B Malwal Pleads For Delay of Referendum

"I rather we had a short time delay to have a peaceful referendum than to enforce it on ourselves by war;"

(Gurtong 20,10, 2010) - Bona Malwal Madut: 9 JANUARY 2011 AND THE RIGHT OF THE SOUTH TO SELF-DETERMINATION:


Mr. Chairman of This South Sudanese Conference on The referendum on Self-determination, let me appreciate your giving me this opportunity to say something about the subject of our meeting here today. Before proceeding further, I want to sincerely and wholeheartedly thank my younger brother, The President of the Government of Southern Sudan, brother Salva Kiir Mayardit, for convening this extremely important meeting of South Sudanese political leadership, at this rather very late hour of the day, to discuss and hopefully agree the consensus on how we should prepare for the vote on Self-determination.

I wish this meeting had taken place much earlier, so that we should have had the time to mull over this very serious matter. We would have had the time and the opportunity to consider and discuss many matters connected with this most crucial issue of the future of the people of South Sudan. Now that we have no time, let us concentrate our minds on what to do, in the less than three months left to the date of the referendum.

Let me confess to you, Mr. Chairman, that I had debated within myself, whether or not, to take this floor in this conference today, to say what I am about to say, for two reasons:

First, I know that my political detractors have made of me what I have never been. As a person, I am now, perhaps the most vilified South Sudanese alive, at least within certain limited quarters in South Sudan, for doing, or saying what I believe in. There are always several angles to any issue and one should always look constructively and objectively to all matters up for discussion.

Unfortunately, most young political activists of South Sudan today, think that we should look at the other point of view, as that of someone who is a sellout. Nevertheless, I want to share with you, my dear brothers and sisters, my personal concern about how we are moving. I pray to Almighty God, that there will be enough of you in this hall today, who will, at least ask yourselves why I am raising these matters. I plead with you, to discuss them constructively.

To begin with, let me register a few basic facts that we all know and on whom we all should agree upon. These facts should help us in the sober discussion of the issues before us:

1.The Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) is a solid and lasting peace agreement. Nothing dissolves the CPA, whether we have a referendum on 9 January next year or in another month following January. Nothing in The CPA says that the right of the South to Self-determination will come to an end on 9 January, 2010 whether or not the South has conducted the referendum on Self-determination by that date.

Self-determination is a very basic gain to the South under the CPA. Only when we have exercised it, will it come to an end. We cannot bring Self-determination back, once we have exercised it, even if things do not go right for the South the first time around. Self-determination is not a perpetual act, which the South can exercise repeatedly whenever it wishes to do so. That is why we must prepare for it well.
2.The CPA is now a basic constitutional document, which can only be changed, if the South Sudanese vote for their separate independent state, at the referendum on Self-determination on 9 January. Independence is one of the options the South has in the referendum. The other choice is unity.

The CPA provides that if the South votes for unity, the power sharing arrangements, which give South Sudan an internal independence under the CPA will stay and will continue. In other words, if the South chooses unity, the very strong autonomy, which the South has enjoyed for the last six years, under the leadership of President Salva Kiir Mayardit will continue to be the constitutional order of the day in Sudan. It is important, to state this fact, so that no one doubts the solidness of the South Sudanese constitutional status under the CPA;

3.Thirdly, as long as  none of the two signatories to the CPA, The National Congress Party (NCP) and The Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement (SPLM), has renounced the CPA, this very solid constitutional document will continue to guide the relations between the NCP and the SPLM, until these two parties work out better alternatives and evolve new arrangements by agreement. The CPA is, after all, now part of the national constitution. It cannot be removed through the whims of only one party.

Having stated the above facts, I want to plead with this august conference, that we still lack behind, on many matters that we should have done to prepare ourselves for the referendum. We should seriously consider these things. After all, we had faltered for more than two years, over the matter of the general elections all over the country. Election was also an important CPA requirement, to make democratic transformation possible in the country. As long as none of the two parties to the CPA reneged on the election, we eventually had the election.

