Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Wilson Center hosts president of Southern Sudan for update on peace agreement

The Woodrow Wilson Center on November 7 hosted the event, “Sudan Update: Is the Comprehensive Peace Agreement Holding?” Present to speak was His Excellency Salva Kiir Mayardit, First Vice President of Sudan and President of the Government of Southern Sudan.

Mayardit said that Sudan has faced critical issues in implementing the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). The differences between the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) and the National Party is a major issue; it has resulted in the SPLM leaving the Government of National Unity in protest a few months ago

In the transition to democracy, Sudan needs to do many things that are not currently being done, His Excellency said. When it comes to the transformation process, the National Congress Party (NCP) is dragging their feet in accomplishing anything, Mayardit said, adding that this has served to water down the CPA. He also said that a major problem has been the lack of free and fair elections.

Mayardit also argued that any party from the south other than the SPLM would not accept the CPA, and the same goes for the north, thereby making it seem like there is almost a dictatorship within the country.

One of the major challenges facing peace in Sudan, Mayardit said, is the issue of oil and border definition. Oil revenue is supposed to be shared between the north and the south; however, the north has not been splitting its revenue in this way. Additionally, because the borders are hard to define, he said, they keep shifting southward to where more oil is located.

His Excellency also discussed the current situation in Darfur. He said that “Darfur is the new national identity of Sudan,” demonstrating that the country is a multi-ethnic rather than Islamic state. He also compared the current situation in the region to what Southern Sudan faced during the civil war.

When asked about the role of women in Sudan, Mayardit gave the floor to a female member of his delegation. She explained that the SPLM upholds the values and principles of justice and equality. In regards to the peace talks for Darfur, she said that if no Darfurian women had been included, the Southern Sudanese women would have given the President a hard time.

The relationship of the United States with Sudan was also brought up. Mayardit said the U.S. has been supportive of the CPA, and has given support to litigations. He added that the U.S. gave relief to the people of Sudan during the war. Regarding the U.S. role in Darfur, Mayardit said that America is not responsible for the situation because it is a Sudanese problem. He believes the U.S. should assist in whatever way the country is able.

The CPA is struggling, Mayardit said, adding that external pressure to form the peace agreement can cause the people of Sudan to feel as if they do not have ownership of it. However, achieving a sustainable resolution to the conflict in Sudan is critical, Mayardit stressed. “Peace in Sudan is key to peace in all of Africa, and the whole world,” he said.

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