The SPLM and Southern Political Parties Dialogue, Juba ,
8th – 12th Nov, 2008
The Theme: “Building Consensus for Peace, Stability and Development”.
Brief Update to the SPLM Chapters and Diaspora
Dear Comrades and Friends in the Struggle.
I greet you all and our friends in the name of our Beloved Country and in the interest of our people, Southern Sudanese (given the nature of this Report on the Southern Sudanese Political Dialogue) however, we continue to share with our marginalized people namely from the three Areas (Abyei, Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile States among other regions in the Sudan). My sharing with you is based on keeping you informed and involved. Our Diaspora people are very important to the SPLM. We know you are very far physically, however, we know you are always concerned and do care about our people back home, thus I share this few quotes from Comrade Salva Kiir, our leader and President and highlights of the speeches made by the 9 Southern political parties represented by their respective leaders and members in this very historic Dialogue Conference. Kindly note that this is not the full speech by the GoSS President or it is the full report of all speeches by the 9 Southern political leaders. However, it is in the spirit of timely sharing that I share this very brief report with you all. Kindly note that below are very crucial and encouraging quotes that I felt very strongly to share with you all. I highly urge you to share with all our people and friends that you may know. Indeed, Comrade Salva Kiir had a very moving and honest speech and we were all very encouraged in the Dialogue conference between the SPLM and Southern political parties in Juba, 8th – 12th November, 2008. Below are some excerpts. I also hope to share with you all the Resolutions once they are ready and for public.
On day one, Saturday, the 8th of November, 2008, our Chairperson of the SPLM, the First Vice President of the Government of the Republic, the President of the Government of Southern Sudan and C-In-C of SPLA, H. E. Gen. Comrade Salva Kiir officially opened the meeting extending his warm greetings and high appreciation of the Southern Political Parties Dialogue meeting in Juba and extending his hand for brotherhood/ sisterhood, cooperation, collaboration and his keen desire and wishes to work hand in hand with the other Southern political parties wherever they are to achieve unity in diversity and for the common interests of our People.
Comrade Salva begun with a moment of silence and prayer for all our fallen heroines and heroes, he paid special tribute to our Great Fallen Hero, the Late Comrade and Leader Dr. Garang de Mabior.
Comrade Salva further explained the progress of the CPA, the progress and challenges since the signing of the CPA. The SPLM, together with the 6 other Southern political parties and the NCP formed the Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS) this is per the CPA. He said it has not been easy, but he also said that a lot of achievements were made; I quote: “As you know, I do wear many hats. Sometimes I am called upon to speak as The First Vice President of the Sudan, sometimes as President of the Government of Southern Sudan, sometimes as Commander in Chief of the SPLA, and sometimes as a soldier, a husband and a father. Today, I am speaking to you as a Chairman of the SPLM and as a longtime member of one of the political parties which have developed over the years to represent and protect the will and interests of the people of Southern Sudan and other marginalized people of Sudan. In this hall today there is no need to call me “President” or “Excellency”, because here we meet as comrades in a common struggle. I speak to you today as an equal, and I speak to you in the knowledge that we all share the same great and noble task, which to represent the interests and will of the people of Southern Sudan”. He further said “I warmly welcome you all to this important conference. Seeing you all together today in this hall is a clear indication that we are more united now than at any time in the past. From our history, we know that our greatest threat to our unity is ourselves. Although we are members of different parties, we have many things in common. Most of us in this hall are Southerners and we share similar history of struggle for our own survival as people. This has been in many ways a bitter history and we have all suffered many losses.” End of quote. This was a very crucial entry point that our President begun by humbling himself and ensuring inclusiveness in the discussions – that we are all equals including himself.
