equatoria cultural expressions should be promoted, to enhance and progress understanding and social integration.
1.7 Establishment of restorative justice, healing, truth and reconciliation commission should be prioritized to address grievances of South Sudanese communities.
1.8 The interim and permanent constitutions of the Republic of South Sudan should provide for the right to freedom of expression and equality, right to information and the right of access to information.
1.9 The Media as the forth pillar of the state in a constitutional democracy should be independent of government control and freedoms of the press and the media should be protected by law in the sovereign Republic of South Sudan.
1.10 The Media, through the establishment of an independent public service broadcaster should promote the right of different communities to freely access and use Mass Media communication to give expression to the rich cultural diversity of all our communities.
1.11 The regulation of the media should only be undertaken by bodies which are independent of the government, which are publicly accountable, and which operate transparently.
1.12 To give effect to enjoyment of our constitutional rights as enshrined in the Interim Constitution of Southern Sudan (ICSS), the Government of Southern Sudan should prioritize the passage into law by the Southern Sudan Legislative Assembly of the long overdue Southern Sudan Media Legislation Bills before 9th July 2011; The Right to Information Bill which regulates access to information in the possession of public and private bodies, the Southern Sudan Broadcasting Corporation Bill, which establishes an independent public service broadcaster in South Sudan that is publicly accountable through the parliament, and the Media Authority Bill, which establishes independent oversight and regulatory body in the form of a Media and Communication Commission of the sovereign Republic South Sudan.
1.13 The interim constitution of the Republic of South Sudan should provide for making of the permanent constitution by a Constituent Assembly, including through public consultations, and its coming into force by vote of the people in a referendum.
1.14 Land Management should be subject to a transparent land policy that gives effect to rights enshrined in the interim and permanent constitution of the Republic of South Sudan, and that provides for land ownership in reference to the socio-economic conditions of the three states agricultural and pastoral communities.
1.15 The Land management policy should recognize land ownership by the community and give effect to economic, social and cultural rights of individuals, and communities of the three states of Equatoria in accordance with the rule of law, and where land is granted for public use, or to meet public need, the communities affected by transfer of land ownership to public use should be adequately consulted and compensated.
1.16 The interim constitution should provide that a Federal System of Governance shall be adopted, with a legislature divided into a Senate and South Sudan National Assembly.
1.17 The Interim constitution should provide that appointments to the constitutional positions should reflect the diversity of the people of South Sudan and be based on merit.
1.18 The Interim constitution should provide that any appointment of the Chief Justice done by the President must be approved by the National Assembly.
1.19 The Interim constitution should provide that recruitment, training and promotion of the National Army and security agencies should be guided by the new constitution so as to reflect regional balance and National characteristics of an independent sovereign State.
1.20 The appointment of ambassadors and foreign office senior staff to diplomatic missions abroad should be subject to parliamentary hearing and approval.
1.21 The Federal and State constitutions should provide for land ownership rights that are consistent with international human rights law as well as the economic, social and cultural rights to which Sudan is a State party.
1.22 The Anti-Corruption Commission should be independent of Executive Government control or interference in order for anti-corruption to effect strengthening systems of accountability, control and oversight to fulfill its constitutional mandate and mission to effectively fight, prosecute and eradicate corruption.
1.23 The requirement of Declaration of Assets by civil servants and constitutional post holders should be enforced and made mandatory prior to assumption of public office as well as enforcement of the policy of Declaration of Conflict of Interest in decisions of award of contracts, and procurement of public assets or use of public resources.
1.24 The policy of regular vetting of staff, discretion, formal and informal monitoring of behavior and activities of public office holders, including in the transparent and proper procedures for recruitment to government positions should be enforced.
1.25 Disciplinary policy and the Civil Service Act, Rules and Regulations and the strict supervision of any suspected malpractice by civil servants or institution should be enforced.
1.26 The independent auditing of public accounts and government expenditure at state and federal levels, and the establishment of transparent and efficient internal finance systems should be enforced.
1.27 Human Resources policies for regular staff rotation should be enforced throughout government departments, including development of guidelines on Gift and conflict of interest where they are not in existence.
1.28 The Equatoria Conference 2011 urges and strongly recommends to the three Governors of Equatoria to undertake a national project for the rehabilitation and preservation of the historic sites and premises such as the location of Juba Conference of 1947 and other sites in Equatoria.
1.29 There should be provisions for the rotation of the posts of President, the Vice President and the Speaker in the Republic of South Sudan among the regions of Bahr El Ghazal, Equatoria, and Upper Nile.
1.30 The constitution of the Republic of South Sudan should provide for a two terms limit on holders of the offices of the President and State Governor, and should provide for streamlining the appointment of Presidential Advisors, and Advisors to State Governors.
1.31 The appointment and deployment of Senior Officers and Commissioners in the Police, Prisons, Wild Life and Fire Brigade, should adhere to principles of decentralization and under the State jurisdiction.
1.32 The allocation and the management of finances for the repatriation, rehabilitation and integration of the Internal Displaced Persons (IDPs) of Equatoria, from Northern Sudan should be given to their respective States.
