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Statement by His Excellency Salva Kiir Mayardit at the Closing of the South Sudan National Dialogue Conference Freedom Hall Juba, South Sudan November 17, 2020
Esteemed delegates to this historic National Conference Excellences the Vice Presidents of the Republic of South Sudan,
Rr. Honorable Speaker of the Transitional National Legislative Assembly Rt. Honorable Speaker of the Council of States All Senior Government Officials,
Your Excellency Molana Abel Alier Kwai Kut, Co-Chair of the National Dialogue
Your Excellency Angelo Beda, Co-Chair of the National Dialogue The Rapporteur of the National Dialogue,
Hon. Bona Malwal Madur Ring Religious Leaders Members of National Dialogue Steering Committee and Secretariat Members of Diplomatic corps, Representatives of AU, UN and R-JMEC Distinguish Special Envoys from the region Ladies and Gentlemen.
I greet you all in the name of our country, the Republic of South Sudan.
On December 14 2016, I had the honour to launch this great event whose conclusion we are witnessing today. When this work started, not many people thought it would arrive at where we are today: sharing views gathered from the grassroots in the duration of almost four years on a national platform.
What this process has achieved is commendable and for this, I would like to thank the national co-chairs, Molana Abel Alier Kwai Kur and Hon. Angelo Beda for steady leadership they have provided during this process. I would also like to thank Members of Steering Committee led by Hon. Bona Malwal Madur and Amb. Dr. Francis Mading Deng for the incredible support they have given in guiding this process.
Let me also recognize the Secretariat of the Steering Committee for their efforts in ensuring grassroots views were gathered, documented and shared in this conference. Those involved in this process from its inception know that we have received substantial support from our regional and international partners.
I would like to thank these partners for overcoming doubts cast on the value of National Dialogu certain quarters from the star and for availing both material and technical resources to support us. Specifically, I would like to thank the Japanese Government for their contribution and UNDP for the stewardship it provided during this period. By the way, the Japanese are among few donors we have that do not attach strings to their support.
Last but not the least, I would like to thank you, the delegates who travelled to Juba from different corners of our country to participate in this conference. Your presence here signals your desire to contribute towards shaping the future of your country. Let me also congratulate you for candidly sharing your views at grassroots, at regional conferences and here at the national conference.
The issues you raised deserve full attention of your leadership. Ladies and gentlemen, Your views on numerous issues affecting our country at multiple levels: on governance, security, economy and social cohesion have been heard. There is no doubt that the outcome of National Dialogue represents the views of a broad cross-section of our society on the issues raised. This means there is no question about the legitimacy of this process.
With this in mind, we need to remind ourselves that what has been produced in this process must be harmonized with the Permanent Constitution making process, which is provided for in the Revitalized Peace Agreement. The Revitalized Peace Agreement is not merely an integral part of our Constitution, it is in essence our fundamental law itself, and all other processes, including the National Dialogue, must ultimately be reconciled with it. Yes, the National Dialogue has been broad-based bottom-up consultations.
The Revitalized Agreement on the other hand, came as a result of talks between political elites, which makes it narrower in scope. However, the Agreement has constitutional sanctirty that the National Dialogue lacks, despite its popular legitimacy. Therefore, we should not attempt to replace the agreement with the consensus reached through the National Dialogue, but rather use the National Dialogue as a guide to enrich the forthcoming Permanent Constitution-making process that the Revitalized Peace Agreement mandates.
the last four years of this national conversation have not been easy. At the beginning of National Dialogue, I was accused of using this process to dodge responsibility of finding a peaceful settlement to the conflict. Others, objected to this process on the basis that it was not inclusive enough, despite the fact that the process was designed to reach our communities where-ever they reside.
Today, the presence of these delegates in this hall, and the rich discussion that went on from the start of National Dialogue, and in the last three weeks here in Juba, clearly demonstrates that the accusations labelled against me and the process have turned out to be false.
The organizers of this national conversation, for example, have fulfilled their mandate as demonstrated by the cross-section of our society represented in this hall. The views expressed by you, the delegates throughout this process, have nor been approving of any party including, the SPLM that was accused of initiating National Dialogue to save its soul. The Peace Process I was accused of replacing with the National Dialogue is now under implementation.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am not raising these points to defend myself from what has been said since this process started, I am raising them as of way of sharing with you what I believe to be part of our problem.