I, therefore, want to advance the argument to your august conference, that we take a little time, perhaps not as long as we did with the election, but we need sometime, to prepare better for this crucial vote on Self-determination. I know that the NCP is also adamant that it wants the referendum on Self-determination on time, although it has now staged that commitment on an impossible list of pre-conditions. We now have the referendum commission; let us leave the commission to give us the time table for the referendum in accordance to the provisions of the referendum law and not to pressure the commission to shorten the time table to match 9 January next year. I want us to seriously consider and to resolve some of the following issues before we conduct the referendum on Self-determination:

(a) Unless the common borders between the South and North are properly demarcated and agreed upon by the two CPA partners, we are putting the outcome of Self-determination in a serious jeopardy. The borders between South Sudan and Northern Sudan are not the classic borders between any other two neigbouring states, each with its own way of life.

The borders between the South and the North in Sudan, are extremely intricate borders that are in themselves the means of livelihood for the people who live along these borders. The borders between the South and North, are largely water and grazing lands for the tribes of South Sudan and Northern Sudan who own livestock. These borders need proper demarcation, if we are to avoid border problems that are bound to occur.

The border demarcation and the rights and privileges of those who live across these borders, have to be properly agreed upon and regulated in advance.

Unfortunately, the tribes who live across the common borders between the South and the North, sometimes take matters into their own hands, without recourse to either law and order, or even to government authority itself;

(b) Grazing and watering of animals across these common borders need to be agreed upon in advance of the referendum, if the would be two independent states of what is currently one Sudan are to live in peace on their common borders.

The leadership that runs South Sudan today, are the same leadership that fought the long war of liberation for the people of South Sudan. They have experienced and witnessed the agonies of war for our people. I hope they will pursue the difficult path to peace in the implementation of the remaining steps of the CPA, rather than precipitate another war for the people of South Sudan;

(c) Very large parts of the very long stretched common borders, between the South and the North, are agricultural lands. It is important to properly demarcate them before the referendum, in order to avoid land conflict tomorrow;

(d) Mother nature has unfortunately endowed the border lands of South Sudan and Northern Sudan with much talked about underground mineral resources, be these resources oil or other minerals. Although it is stated clearly in the CPA, that the borders between the South and the North, should remain as they stood on January 1st. 1956, this lofty statement is challenged by the problems arising from areas like Kafia Kenji, which is supposed to be part of South Sudan, but was annexed by the Abboud military regime in the 1960s, from Bahr el Ghazal in the South, to Darfur in the North. Challenges to the 1956 borders between the South and the North, are already being orchestrated across the borders with Darfur, not by the North, but by local Darfur politicians. We need to demarcate the borders properly before the South exercises its right of Self-determination, to avoid perpetual border conflicts.

While it is obvious that there will be political leaders on both sides of the borders who would like to politicise every issue that needs to be resolved between the South and the North, we must do every thing possible to minimize causes for possible conflict flare-ups tomorrow.

Experiences of recent past have shown that when the leaders of the SPLM and the NCP put their heads together on a problem, they come up with a solution. I rather we had a short time delay to have a peaceful referendum than to enforce it on ourselves by war;

(e) Already, existing minerals, oil in particular, have become so politicised that it is important to work out both the short and the long term sharing, or lack of sharing of these resources by agreement, before the referendum, rather than by imposition from one side, because that is likely to lead to war;

(f) There are other matters that fall under the post referendum arrangements, which would best be agreed upon before the referendum, rather than after. These matters would include the large foreign debt and the arrangements for the of oil etc;

Finally, the issues of citizenship seem not to have taken much of our thinking and time, as the leadership of South Sudan. Because the civil war between the South and the North had been so long and there was, perhaps so much to do during the six years interim period, the interim period of the CPA has just come to an end, without properly preparing our people for what to expect for their future. The future of an individual citizen, in a country like South Sudan, where both enlightenment and the means of livelihood are very scarce for the individual, the state must take some responsibility for the welfare of the individual citizen. We need to take some long view about what to do for the individual South Sudanese citizen in Northern Sudan, before we get to the referendum on Self-determination.