This set the spirit and the mood towards the right direction for the leaders and representatives of all 10 Southern political parties (9 from the rest of the South and the 10th one is the SPLM). Comrade Salva went on and reminded us of the first South-South Dialogue in Nairobi (of which I also personally participated) in 2005 shortly after the signing of the CPA. During the April 2005 South-South Dialogue (which produced a Covenant of Southern political parties and civil society wishes and agreed upon points) we all agreed, Comrade Salva’s quote “the meeting recognized various grievances faced by our people and it was resolved that ‘to forgive and forget past grievances and open a new page’. [and]…’accept ourselves on an equal footing and unite together as citizens of Southern Sudan’.” End of quote. Comrade Salva further went on and shared that the formation of GoSS per the CPA was achieved in all levels in Southern Sudan per our Interim Constitution of Southern Sudan (ICSS) and the CPA. He further said that the decisions of the GoSS are based on consensus and not on mechanical majority. I quote Comrade Salva:”In the GoSS Council of Ministers, we have never differed in taking our decisions collectively and we sometimes forget during our deliberations that we represent different political parties”. Besides forming an inclusive GoSS, he added that GoSS established the Southern Sudan Peace Commission and the Southern Sudan Human Rights Commission. Furthermore, he added the GoSS formed other commissions including the Southern Sudan Disarmament, Demobilization and Re-integration (DDR), the Disabled, Widows and Orphans Commission, the Southern Sudan Land Commission and the Anti Corruption Commission among others. These commissions were formed with distinguished individuals from the SPLM, other political parties as well as civil society and independent outstanding persons. Comrade Salva also emphasized on the SPLM and GoSS extreme commitment to women’s issues, he shared with the political parties that constitutionally women have Affirmative Action of 25% in all levels. Comrade Salva, I quote “I am happy to share with you that I have personally taken it upon myself to be a watchdog for the protection of the rights of women”. End of quote.
On Security, Comrade Salva also touched on issues of security and stability in Southern Sudan as top priority in GoSS policy statement. He added that the SPLA continuous to be strengthened to protect us. He added that the GoSS is committed to mediate on the LRA factor so peace and stability is restored fully in the South and that the integration of Other Armed Groups (OAGs) continuous to strengthen the SPLA.
On Peace dividends, Comrade Salva talked of change everywhere and everyday in the South. I quote “We are seeing a considerable improvement in the living conditions of our people. We are seeing change everyday in Southern Sudan not through the efforts of the Government alone but also through people’s own initiatives and efforts of our development partners.” End of quote. Comrade Salva also admitted that, I quote “However, we need to do more, particularly in women and children’s health, combating poverty, provision of basic services (primary education, primary health, clean drinking water) and attainment of the MDGS (United Nations Millennium Development Goals), Comrade Salva added “It is not in the nature of this meeting for me to tell you which of these solutions have been implemented; these are issues we must explore together.” End of quote. On Inclusiveness and Governance, Comrade Salva said, I quote “I often hear people confuse GoSS with SPLM. This is a big mistake, and you should always correct it when you hear it. GoSS is a not SPLM alone – it is composed of many parties. We all share in the great task of building the government which our people deserve…we must not make the mistake of repeating marginalization which was forced upon us by those who sought to rule us from Khartoum or Cairo. We must do all we can to ensure that every region and every religioun is seen in the faces of our Government.” End of quote.
On Elections and not going back to war, Comrade Salva said, I quote “This is a heavy responsibility. In recent months, we have seen elections claim the lives of ordinary people in Kenya and in Zimbabwe. These are our elder sister nations, to whom we have looked for leadership and good examples for many decades. We in Southern Sudan must all appreciate the importance and difficulty of the task that lies ahead of us in 2009. We must all work together to ensure that this does not happen in Southern Sudan. Our people have suffered enough. Let us agree that not one drop of blood will be shed, in order to for our people to simply vote.” End quote. Comrade Salva also quoted the great Leader, the Rev. Martin Luther King by saying, I quote “the Rev. Martin Luther King made perhaps his most celebrated speech. In it, he said these famous words: ‘I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin by the content of their character.’ Yet, here we are today, awaiting the inauguration for the first African-American President of the United States. Americans, who never thought they would see this day, are dancing and crying in the streets. In fact, the long-ago dream of the Late Rev. Martin Luther King is about to come true. I ask here that you join me in a round of applause for President Elect Obama and for the wisdom of the American people in living up to the values of democracy, justice and equality.” End of quote.
