Full Text: Kiir’s speech at the conclusion of the National Dialogue Conference

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

President Salva Kiir Mayardit and opposition leader Dr. Riek Machar in Khartoum

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.

Esteemed delegates,

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.

President Salva KIIR Mayardit.

Full Text: Communique of the National Dialogue Conference held today

COMMUNIQUÉ

The SOUTH SUDAN NATIONAL DIALOGUE
NATIONAL CONFERENCE
JUBA, SOUTH SUDAN, 3RD—17TH NOV 2020

Nov 17, 2020 (Thessherald)–We, the 518 delegates, representing 80 counties of South Sudan, eminent persons, political parties, faith-based institutions, civil society, business communities, professional associations and organizations, representatives of organized forces, women and youth organizations, having dialogued in Juba from the 3rdto the 17thof November 2020 at the National Dialogue National Conference, under the chairmanship of Co-Chair, Hon. Angelo Beda;

Having deliberated on the agenda of the South Sudan National Dialogue National Conference;

Appreciating H.E. President Salva Kiir Mayardit and the Government of South Sudan for initiating the National Dialogue process and providing the political, financial, and material support necessary for its success;

Acutely aware of the divisive and bitter conditions created by the political and ethnic conflicts in the country;

Recognizing the importance of the R-ARCSS as an important step towards ending the political violence country;

Deeply concerned of its slow implementation and persistent incidents of violence across the country;

Calling on the parties to expedite R-ARCSS implementation, especially the unification of forces, formation of state and local governments, and reconstitution of the national parliament;

Appealing to SOMMA and the government and all the parties to the Rome Initiative to negotiate in good faith and to expeditiously reach an Agreement in order to consolidate peace in the country and to prepare for democratic elections;

Cognizant of the hardships facing our people in refuge and displacement camps and desiring their speedy return to their homes;

Aware of the dire and appalling economic conditions in the country and the urgent need to improve these conditions;

Fully recognizing the sheer weight of responsibility placed on the delegates to the National Dialogue National Conference to pull the country together and unite the people of South Sudan;

Inspired and guided by the objectives and principles of the National Dialogue, the Conference reached the following resolutions and recommendations:

On Governance

The Conference,

Adopts a mixed federal system with full political, administrative, and financial powers to the states and restricts federal interference in state affairs;

Resolves to establish 32 plus states to meet the legitimate aspirations of the people of South Sudan;

Decides to share all financial resources between the states and federal government and allocates 20% net revenue share to natural resource producing states;

Endorses a presidential system of government with appropriate limitation to the presidential powers;

Approves two consecutive five-year term limits for the president, starting with the next presidential elections;

Affirms strict adherence to the normative principles of constitutionalism, including the separation of powers among the most three arms of government: the executive, legislature, and the judiciary and further recommends credible independence of the legislature and the judiciary from executive interference;

Disallows concurrent service in the parliament and the executive and recommends that any member of parliament appointed to an executive position must resign from parliament and be replaced by the constituency through by-elections within 60 days;

Restricts appointment of judges by president to only those judges recommended by the Judicial Service Commission;

Reaffirms the transferof power only throughlegitimate, timely, free and fair democratic elections;

Calls upon the government to recalibrate its diplomacy and foreign policy as a reflection of its domestic agenda;

Calls for the establishment of an independent election commission to organize and conduct the next elections

Recognizes the importance of land to the people of South Sudan and declares that land is owned by the communities and shall be managed by various levels of government in accordance with the law;

Demands that the government urgently resolves land disputes between ethnic communities through recognition of boundaries as they stood on January 1, 1956;

Resolves that state and communal boundaries must be managed and demarcated by the national government as they stood on the 1st January 1956;

Decides to criminalize the abduction and trafficking of children and calls for an immediate enforcement or enactment of laws against the practice;

Endorses the results of the Abyei Referendum and calls on the government to ensure speedy and final settlement of the status of Abyei.

On the Economy

The Conference,

  1. Resolves to urge the Government to exert more efforts in stabilizing peace and in restoring macroeconomic stability within the overall framework for sustainable peace, economic growth, and poverty eradication;
  2. Calls for the diversification of the economy by making agriculture the engine of growth and using oil revenues to fuel this engine through investment in roads, telecommunication and electricity;
  3. Recommends to the Government that it adopts a clear economic development policy and strategy;
  4. Resolves to equitably share financial resources between federal and state governments.
  5. Demands that the government and oil companies immediately address environmental, social and health problems created by oil production;
  6. Calls for an urgent enactment of an environmental law that mandates environmental and social impact assessment before any development projects are executed;
  7. Appeals to the government and companies to conduct development activities in line with sustainable development principles so that it does not jeopardize the needs of present and future generations.
  8. Calls for the establishment of an electronic payroll system in the government institutions;
  9. Resolves to urge the Government to respect and ensure the independence of the National Revenue Authority (NRA);
  10. Calls on the Government to modernize gold exploration, mining and processing;
  11. Recommends to the Government to exert efforts to increase local food production for domestic consumption and export to increase supply of hard currency in the country;
  12. Appeals to the government to strengthen social safety-net programs through the establishment of cooperatives with the aim of alleviating the cost of living;
  13. Recommends the empowerment of women and youth through the establishment of microfinance institutions to expand access to credit and promote inclusive growth;
  14. Demands that the Government establish strategic industries to increase the supply of high value goods and services;
  15. Expresses serious concern about pervasive corruption in South Sudan and calls on the government to consider corruption as a national emergency.
  16. Calls for strengthening legal, institutional, and regulatory frameworks to ensure accountability and combat corruption and impunity and therefore demands institutions such as the Judiciary, Legislature, Anti-corruption Commission to be strengthened to investigate allegations of corruption and persecute;
  17. Resolves to demand the establishment of special courts to deal with corruption and money laundering cases;