1.33 The employment at National level be regulated and be guided by the constitution to ensure fair and equitable representation of Equatorians in the new Republic of South Sudan, and Human Resources in the Federal institutions should be distributed in accordance with the ratio of 4:3:3 for the regions of Bahr El Ghazal, Equatoria and Upper Nile respectively.
1.34 The executive of the Government of the Republic of South Sudan should be composed of politicians, professionals and technocrats with requisite credentials and competencies based on merits.
1.35 The governments of Equatoria should restore the use of the original names of villages such as Himan (renamed as New Cush) in Budi county, and other similarly renamed areas elsewhere in Equatoria, and the continuation of any administration by (IDPs) parallel to county authority should prohibited or abolished.
1.36 Justice should be done for the Senior Police Offices murdered in cold blood in Yambio, the medical doctor murdered in Yei, eight (8) civilians including one pregnant woman, murdered in cold blood in Yei, in light of the fact that the culprits have not been brought to justice or prosecuted.
1.37 The evils of corruption, tribalism, nepotism, favouritism and all other forms of discrimination must not be tolerated in Equatoria and South Sudan.
1.38 Establishment of Constitutional Court, which should be independent from Federal Supreme Court to adjudicate on issues of law and inter-state relationships.
1.39 The State Ministry of Legal Affairs should assume the duties and responsibilities of the current Government of Southern Sudan Ministry of Legal Affairs and Constitutional Development as per Provisions of the interim constitution by formulating and establishing its legal framework.
1.40 The Judiciary should be decentralized and each State should be responsible for the appointment of its judges through an independent judicial council.
1.41 There should be establishment of an international borders commission to look into international border issues with our neighbours.
1.42 There should be control of influx of labour and immigrants from other countries, and with regards to the socio-economic and cultural impact on Equatoria.
1.43 There should be equitable allocation of technocrats and professionals from Equatoria to serve in the diplomatic missions of the new Republic of South Sudan abroad, including the permanent representatives to the United Nations, Regional and other international bodies.
1.44 Building a capital is not a priority for the people of South Sudan, but delivery of basic services and development are the priorities.
1.45 Juba should retain its present status quo as both the State Capital of Central Equatoria and the National Capital of South Sudan, inter-governmental and mutual cooperation between Central Equatoria State and the National Government should be promoted to explore potential options for the development of Capital city on land such as that already made available Central Equatoria Government (5x5 Sq.km) on both sides of the River Nile for the development of the proposed the New Capital of Republic of South Sudan.
1.46 In order to relief pressure on the National Capital; Juba should be decongested by improving social services in nearby towns of Bor, Yirol, Yei, Torit, Yambio, and Rumbek.
1.47 Investment policy of the National Government should encourage and attract foreign institutions to invest not only in the National Capital but also in the States and counties.
1.48 There should be re-zoning of residential, commercial, and industrial areas where mixing is not permitted. There should be immediate measures to effect removal of all industrial activities from residential areas, removal of the lodges, bars, garages, gas stations from residential areas, and removal of Hotels from the River side, and the short term plan should be the protection of the River Nile water and the surrounding areas
1.49 A monument should be built in honor and memory of all Equatorian and South Sudanese martyrs who were massacred in the 1960s and 1990s in Juba and throughout the war.
1.50 The National Government should implement measures for the preservation of the infamous “White house”, so that future generations learn from history, and to identify any mass graves in the area.
1.51 Governments of South Sudan and Equatoria States should urgently enforce measures to stop land grabbing, and to implement transparent processes for allotment of residential lands to citizens according to the States` plans, including encouragement of real estate, residential flats and rental homes development.
1.52 Policy for stopping land grabbing should also be enforced in other States with similar challenges of land grabbing, including the forced occupation of public property e.g, in Nimule, Maridi, Yei and Nadapal.
2. On Development, the conference resolved that:
2.1 The three States should enact laws that will foster foreign direct investment and private sector growth to enhance sustainable development.
2.2 The three States should formulate monitoring policy measures to assist in the promotion of local entrepreneurs and light industries through micro-finance.
2.3 The three States should adopt agriculture and forestry as the backbone of economic growth and should ensure the allocation up to10% of its annual budget to the Ministries of Agriculture and Rural Development.
2.4 The three should adopt strategies to encourage the return of the Equatoria Diaspora and utilize their experiences and establish a system of hiring the Diaspora first instead of offering the employment opportunities to foreigners.
2.5 A Diaspora Secretariat should be established to maintain effective communication lines with Equatoria, and to implement the policy on the Diaspora to facilitate the return of those Equatorians in the Diaspora who wish to come home.
2.6 The Government of the Republic of South Sudan should build partnership with other stakeholders and states to formulate sound macro-economic policies that would achieve sustainable socio-economic development of Equatoria.
2.7 The three States should initiate policy measures for the conservation of natural resources, environmental management, investment, taxation and privatization.