What happened in distant lands that had similar experiences to our own now, need to attract our attention. We all know what had happened at the cross over by Muslims across India, to the newly created Muslim state of Pakistan in the late 1940s. Kashmir continues to hound relations between India and Pakistan up to now, because of those cross over episodes of the late 1940s; we have witnessed events in recent times, in the former Yugoslavia- Bosnia, Croatia, Serbia and Kosovo. We cannot behave as if these things do not happen. We must, especially not dismiss that these things will not happen to us. We simply need to prepare ourselves to prevent those possibilities occurring to us too.

The ordinary South Sudanese in the North, does not follow debates about politics and security. Although the number of Northern Sudanese in the South is smaller than the number of South Sudanese in the North, it is also true, that in the event of the political upheaval, the innocent Northern Sudanese in the South can also become a victim of political violence. The South needs to safeguard against that;

(g) As to the general relationship between the South and the North, we should be very concerned, that we want to conduct the referendum on Self-determination under such a political tension between us and our partner in the CPA. The North is entitled to be suspicious about our intentions in the referendum, as we are indeed perpetually very suspicious about the intentions of the North.

Now, because of the very high pitched public mobilization that has taken place amongst the communities of South Sudan, it now looks to the average person in Northern Sudan, that the South wants to vote for separation in the referendum, in order to pursue hostilities with a vengeance against the North. That type of impression, false as it maybe, creates the feeling in Northern Sudan, that South Sudan will be a hostile neigbour as an independent state. Some careless utterances from a few of us in the South do not help matters.

So long as such an attitude of the North has no constitutional or legal way of undermining the process leading up to the referendum, let alone interfering with the right of the South to Self-determination itself, it should be in the best interest of the leadership of South Sudan, to defuse wrong impressions created in the North.

In unity or in separation, Northern Sudan is the most important neigbour of South Sudan. Prudence dictates that one does not intentionally aggrieve, let alone create hostilities with one’s most important neigbour.

Spending sometime before the exercise of the referendum, to take a step back, from what now appears to be an intractable state of political hostilities between the leadership of South Sudan and Northern Sudan, is in the long term interest of the people of South Sudan.

As we sit here in Juba, to debate our collective responsibility on the referendum for Self-determination, let us not forget our responsibility to our South Sudanese citizens in the North. We must always keep reminding ourselves, of December 1964, following the Clement Mboro plane delay to return to Khartoum from the South. We cannot also forget the bloody Sunday, following the death of the late South Sudanese leader- John Garang. Khartoum is always a flash point of violence for South Sudanese in the North. And there are many more South Sudanese in Khartoum than there are in any one spot anywhere in Sudan, including the South itself. We need to take steps, to enlighten and to prepare our people for their big decision on the referendum day, be that day 9 January next year, or another day a little short time later.

Although President Omer Hassan Ahmed Al Basher has recently publicly taken responsibility for the protection of the South Sudanese citizen in the North, as did President Salva Kiir Mayardit, about the protection of Northern Sudanese citizen in the South, in the event of the South voting for its own independence at the referendum, these things are sometimes better said than done. It will be at least helpful, if the South Sudanese political leadership undertakes the enlightenment of the South Sudanese population in Northern Sudan, about the consequences of reckless behaviour.

I make this plea to you, as the highest gathering of who is who in South Sudan. I do so, from the personal conviction, that the right of the South to Self-determination, which should be upheld by the political leadership of the South, which is all of you here assembled, should be exercised in the fullest protection of the security of the people of South Sudan. Otherwise, the life and the security of the citizen of South Sudan becomes only a tool in the hands of a political leadership in search of a political glory and not for freedom for all its citizens.

Once again, I want very much to thank, my dear brother Kiir Mayardit, for making this gathering of the South Sudanese political elite possible. I thank you all very much, my dear brothers and sisters, for listening to these views that I know, are at best controversial to some of you and at worst a voice of a sold out person. I leave the final judgment of my motives for saying these things to posterity and to God.

May Almighty God guide our deliberations in this conference to a success

RSS comment feed
20/10/2010, 11:23 PM
 - Posted by deng bak
There you are again !
I did not like Bona's speech for two reasons: first, I thought he was on probation .
Or in a process of self-realization . second , the speech is a kind of an empty form.
The "life and the security of the citizen of south is a tool " . As he said has never
been a tool , you guys ! I mean you . the citizen of south be real careful about that
statement it is too "dangerous"
Deng Rounraj
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