Canada Thanked But Urged to Up Pressure For Peaceful Referendum

"Canada in particular must put political pressure on both NCP & SPLM so that the Abyei referendum takes place simultaneously with the referendum in Southern Sudan."

GoSS Principal Liaison Officer statement to the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development, Canada on October 26,2010, Parliament Hill

(Gurtong posted Nov. 3, 2010) - Chair Person, Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development, Canada

Honourable Members, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Committee for inviting me to this hearing. It is an honour to be here with you to talk about the impact of the referendum on the future of the Sudan

When the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) was signed on Jan. 9, 2005, it basically established an autonomous Government for Southern Sudan (GoSS) within a united Sudan. One of the most important provisions was Article 46 of the interim constitution of Southern Sudan.

The Liaison offices Abroad derives their constitutional mandate from Article 46 of the Interim Constitution which state that the government of Southern Sudan (GoSS) have the right to establish liaison offices, to engage, develop and maintain good bilateral and multilateral relations and cooperation with foreign governments, foreign non-governmental organizations and associations for mutual advantage in trade, investment, culture, sports, education, credit, loans, grants, technical assistance and other fields of development cooperation between the government of Southern Sudan and those countries.

My role and responsibilities as (GoSS) Principal Liaison Officer in Ottawa is to advocate to the Canadian Government on bilateral and developmental issues on behalf of the people and Government of Southern Sudan, and to inform the Canadian government on progress and challenges that are still facing the implementation of the (CPA).

The referendum on self-determination for the people of Southern Sudan and Abyei is a national event that will have a propound effect on the future of the Sudan as a country. The word Self-determination is a universal principle that the Government of Sudan has accepted to settle the issue of war between the North and the South in Nairobi Kenya in 2005; during the long difficult negotiations which was supported generously by the Inter-Governmental Agency for Development (IGAD) countries, the International Community, including the Canadian Government, “we thank you for that”. The National Congress Party (NCP) chose the path to self-determination over secularism during the negotiations in Kenya, for reasons known to them only.

The agreement provided the parties to the CPA with two options during the interim period of six years that:-
• The Unity of the Sudan must be made attractive to the people of Southern Sudan by the NCP dominated government in the North
• After six years, the people of Southern Sudan will exercise their democratic rights to either confirm the current Unity of the Sudan if it is made attractive or they can choose to form their own country through a referendum.

The question is: How did we reach to this stage of a referendum on self-determination for the people of Southern Sudan and Abyei?

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Sudan has been at war with itself for 40 years of its 54 years of Independence. The last 22 years, the war in Southern Sudan has been about the Unity of the Sudan. A Sudan that is secular and democratic, where:-
• Religion has no place in government
• Citizenship is not determined by the color of your skin, religious believes or region
• Justice, equality and peaceful co-existence is voluntary
• National wealth is shared equally
• Development projects are carried out equally in all parts of the country.
All the above in the current Sudan remains a dream.

The President of the Government of Southern Sudan H.E. Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit is prepared to have the referendum conducted on time as stipulated in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). He has established the Southern Sudan Referendum Task Force Chaired by the Vice President of the Government of Southern Sudan Dr. Riak Machar, to prepare the people of Southern Sudan for the referendum. 

The Task Force has established Post- Referendum negotiating teams to iron out the question of nationality, borders between the North and the South, national debt, national assets, international agreements, oil revenues and etc.

Just this month, because of the importance the Government of Southern Sudan attaches to the peaceful conduct of the referendum, the President convened a South-South dialogue with all the Political Parties in Southern Sudan to find a common ground.

He also issued a presidential pardon to those who have rebelled against the government in the South because of the results of the April 2010 Sudan’s general elections; his executive pardon was well received. This is in anticipation that the referendum is a historic event and the people of Southern Sudan must go to the referendum as one united body.

The NCP has not responded well to the quest for peaceful conduct of the referendum. The borders between the North and Southern Sudan should have been demarcated two years ago, but until today it has not yet been agreed upon. The 1956 borders are known to both parties that is why the 2008 Census and the April General Elections were conducted without borders.

The Government of Southern Sudan believes that the referendum can also be conducted without the physical demarcation of the borders.

The registration of voters for the referendum should have been completed three month ago, but, as we speak the registration is only slated for November 14th. The government of Southern Sudan believes in negotiations to any outstanding issues during the post referendum period and we appeal to the international community and Canada in particular to help both parties during the negotiations.