On Security

The Conference,

  1. Calls for an immediate end to all forms of hostilities in the country and urges all armed groups to end violence and seek peaceful means to address their grievances;
  2. Calls for the Transformation of the Security Sector in South Sudan through creation of a Professional National Army and other organized forces,through recruitment of South Sudanese from all regions and ethnic communities;
  3. Appeals to the government to strengthen military justice system to punish those charged with corruption in the army and organize forces;
  4. Strongly urges the government to improve salaries of all the organized forces; address their social welfare needs; and provide them with counseling and psychosocial support;
  5. Expresses serious concern about the impact of small arms and light weapons in the hands of civilians and strongly recommends comprehensive and simultaneous civilian disarmament across the country that involves the chiefs, youth leaders, politicians and the United Nations in the process and use modern technology for effective disarmament;
  6. Strongly Urges the Government to establish military barracks, provide decent housing, health insurance services, social fund for the care of soldiers’ families, widows and orphans left behind;
  7. Strongly Condemns cattle raiding and related killings and recommends that the government formulates and implements policies against this practice;
  8. Recommends to the government to strengthen military economic corporation to produce food for the army;
  9. Strongly disapproves of violent means for seeking power and mobilization of ethnic communities for the same purpose;
  10. Appeals to the Government to improve and strengthen diplomatic ties with all the neighboring countries, strengthen institutions for immigration control; sensitize communities living along the borders to support its effort to control illegal flow of arms; severely punish those involved in arms trafficking; and ratify the International Treaty on small arms and light weapons control;
  11. Calls on the Government to urgently take control of South Sudan air space to strengthen our sovereignty and security;
  12. Recommends that the government addresses persistent insecurity in the country through the creation ofjobs and improve the agricultural sector to keep youth in gainful employment; stop rewarding rebels with high military ranks and stop rampant integration of militias into national army and other organized forces.

On Social Cohesion

The Conference,

  1. Resolves to urgently call on thegovernment to expedite the enactment of legislation on the establishment of truth, healing and reconciliation commission;
  2. Appeals to the government to urgently undertake repatriation prior to the end of the Transitional Period, provide compensation to those whose homes and properties were destroyed during the war, allocate lands for the returnees and settle land disputes before repatriation
  3. Calls on the cattle herders to follow the traditional consultation mechanism on movement of Cattle in Farming Communities and implement the Presidential Order to remove the cattle from Equatoria
  4. Calls on the government to immediately pass the legislation on the right of people with disabilities;
  5. Strongly urges the government to establish education centers for homeless children, orphans and strongly urges the government to care for the wounded heroes and allocate land for war windows;
  6. Recommends the promotion of Annual Cultural shows for all nationalities to promote national diversity; and to encourage inter-communal dialogues to promote peaceful co-existence among the communities;
  7. Strongly recommends criminalization of negative propaganda and hate Speech;
  8. Appeals to the Government to preserve and promote historical and natural sites, build museum, set up an archeological department to promote archeological studies and reclaim South Sudan’s arte-facts or archival materials in other countries such as the United Kingdom, Egypt, Turkey and the Sudan; and,

On Implementation and Follow-Up Mechanism

The Conference;

  1. Resolves to establish a High-level Monitoring and Evaluation Committee that shall report to the president and the parliament on the status of the implementation of the National Dialogue Resolutions.

The Fallacy of the so-called National Dialogue

Who would bell the CAT? |Photo: Adija Acuil

Analysis | By Dr. Lam Akol

November 10, 2020 (Thessherald)–On the 3rd of November, the National Conference of the “National Dialogue” was opened in Juba amid a fanfare that it represented the voice of the people of South Sudan. “Our people have spoken” was a recurrent and repeated phrase by the organizers of the Conference in self-congratulation for a job well done. But which people? Where?

The organizers of the conferences have not been to the areas affected by war. For instance, they have not visited large parts of Equatoria and Upper Nile regions, let alone talking to the people there. As a matter of fact, their Conference for Upper Nile region was held in Juba, not anywhere in the region. This was the clearest testimony that the claim that “our people have spoken” is at best partial.

