Kiir Addresses Referendum Symposium

"If we are to be equally well-prepared for both of the possible referendum outcomes, then all of us have a lot of work to do in anticipation of January 2011."

Oepnning Remarks

By H.E General Salva Kiir Mayardit,

First Vice President of the Republic and President of the Government of Southern Sudan

At Symposium on “Southern Sudan: Preparing for 2011 and Beyond”,

Southern Sudan Legislative Assembly
5th December 2009
H. E Dry. Riek Machar Teny – Vice President of the Government of Southern Sudan
Hon. Peter Gbandi – Acting Speaker of Southern Sudan Legislative Assembly
Justice John Wol Makkec – President of the Supreme Court
Presidential Advisors
Representatives of Political Parties
Ministers at all levels of Government
Members of the various legislatures
Representatives of the Diplomatic Missions
Religious Leaders
Ladies and Gentlemen

I feel honored to address the opening session of this symposium, which in my view represents our total determination and commitment to fully implement the CPA.  I thank you all for sparing time from your busy schedules to come and participate in this important event.

Before I proceed with my remarks, may we all stand up to observe a minute of silence to remember our fallen brothers and sisters who sacrificed their lives for the sake of our peace and freedom?

Addressing post-referendum issues is critical to the full implementation of the CPA and the future of our country.  This symposium provides a vital opportunity for the people of the Sudan to discuss the post-referendum challenges and come up with practical solution in order to ensure lasting peace and stability in the country.

As we are all aware, the people of Southern Sudan and Abyei Area will exercise their rights to self-determination in the next thirteen months.  In this referendum, the people of Southern Sudan will choose between a united Sudan or opt for a separate state.  In a similar manner the people of Abyei Area can choose to either to remain in the North or join the South.

The right to self-determination of the people of Southern Sudan is not something anyone who is concerned about the future of this country should downplay.  The 2011 referendum is a historical opportunity for the people of the Sudan to peacefully determine the political destiny of the country. I think whatever strong views or opinions we hold as political parties, politicians or individuals, it is important that we all prepare ourselves for both scenarios of either a vote for independence or vote for continued unity.

I know that the CPA has been a very bumpy ride since its signing in 2005, but the right of the people of Southern Sudan in 2011 to choose their political destiny will survive this bumpy ride.  Should the road toward 2011 referendum be deliberately made impossible by any person, political party or group, then it will be the responsibility of the peace loving people of the Sudan to make it possible.

As stated by our late Chairman Dr. John Garang that in order to fully implement the CPA, we should make the cost of non-implementation of CPA more than the cost of its implementation.  This symposium is an attempt to increase the cost of non-implementation of CPA and to make the implementation of CPA peaceful and attractive.

The 2011 referendum must be fully a free and fair process in which the people, not the politicians, can make their own judgment on either unity or separation.  This process must be totally free from any manipulation or intimidation.  For those who will be campaigning for either the two options, it must be a battle to win hearts and minds and to accept the outcome in a humble manner.  In this game, the people and not the politicians will be the only players.

For those who still think they can impose their own political views on the people of Southern Sudan during the referendum, I think it is in the interest of all political parties in the country to respect the free will of the people.  Gone are the days in which politicians were capable of patronizing the people’s minds.  We are today living in a free world in which even the people in rural areas have a clue about their political rights.

We will work with all political parties in the country to push for the passage of laws that can facilitate the peaceful conduct of the referendum for the people of Southern Sudan in 2011.  We will not allow any form of intimidation or disruption of what has to be a truly valid representation of the will of the people.

We are all aware of efforts by certain circles to frustrate the 2011 referendum.  Various prophets of doom and gloom have already gone further to claim that if Southern Sudan was to become independent it would be a failed state.  Let me state it in no certain terms that the Government of Southern Sudan has come a long way since the signing of the CPA.  We have been able not only to start building Southern Sudan from scratch but we have been able politically to contribute towards transforming and shaping Sudan for the better.

The limited space of freedom that we enjoy today in Sudan is because of the CPA which came as a result of the enormous sacrifices of the marginalized people of Sudan, particularly the people of Southern Sudan.  Our people have suffered greatly, and the minimum we can do is to protect their achievements in the CPA, particularly the exercise of the right of self-determination and popular consultation.  As President of the Government of GOSS, I can tell you now that this government is not going to let the people of Southern Sudan fail to realize their political aspirations.

Morally and legally, I am personally bound to ensure full implementation of the CPA, including the exercise of the right to self-determination.  If the people vote for unity, we will ensure that Southern Sudan continuous its development into strong and vibrant entity within the wider framework of a viable and democratic united Sudan.  Likewise, if the people vote to fulfill their right to self-determination and opt for secession, we will build on the foundation of the GOSS intuitions and become a state that is strong, viable, prosperous, democratic politically inclusive, accountable and able to live in peace with all its neighbors.

If we are to be equally well-prepared for both of the possible referendum outcomes, then all of us have a lot of work to do in anticipation of January 2011.  We need to ensure a peaceful and fair process with a high level on information particularly by citizens.  We need to prepare ourselves to accept the outcome of the referendum.  We need to develop mechanism for a smooth transition and implementation of the referendum outcome.  Sadly, there are some who want, or at least expect us, to fail in this process – but I see no reason why we should.

We all know that January 2011 referendum will not by itself resolve the entire political issues pertaining to Sudan’s historical problems.  We therefore sincerely hope that a framework for a permanent resolution to the Darfur conflict, and the need of other marginalized areas within northern Sudan, can be found over the coming year – to enable the post – 2011 period to be one of genuine peace and prosperity for all the peoples of the Sudan.

I am confident that the people of the Sudan will come together and collectively determine the best outcome for their long-term future.  Whichever of the two outcomes this may be, I urge our African neighbors and international community to abide by the choice of the people and support us to implement it.

I hope that this symposium will critically address key post-referendum issues and come up with practical recommendations to overcome any of the challenges during the post referendum period.

Finally, my special thanks go to the Ministry of Presidential Affairs in the office of the President and the Southern Sudan Legislative Assembly for collaboratively organizing this symposium.  I also thank our development partners for contributing to the success of this historic event:  The Public International Law and Public Group (PILPG), the World Bank, UNDP, Humanity United and Chatham House.

I wish you success and May God Bless you all!

Posted in: Opinions, Speeches
RSS comment feed
06/12/2009, 8:28 AM
 - Posted by Charles B.
Dear all

At long last we are moving in the right direction. This should be the beginning of the work to develop various realistic strategies to prepare the south to meet the challenges anticipated after 2011 referendum. Some of us have raised this isuue time and again here and elsewhere about the lack or preparedness of the south to deal with the post-referendum period. My hope is that after the symposium committees of informed individuals will be formed to work out details of the what to do and how to implement. Here is an opportunity to select people who are knowledgeable and competent enough in their fields of expertise, to come up with the best possible ways to deal with the anticipated challenges. More often than not we end up with committees that are filled with figures with very pedestrian knowledge of what should be done, simply because of their good political connections. Time we turn to people who are knowledgeable in their areas and are result oriented, with good track records. The south has plenty of them, some at home and others in the Diaspora.

Charles B.
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