What you have discussed in the last four years and the resolutions you have come up with in this process will only serve our country, if we re-assess ourselves in rwo critical areas. First, we need to re-assess our tendency to readily accept external models that ignore our history. Secondly, we also need to examine our attitude towards our laws and institutions.
Since 2005, we have been falsely assured that templates of thematic experience of what has worked for others will work for us. We have been told again and again to adopt these models by people who in most cases do not understand our context. At times, even those who know our experiences cannot resist to overlook our specific history in the quest for templates of what has worked in other countries. And when things do not go as planned, the same people rurn around and blame us for nor implementing what they have pushed with no consideration of our specific context.
I know we are all united in our aspiration for a democratic South Sudan, but let us work towards this goal within our specific context. Any whole sale adoption of any governance system as advised by thse seeking to import their model at the expense of our context will be counter- productive.
No governance system can endure if it is not shaped by its political environment. Ladies and gentlemen, Most of the failures that this national conversation has blamed on the SPLM leadership are rooted in our attitude as a people.
I am going to speak about few issues raised in the opening of this conference to illustrate my point on our attitude. Part of what determine progress in any society is the attitude of its population towards its guiding laws and regulations. The laws in our books are comparable to what exist in other countries, but have we really followed what these laws say. Has our attempt to enforce the law been welcomed in certain quarters? Take the 2013 crisis, this crisis would have been avoided if we respected what the law has stipulated.
The elections were two years away and because of our poor attitude towards our institutions, some of us decided it was okay to attempt to take power when the mechanism we have adopted for peaceful transfer of power was two years away. The SPLM government created the constitution, which was violated because of our attitude.
We forgot that the way we interact wvith our institutions promote or retard their development. As part of the broader reflection, let us look inwardly and work to correct our attitudes towards how we relate with our institutions. I would also like to briefly say something about the claim the liberators have monopolized everything, including power. This assertion is nor borne out by facts.
We have been inclusive politically since 2005. The SPLM/A from its start did not take up arms for personal benefit. Revolutionaries do not exclude because armed struggle itself entails death, and no one is ever sure they will make it to the day of victory. Revolutionaries fight for the people, including those who did not participate in the liberation. On the charge to liberators’ monopoly of power is the cause of our problems, there is another view from those who fought in the war that what is affecting this country is excessive political inclusion.
From these two contending positions, you can see what we have been doing all along is the balancing act between these two positions. We chose to maintain this balance because this country belongs to all of us.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Let me also say something in passing about the land issue, specifically on the background why the SPLM negotiating team in Naivasha insisted on the position that land belongs to communities, which was the basis of the most quoted statement from late Leader Dr. John Garang de Mabior on the same issue. The SPLM demand on communal land rights was intended to guard against the effeet of two Sudanese legislation on Land ownership, especially in South Sudan. The first law we were guarding against was the Unregisterrid Land At of 1970. This law stipulated that any unoccupied land belongs to the government.
This was done with total disregarded to traditional community ownership of land.
The Second law was the Civil Transition Act of 1990, which also denied any recognition of customary land rights and asserted that the land in the country belongs to Allah and the state was only the inheritor. I am not sure how many people among those championing exclusive communal rights to the land were this vocal when the two legislations I have just cited were enacted.
Sometimes, we need to reflect a little on our history before we decry certain issues. Stopping a little to think on the nature of some complains we make, may tell us, perhaps today is better than yesterday. We are still committed ro the principles we articulated on land issue in 2005, but that does not mean blanket communal claims to land ownership can be used to impede legitimate land allocation for national development.
I believe all levels of government can work jointly to ensure that communal ownership of land can co-exist with legitimate land development directed by government. There is more to be gained if everyone works together on this issue. Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to conclude my remarks by thanking you once again for making this conference a success.
I would also like to wish you safe trip to your respective areas across South Sudan. Please convey my sincere greetings to our people in your respective areas. As mentioned earlier, the ideas brought forth in this conference will form greater part of our discussion on how to build strong South Sudan. Be proud of yourselves, because you have done your civic duty. May God bless you all and our country, the Republic of South Sudan.
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