Date: 6 June 2013
STATEMENT OF THE CHAIRMAN OF SPLM-DCONTHE FOURTH ANNIVERSARY OF SPLM-DC
June 6, 2013 (SSNA) — Allow me to extend my heartfelt congratulations to all members of our party on its fourth birthday. On this auspicious day we congratulate ourselves and our people for the great strides our party took in the last four years in the articulation of the interests of our people and their well-being. In so doing, we have met a lot of difficulties and faced tremendous challenges. These were to be expected; we never thought for a moment that the road to building our nation was strewn with roses and flowers.
In the last year we continued to sensitize our members on the issue of the re-registration of all political parties, but time has proved us wrong in thinking that this process was going to start last year. Till now the Political Parties Affairs Council has not yet been formed to kick-start the registration process. However, we should never relax, rather we should continue to prepare as if the registration will start tomorrow.
As a responsible opposition, your party continued to present objective opposition to the government’s policies and actions. We shall consider a few of them here. Your party opposed the shut-down of our oil facilities in January last year because the decision was not carefully studied. Although we were called names, time has proved us right, and although the oil is flowing today we need to be told what loans have South Sudan entered into in the period that preceded the resumption of oil flow which accounts for 98% of our budget. This is necessary, not only for the sake of transparency, but also to readjust our budget accordingly. Nobody in his right mind will buy the idea that the austerity measures were running only on the remaining 2% of the budget.
Last June, the Parliament passed a resolution that the 75 persons the President had accused last year of having stolen $4 billion dollars be investigated. The resolution remains unimplemented and we have not heard of a follow-up from the august Parliament. We call upon the Executive to honour this resolution, especially that it was in response to the wishes of the President in the policy statement he delivered before the House. In September last year, the Government signed a cooperation agreement with the Sudan on the outstanding issues between the two countries. This was followed in March this year by the adoption of the implementation matrix. While we applaud the positive steps made, we urge both sides especially our government to speed up agreements on the remaining issues, especially the borders and the status of Abyei. On human rights, a lot remains to be desired. The assassins of Isaiah Abraham are still at large, the press continues to reel under the security’s interference in what is should and should not publish, and the violation of citizen’s rights continue with impunity. The government must match its words with deeds in this area and other areas.
The National Constitutional Review Commission was formed in January last year; nine of its members were to be permanent. Out of this nine the SPLM gave itself six. Everybody assumed that SPLM-DC, being the official opposition, would have got at least one out of the remaining three. This was not to be, which showed the lack of appreciation that constitution-making is a consensus-seeking exercise. The Party lodged a protest with the President so that this anomaly is rectified, but to no avail. This is why the Party is not represented in the commission. We shall join the commission when and only when we get our rightful place in it. A commission that does not include the official opposition in its membership cannot claim to have a moral authority to write the country’s constitution.
We also seize this opportunity to commend the President on granting amnesty to the rebels that were fighting the government. However, in order for this gesture of good will to render the desired results, we should look into this step as part of a broader approach to bring about national reconciliation and healing. To get to a lasting solution of this endemic rebellion, the rebels need to be engaged in dialogue/negotiations so that their concerns are addressed. More, importantly, we urge the President to release all political detainees so as to give reconciliation its true meaning and so that together we start a new page towards building our nascent state. In this respect, the upcoming Reconciliation Conference should be seen as the forum that will build a new consensus of South Sudanese as we did in 2010 prior to the referendum on Self-Determination. Therefore, the preparations to hold this conference have to be led by a preparatory committee composed of all the political parties and civil society including faith-based organizations and institutions.
Our country has suffered from insecurity for too long. We must all together do our bit to stamp it out in order for our people to enjoy peace which is a prerequisite for development. As such we must address once and for all the issues of inter- and intra-tribal conflicts and armed rebellion through political rather than military means. We need to remind ourselves that the first and foremost responsibility of any government is to provide both personal and collective security to its citizens. The government must therefore have the monopoly over all means of violence. This is why the SPLM-DC remains opposed to arming civilians for whatever purpose; it is a double-edged sword as our experience has clearly shown. The government is solely responsible for providing protection to all its citizens and all of us should help it do so.
Dear Members of the Party,
Our members were under considerable stress last year, when our detractors were spreading rumours around that the Party will not be registered. This was meant to create discord in the Party. Unhappily, this propaganda was picked up by some weak-kneed members in the Party. Despite that our members remained firm on what the Party stands for. They never wavered or faltered. I take this opportunity to congratulate all members of the Party for their vigilance. We must continue to persevere on our path to change. Change has never been easy.
As I said last year, we should continue to preach togetherness and consensus-building. In this respect we are very much ready to cooperate fully with the government. However, as the Opposition party we must continue to highlight and sponsor the needs of our people and their concerns. There is no contradiction between the two positions. Our opposition is constructive through offering viable alternative policies to what the government is offering.
Finally, we wish you every success in the new year.