S. Sudanese President Salva Kiir Mayardit addresses the peaceful demonstration in Juba.[©Gurtong]
The Rt Hon. Speaker- SSLA
Leaders of all Political parties
Governor, Central Equatoria State
Ministers at all government levels
Honorable Members of the various Assemblies
Representatives of Diplomatic Missions
Women and Youth Groups
Ladies and Gentlemen
To-day, we are witnessing the people of Southern Sudan from all political parties and different works of life coming together to express their solidarity on issues of common interest to our people. This is the kind of unity I have always been calling for, and a unity we must always demonstrate as a people, particularly when we are confronted by these kinds of challenges.
This peaceful procession must be commended by all democratic forces in the country, because it demonstrates the commitment of the Government of Southern Sudan to respect and uphold the citizens’ right to peaceful assembly as guaranteed by the constitution and within the confines of the law.
May I therefore take this opportunity to congratulate the organizers of this event, particularly the leaders of all Southern Sudan political parties.
Before, I proceed with my remarks; let us stand to observe a minute of silence to remember our Great Leader Dr. John Garang and all our fallen heroes and heroines who sacrificed their dear lives for peace and freedom.
During the last few weeks, all of us have been following with great concern the developments in the National Assembly regarding the passing of three bills on Southern Sudan Referendum, Abyei Referendum and Popular Consultation.
Two weeks ago, I was in Khartoum and we managed to avert a political crisis. During my meeting with President Omer Hassan El Bashir we agreed to start with new spirit of partnership for the remaining period of the CPA. As a result of this agreement the National Council of Minister unanimously passed the three bills that were initialed by our Minister of Legal Affairs and Constitutional Development and the National Minister of Justice.
Besides our agreement for the National Assembly to pass these three bills without any changes, we also agreed to take some administrative measures in the National Assembly to correct some irregularities that did not promote the spirit of the CPA.
Despite the agreement reached between us and the unanimous passage of the three bills by the National Council of Ministers, the NCP went ahead to introduce major changes to the Southern Sudan Referendum Bill and that forced the SPLM members in the National Assembly together with members of other Southern Sudan political parties including some members of NCP in the National Assembly to walk out of the discussion of these distorted bills. Unfortunately, the NCP used its mechanical majority to pass the Southern Sudan Referendum Bill in the absence of Southern Sudanese.
What is happening in the National Assembly is a clear defiance to our joint political commitment to implement the most critical aspects of the CPA; particularly the Southern Sudan Referendum, Abyei Referendum and Popular Consultation. The members of the National Assembly were appointed on the basis of the provisions of the CPA and their primary focus should be to ensure the full implementation of the CPA.
Although what is happening in the National Assembly could be seen as an isolated incident some may view it as an organized strategy by the NCP to water down the CPA and political achievements of the marginalized people of the Sudan.
For me personally, I feel that the leadership of NCP; particularly my Brother President Omer Hassan El Bashir and Vice President Osman Taha are both committed to respect the bills passed by the Council of Minister and will not allow such irresponsible conduct in the National Assembly to push us back to square one.
We have a collective responsibility to ensure that these bills are passed by the National Assembly in accordance with the agreement of our parties. Vice President Taha and Dr Riek have spent days and days to reach a common agreement on these bills, and the bills were approved by the National Council of Ministers.
President Bashir made a public commitment during the Council of Ministers meeting that self-determination is the right of the people of Southern Sudan, and requested both the proponents of unity and separation to support the people of Southern Sudan to exercise this right. The President also stated that the Ngok Dinka of Abyei do not need the residency requirement as the indigenous people of the area to take part in the referendum.
We must not allow ourselves to be provoked or pushed by the enemies of peace to temper with the CPA. The CPA came as a result of the sacrifices made by our martyrs and long suffering of our people and it is our moral obligation to protect it.
While we express our political opinion in this peaceful demonstration, the people of Southern Sudan, Nuba Mountains, Blue Nile and the entire marginalized people of the Sudan must always remember that the CPA has addressed their political aspirations and they must all work together to protect it at all cost.
The SPLM remains committed to the CPA provisions that require the two parties to make unity an attractive option for the people of Southern Sudan. However, the SPLM will also respect and abide by the choice of the people of Southern Sudan.
Because of the SPLM’s commitment to democratic transformation, we stand against the passing by the National Assembly of the National Security Bill, because this bill clearly contravenes the CPA. The SPLM will therefore continue to push for the amendment or repeal of all laws that contravene the CPA and our Interim Constitution, particularly the Penal Code, Criminal Procedures, Public Order, Popular Defense.
The SPLM shall continue to work in partnership with the NCP on the basis of the CPA. We will also work towards building national consensus and implementation of the Juba Conference Recommendations.
As we are in this political development, the SPLM is committed to finding lasting peace in Darfur, so that our brothers and sisters there can participate effectively in the general elections and democratic change in our country.
I ask again all the people of Southern Sudan, Southern Kordofan, Blue Nile and Abyei area and all members of the SPLM and all the Sudanese to remain calm. I hope that the NCP members in the National Assembly will respect the agreement reached by the political leaderships of the SPLM and NCP and pass the three laws as agreed by the National Council of Ministers without any amendments.
If the National Assembly insists on passing its own versions of the three bills, I will personally once more travel to Khartoum to try with President Bashir to avert any crisis that might undermine the CPA implementation, and if necessary we will urge for the extension of the lifespan of the National Assembly to enable it pass the acceptable versions of the three bills. The choice of our people is peace and the full implementation of CPA and we shall not let them down.
I therefore, call upon the international community to urge the NCP to pass without any changes the three bills as agreed by the two parties, and abide by the procedures adopted by the two parties to resolve any differences over the implementation of the key provisions of the CPA.
As you go home from this peaceful procession, I urge all of you to return peacefully and refrain from any violent acts against anyone and to respect other people’s lives and property.
Thank you very much.