To put the whole matter into perspective, it is important to trace the origin of this so-called “National Dialogue”. On 14th December, 2016 President Salva Kiir Mayardit announced before the Transitional National Legislative Assembly (TNLA) a National Dialogue conference to be held in Juba. The objectives of the exercise were set as ten points including to “end all forms of violence in the country”. He also stated that “the National Dialogue is placed within the framework of the Peace Agreement (ARCISS).’’ The initiative didn’t kick off until it was relaunched on the 26th of May 2017.

Whereas the concept of National Dialogue is one of the ways a country can choose to deal with the root causes of its problems, a credible dialogue cannot take place while the war is raging as was the case in South Sudan when it was anounced. It can only be meaningful when the country is enjoying peace. In fact, the National Dialogue was announced with the onset of the government’s dry season military offensive in December 2016 and relaunched together with a unilateral ceasefire declaration at the end of that military campaign in May 2017.

Therefore, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that it was intended to gain military advantage on the ground while hoodwinking the world into believing that the government was seriously pursuing peace. Furthermore, All the objectives spelled out in President Kiir’s speech before the TNLA, except “to end all forms of violence in the country”, are a mixture of matters related to the Constitution Making Process and issues to be discussed under Transitional Justice that are clearly dealt with under Chapters V and VI of ARCISS. Hence, these objectives could have been achieved with the full and faithful implementation of the peace agreement which he had vowed not to implement. In this context, it was obvious that the National Dialogue was meant to sidestep or replace ARCISS. The noises we hear from inside that conference today tend to suggest, if not confirm, that this “National Dialogue” is a substitute for R-ARCSS and its resolutions are final and ready for implementation.

This conference is not a new undertaking as people are made to believe. It is a continuation of the initiative announced in December 2016 and implemented in some parts of South Sudan since May 2017. Nothing proves that point more than the announcement from the organizers that the conference is to deliberate on the recommendations of the Regional Conferences and tabling before it documents related to those conferences and other meetings held by the organizers in some parts of South Sudan not affected by war. As we all know, the three regional conferences recommended the maintenance of Kiir’s infamous 32 States, a presidential system of rule, decentralized governance, etc. These are some of the issues the ongoing conference will discuss and take resolutions on.

The question is: what is the legitimacy of this coming-together?

The most fundamental point to be resolved first in all National Dialogues worldwide is to define its objective(s) and who the participants will be. That is followed by deep discussions between all the parties to work out the agenda, choose a steering committee and agree on the venue of the conference. The current “National Dialogue” overlooked all that. One party defined its objectives, appointed a steering committee and declared itself Patron of the dialogue. Now, at the last stage of its monologue, they would like other parties to bless its political position in the name of national consensus.

This is being clever by a half. Some of the organizers of this conference were delegates to or witnesses of the Round Table Conference held in Khartoum in March 1965 in order to resolve the Southern Problem. They know the steps taken and amount of energy expended in preparation to convening it. Therefore, the meeting in Juba cannot pass as a nationally agreed upon forum to deserve the name of “National Dialogue” whose resolutions are ready for the government to implement. Even if that was the case, our government is not a normal government that can claim a popular mandate.

The legal and constitutional basis of the Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU) currently presided over by Salva Kiir is solely derived from R-ARCSS. Therefore, its legitimacy and mandate stems from that agreement. R-ARCSS is the programme of the TGoNU and it cannot act outside it. Where do you anchor “National Dialogue” to R-ARCSS?

If this conference is to discuss constitutional matters, establishing state structures, reforming government institutions, etc., it must relate to RARCSS rather than claim to stand on its own or even supplant the agreement as some of its organizers have insinuated. The Revitalized Peace Agreement has provided for a forum to discuss our constitutional matters in an open, thorough and transparent manner. A full chapter, Chapter VI, is devoted to “Parameters of Permanent Consitution”.

It sets out the principles of the Permanent Constitution-making process, its phases, a preparatory committee for covening the National Constitutional Conference that will deliberate on the Permanent Constitution and the process of adopting the same. This is a consensual course agreed by the parties, not the conflictual course chosen by the patron and organizers of the so-called National Dialogue. It is the only forum acceptable by all to take decisions on the system of rule (parliamentary, presidential or mixed), what type of federalism, the number of States, etc. The provisions of R-ARCSS stand a better chance of being accepted by all because all are involved in the process.

Also, a whole chapter, Chapter V, is dedicated to “Transitional Justice, Accountability, Reconciliation and Healing”, very essential elements to get over the atrocities meted out against our people during the devastating war. It establishes transitional justice institutions: Commission for Truth, Reconciliation and Healing, the Hybrid Court for South Sudan and Compensation and Reparation Authority. Impunity must be fought through the courts, there must be genuine reconciliation predicated on truth telling, and the victims of the war atrocities deserve compensation.

The people of South Sudan will not be taken in. They will see the Juba meeting for what it really is: a futile attempt to impose one view-point on our people and sneak through the backdoor controversial issues that were at the centre of conflict in the country.


The author (Lam Akol Ajawin) a prominent South Sudanese politician and the leader of the National Democratic Movement (NDM).