On Tribalism, Comrade Salva said, I quote “We must accept that tribes are the basis of our social fabric and we must promote all our rich diverse cultures. But tribalism is a cancer on our unity and we must do whatever possible to contain it. Tribalism causes us to look at ourselves outside our vision of one united Southern Sudan as our only tribe. As leaders we do have a moral obligation to commit ourselves to fight tribalism. Let us all agree here to uphold the absolute principle of opposition to tribalism. We have a responsibility to educate our people, even when the lessons maybe unpopular at first. You have a duty to warn your supporters against cheap appeals to tribe or ethnicity. Reject such behaviour amongst our cadres; educate them in the lessons of our history. The parties which resort to such dirty tactics will surely earn the disrespect of our all our people.” End of quote.
On Corruption, Comrade Salva emphasized on the GoSS’ and his personal total commitment to zero tolerance to corruption and that 2009 is declared a year of no corruption and decentralization of all services delivery to the states and counties and villages of Southern Sudan. He said, I quote; “As I have said many times before, corruption in government will never be tolerated. Every time a government official engages in a corrupt act it reduces our ability to deliver critical services to our people and it diminishes our commitment to the selfless sacrifices of our martyrs. No one would claim that corruption has been eradicated, but our government and my personal commitment to do so is sincere. The people of Southern Sudan have faith in our ability to combat corruption and I am committed to live up to that faith. I pledge to back, with the full weight of my office, the efforts and programmes of our Anti-Corruption Commission. As leaders of political parties, I would urge you to adopt the fight against corruption as our collective election agenda”. End of quote.
On Referendum to the Right of Self-determination, Comrade Salva said, I quote “the right of self-determination for the people of Southern Sudan and Abyei is a constitutional right that we are obliged to protect. As President of GoSS, it is my commitment that the people of Southern Sudan exercise this right timely and in a transparent manner and to ensure as well that the outcome of the referendum is respected and implemented. The realization of the right to self-determination came as a result of a long struggle of all people of Southern Sudan and the SPLM has crowned such struggle in the CPA….As I mentioned during the public lecture on referendum, we do not have any other option but to have one united position and consensus around referendum and let us not let down our people.” End quote.
Comrade Salva concluded by saying, quote “Let us walk together in the footsteps of our lost leaders, our fallen martyrs and our millions of unsung heroes and heroines. Les us proudly follow the path which they marked out, towards united, democratic, prosperous and inclusive Southern Sudan and optimistic future which has been our dream for so long. And even if times are difficult and progress is far from smooth, let us not forget our beautiful dream. Because we have the capacity; working together, to make our dreams a reality. Remember, Martin Luther King’s call of “I have a dream”. The answer came 45 years later, from Barak Obama, who insisted “yes we can!” We are all Southerners; let us all stand together to defend the rights and the will of our people! Thank you and May God bless you all in this important work”. End of quote and speech.
After Comrade Salva Kiir’s speech, the Southern political parties begun with a few remarks and opening very brief opening speeches, the Southern political parties’ leaders preferred to defer their detailed speeches to the second day. However, they briefly made opening remarks and speeches on Day one. On Day two, of the Conference, Sunday, 9th November, 2008, the 9 Southern leaders representing their respective political parties spoke.
We begun our second day with an abound spirit of honest and constructive dialogue, openness and encouragement of one another as per the first day (8th Nov, 2008). The SPLM being the main facilitator and main organizer of this Dialogue Conference had prepared for some months now together with the organizing committee representatives from other Southern political parties. The Organizing Committee then decided to give the new Southern political parties more time to speak, these new parties included: 1. The Sudan Labour Party (SLP), 2. African Congress Party (ANC) and 3. South Sudan Democratic Front (SSDF) (note this is different from the SSDF of South Sudan Democratic Forum an older party). Interestingly and kindly, the Conference Mistress of Ceremony, Mrs. Nora Edward, the newly appointed SPLM Secretary for Social Welfare and Gender ensured that after every Southern political party leader’s position papers were presented that Ms. Nora highlighted how constructive and moving the political leaders’ speeches were, she really brought out the ‘goodness’ and our commonalities as Southern Sudanese. Ms. Edward ensured to highlight the good points raised by the leaders of the different political parties in their respective presentations (brief) of day-one (8th Nov, 2008).