The case of Abyei!

The International tribune ruled clearly in 2009 where Abyei belongs. The NCP accepted the ruling but refused to implement the decision of the International Court, as we speak the Abyei boundary has not been demarcated and its Referendum Commission has not been formed. The International Community and Canada in particular must put political pressure on both NCP & SPLM so that the Abyei referendum takes place simultaneously with the referendum in Southern Sudan. The government of Southern Sudan and indeed the international community do not want Abyei to become a hot spot in years to come.

How will the referendum in Southern Sudan affect the Popular Consultations in the Nuba Mountains, Southern Blue Nile and Darfur?

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Government of southern Sudan and the SPLM party have in several public meetings said the Popular Consultations for the two areas is very important for the people in those areas to decide if the current arrangement is working. This is going to be carried out by the elected members of the State Legislative Assemblies within the respective State Parliaments. These Popular Consultations are to empower them and give them more voice in the decision making process in their States.

The issue of Darfur is completely different from that of Southern Sudan and Abyei, although there are similarities in how the war is being conducted. The people of southern Sudan are sympathetic to the people of Darfur. The President of the Government of Southern Sudan H.E Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardit, and the Chairman of the SPLM Party has stated clearly his desire to help in the mediation process, but it was rejected by the NCP Party. We hope that the government of Sudan will use the CPA module in southern Sudan to solve the issue of Darfur.

The conflict in Darfur is all about unequal development, unequal political representation in the decision making process in the centre, unequal share of national resources and wealth. The Government of Southern Sudan will continue to search for peace in Darfur even if the people of Southern Sudan decided to have its own country during the referendum. It is in the interest of the Government in Southern Sudan to have a viable neighbour in Northern Sudan

Lately, Sudan has received political attention from many countries as demonstrated on the high level meeting on Sudan that took place in New York at the UN headquarters organized by the UN Secretary General Mr. Ban Ki-Moon. During the meeting the International Community and Canada in particular has stated clearly that the referendum is a very important part of the Comprehensive peace agreement and any delay in the conduct of the referendum will not be acceptable.


If the referendum is either delayed or the result is disputed, the consequences will be great not only for the people of Southern Sudan, but the whole region given the fact that the former Ugandan Rebels, the Lord Resistance Army (LRA) are still a menace in some parts of Southern Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic and now Darfur.

The President of the Sudan Gen. Omar Hassan El-Bashier is on record saying he will be the first to recognize the wishes of the people of Southern Sudan should they vote for independence from the North. The people of Southern Sudan and the International Community will hold him accountable should violence erupt because of non-recognition of the result of the referendum.
 
The President of the Government of Southern Sudan and the people of Southern Sudan have stated clearly in many public rallies, that it will accept the result of the referendum should the people of Southern Sudan choose Unity over Separation. We expect the same from the North as well, although there are voices in the North that says otherwise.
 
What else can Canada and the International Community do to ensure that the referendum is credible?

Ladies and Gentlemen,

These will be my recommendation to this Standing Committee as you requested that:


• Canada and the International Community must send in election monitors to both Northern and Southern Sudan to help in the smooth running of the referendum process.
 
• We know that Canada is chairing the referendum “Basket Fund” for other countries to contribute money to support the conduct of the referendum, I believe Canada must help in the Capacity building process for the Government of Southern Sudan

• CIDA is taking a leading role in the humanitarian and development initiatives in southern Sudan and Abyei area. However, we would love to see Canada move beyond humanitarian assistance, to take a leading role as a middle power and an honest broker in pressurizing both parties to negotiate in good faith for the sake of peace in the region.

• We also believe that Canada must send a high level delegation in the person of the foreign minister to Sudan to acquaint himself with the situation on the ground, and we recommend that he visits Juba as well, working through the EU or the UN is not going to give Canada a clear picture of the issues in southern Sudan and Sudan in general.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

There are many cynics, who say Sudan is a married couple in angry divorce, so they are frightened of the violent fights, but we see Sudan as a mother giving birth to twins - once the labour pains are over, the two children can grow up as friends."

Thank you for inviting me to this very important hearing!

Joseph Moum Malok
Principal Liaison Officer
GOSS Mission to Canada
251 Bank Street suite 602
Ottawa, Ontario K2P 1X3
Tel: 613- 276- 2964 (Cell)
E-mail: joe.m.m.ngormalok@gmail.com,
Web site, www.gosscanada.org

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