JUBA, South Sudan
Today marks 36 years since the founding of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army/Movement. On this historic occasion, I want to congratulate the people of South Sudan in general and the men and women of the South Sudan People’s Defense Forces (SSPDF) and the SPLM in particular.
As we commemorate this important national day, it is important that we pay respect to our fallen heroes and the heroines.
More especially, we are eternally indebted to the memory of our late leader, Dr. John Garang de Mabior, Cde Kerubino Kuanyin Bol, Cde William Nyuon Bany, Joseph Oduho and all the fallen founding members of our great movement.
In commemorating the founding of the SSPDF/M this year, I have a simple message:
I want to remind my comrades in the SPLM and those in various opposition groups that the vision for which we offered our lives is now realized; we have a country, we have set up a government, and we are fully in control of our destiny.
However, our people are now suffering deadly violence in our own hands as we seek self-fulfillment. We have completely abandoned our vision and we have turned against our people, and preying on them. We are selling the country for which millions have died. Majority of our people are now living in poverty.
Enough is enough. Let us set aside the greed for power, stabilize our country, return to democracy and give our people a chance to live in a country they deserve. The fighting that has engulfed our country over the last five years is extremely petty because it is a struggle for power.
We took arms against Khartoum-based governments so as to establish a democratic system, now we are against democracy and we are preoccupied with attempts to seize power violently or using other non-constitutional short cuts.
The way to stability in South Sudan is through democracy and democratic elections. And this is what we fought for, and we will not compromise it. Violent attempts to usurp power from the people would, of course, be met with violent resistance -and the cycle of violence cannot end.
The peace agreement we have just signed provides the opportunity for all the parties to work in good faith to implement it, and at the end of the transitional period is the elections. We should invest all our resources in making sure that we succeed in this transition, and the next government- after the transition -is by the will of the people through an internationally supervised elections.
Unless one has no confidence in his or her ability to persuade the voters, we should all stand for democratic elections, and those defeated should prepare for the next round. This is the principle of democracy. When power is sought outside the institution of democracy, it leads to violence, division and hatred. Power gained through legitimate means is peaceful, rewarding and dignifying.
Although democracy is not perfect, it allows for the building of consensus and provisions of rights -including minority rights. Democracy is simply a system of government based on compromise where; those who are in the minority accepts the choice of the majority. In fact, majority is not permanent because people always defect, and so in another election cycle, those who were once in the majority may become a minority, and a new majority takes power. This is what is so reassuring about democracy; no one loses permanently, and no one wins indefinitely. All things depends on the interest and the will of the majority.
This is the path we chose in 2010 -to go for elections. And another election was due in 2015, but those who think violent usurpation of power as the short-cut ruined this opportunity and dragged the whole country into war, in pursuit of self-gratification. We have now seen seeking power in this way is not viable and not tenable.
Having said this, I want to again reiterate that I have wholeheartedly forgiven all those who orchestrated the use of violence to seek power, and equally call upon you to forgive them.
The agreement we have in front of us has reconciled all the differing views, and we need to implement it with trust and confidence among us.
Let us now return to the path of democracy so as not to delay the development of our country. We should abandon investing in power wrangling. Instead, we should all invest in peace and democracy, and spread the benefits of freedom and independence to our people who deserve so much more from us.
If we work together, we all win and live a dignified life in our country. When we fight, we all lose, and we bring shame to our country and ourselves.
I strongly believe that South Sudan can rise as a dominant economic force in the region and in the continent. All we need is peace and democracy –to achieve this.
We should all serve a higher purpose; that of making South Sudan a prosperous and peaceful nation which comes with the benefits of leading a dignified nation.
May the spirit of our liberation live on and guide us to prosperity.