2.8 The development and investment policy in Equatoria should encourage the increased production and marketing of Cash corps in the three States.
2.9 Equatoria Commercial Bank and other specialized banks should be revitalized or new ones initiated and established.
2.10 Building of hydro-electric power stations in Equatoria should be prioritized to boost electric energy generation for local and national consumption.
2.11 The women of Equatoria should be given capacity building and training for skills transfer.
2.12 The local languages in the State should be introduced and taught at early primary education level.
2.13 The Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) from other States residing in Equatoria should be assisted and relocated in their original places.
2.14 Universities of Torit and the Western Equatoria should be made functional, and should prioritize the capacity building and development of Primary and Secondary schools in the three States, and provide vocational training while University of Juba in the interim caters for the needs of the three States for University education.
2.15 The distribution of financial assistance to the Equatoria students studying abroad should be equalized with the of other seven States
2.16 All private Universities should be assessed for their competence and compliance with the regulations of Ministry of Higher Education in regards to the same, and those that fail to meet necessary standards should not be allowed to operate in the three States.
2.17 The Governments of the three States should encourage girls education at all levels and should provide scholarships and financial assistance to girl students with higher performance.
2.18 The Governments of Equatoria should develop and implement policy to promote girls education, discourage early and forced marriages, and abolish the practice of giving girls as payment in lieu and compensation for capital crimes.
2.19 The Federal Government of South Sudan should provide necessary resources and allocate sufficient budget to the Equatoria States to deliver and administer health care services in Counties, as well as payams.
2.20 The three Equatoria States should undertake policy and legislative measures for the realization of the Right of the Child to education, health and welfare.
2.21 An integrated approach should be established for the co-ordination of development strategy, policy and implementation plans across all sectors.
2.22 The three states of Equatoria should prioritize the provision of clean drinking water to the citizens and immediate measures for the implementation of a clear waste management policy to protect the environment.
3. On Security, the conference resolved that:
3.1 Equatoria States should uphold the security of the people, their property, and secure their borders using all security organs provided for by the Interim Constitution of South Sudan.
3.2 The State governors should exercise their constitutional powers to exert control over all security agents and organs in their respective state jurisdictions and assume the responsibility for the appointment of police commissioners in their respective States.
3.3 The building of the security of our nation, the army, and the organized forces should be national in character, with the nucleus of recruitment being the State.
3.4 The conflict between the communities of Yirol County in Lakes State and Mvolo County in Western Equatoria State should be resolved amicably in the interest of preserving peace.
3.5 The phenomenon of keeping internally displaced persons (IDPs) populations from other States continuing to live in large IDP communities in Equatoria more than six years on after the implementation of the CPA, should be ended by facilitating the IDPs to either return to their original states or to be settled as individuals, but not as whole communities, in the interest of preserving peace with the local host communities.
3.6 The challenges of cattle rustling, conflict over water points, grazing land, and child abduction in Equatoria should be dealt with through a culture of peace building, development interventions, and conflict resolution initiatives so that peaceful coexistence among those involved can be realized.
3.7 Settlers who have forcibly taken ownership of land in Equatoria from their rightful owners or community should be repatriated to their respective States to contribute to the development of their respective areas.
3.8 The atrocities committed by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and Ambororo in Equatoria are unacceptable and should be dealt with as a matter of national urgency.
3.9 The “Arrow Boys” should be supported by the Government of Southern Sudan to eradicate the LRA menace from Equatoria.
3.10 The three Equatoria governors should prioritize a joined up approach with the Government of Southern Sudan to initiate efforts to totally eradicate land mines from Equatoria and to help ensure that Equatorians can farm and move freely on their farm lands without risk.
3.11 The security and protection of citizens and communities of Equatoria should be the joint responsibility of all three governments.
3.12 Intra-state and inter-state conflicts and border disputes in the Republic of South Sudan should be resolved amicably through dialogue and reconciliation.
3.13 The disarmament policy in Equatoria should not be discriminatory and the possession of illegal arms should be prohibited.
3.14 There should be fair promotion of senior officers and personnel from Equatoria in the National Army and Organized Forces, and the reinstatement of high ranking and senior officers from Equatoria to fill existing gaps.
4. On Substantive Issues, the conference resolved that:
4.1 The Equatoria conference should be rotated among the three States and be annually conducted in order to deliberate and evaluate issues pertaining to the public interest of Equatoria.
4.2 The engagement team to be formed with the membership and the leadership of the three Governors of Equatoria in order to follow-up the resolutions of the Equatoria Conference 2011 and their implementation.
4.3 The Equatoria Consultative Council (ECC) is to be established as a think-tank and forum to address Governance, Economic, Security and other issues of public interest and concern to Equatoria. This is with consideration for progressing these issues and their resolution with the Federal Government or at the State level, on regular and periodic basis.
1. _____________________________ Date_________________________
Maj. Gen. Clement Wani Konga
2. _____________________________ Date_________________________
Brig. Gen. Louis Lobong Lojore
3. _____________________________ Date_________________________
Col. Bangasi Joseph Bakosoro