The Southern Political parties positions were begun by one of the newly registered political parties; the Sudan Labour Party (SLP). Other parties that spoke included all 9 Southern political parties, these were: 1. SLP. 2. South Sudan Democratic Front (SSDF Front), 3. African National Congress (ANC), 4. UDSF, 5. The Democratic Forum, 6. UDF, 7. USAP 2, 8. USAP 1 and 9. SANU.
All of the above 9 Southern political parties talked of the serious need to put efforts towards ensuring the unity and peaceful co-existence of the Southern political parties and Southerners generally in ensuring the CPA’s success crucial. They also said that a transparent vision towards the unity of the Southern political parties’ efforts among and within the South and the rest of the Sudan is crucial; it is important that the GoSS (in Juba and other levels) to ensure inclusion of all including the public, women, youth and students among others. They added that the unification of the fronts inside the South and the equitable distribution of peace dividends, unity and non-tribal society in the South are crucial towards the Referendum attainment. They also added that civil administration in all levels must be based on democratic transformation, respect for the rule of law and human rights. On the Right to self-determination, they all agreed that all Southern political parties must acknowledge that the SPLM is one of two CPA signatories (the other one being the NCP) hence, they fully support the SPLM to take the lead in safeguarding the Right to self-determination in the South and Abyei and also the Popular Consultations exercise in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile States. All the 9 Southern parties in their respective presentations agreed that the unification of purpose and in diversity of our people among the Southerners is a must. The Southern political parties leaders also emphasized on the seriousness for real democratic transformation, good governance, peace and unity. Dialogue is the most vibrant way to achieve these basic fabrics of our unity. Let’s dream for change and pushing for this. They urged the SPLM and the Southern parties to facilitate for modalities of cooperation, tolerance, de-tribalization and the respect for human rights. On the CPA, the Southern political parties’ leaders urged that the lack of the Government of National Unity in Khartoum to acknowledge the Abyei Commission report is a critical violation of the CPA. They said that Abyei, just like Southern Sudan has a right to self-determination in Referendum of 2011. On Census result, the Southern political parties said that the 2008 Census was not transparent and not inclusive by Khartoum. And that the North and South borders must be clearly demarcated to prepare us for 2011 Referendum. All political parties agreed that we must begin the road to unity of all Southern Sudanese; we must protect and defend the CPA. They all agreed.
In conclusion, dear Comrades in the Struggle, I would like to sincerely and strongly urge you all in the Diaspora to unite our people in diversity. We all are from different tribes, different ethnic backgrounds in the South, we are also of different ideological and political backgrounds – but we have one thing in common: the love of our people in Southern Sudan, Abyei, Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile, Dar Fur, Eastern Sudan among other marginalized people in the Sudan. Let us all work together in our different capacity to unite and harmonize our people. Let us be agents of change – change for a better and transformed society that is based on justice, peaceful co-existence and equality for all.
Kindly share the contents of this very brief report of an extremely important and historic event; the Conference of Southern political parties on “Building Consensus for Peace, Stability and Development”.
Keep up the good work of representing our people internationally and globally. We all need one another in this struggle to achieve our dream, that one day we will be free and prosperous democratic people like all other people of other nations.
Thank you for reading and for your time. God bless!
National Secretary for External Relations
The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM)
Please note for all: (apologies for repeating for our comrades who already know, however, this is intentional for our friends who may not know): The SPLM is the main ruling party in the Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS). However, GoSS is a coalition government of 6 of Southern Sudan’s 10 political parties. This was the case because during the formation of GoSS in 2005 (after the signing of the CPA) the other 3 new political parties were not yet registered and operational. We do sincerely hope that this Dialogue Conference Resolutions’ will come out consensus that will ensure more equitable representation and inclusiveness for all. Thank you and keep up the noble work!