The credit for this historical referendum goes to GOSS leadership under H.E. Ist Lt. General Salva Kiir Mayardit, all Southern political parties, civil societies, American government, EU, AU, IGAD, UN, and above all, to our volunteers in the South, who have worked under harsh conditions without or with little pay, traditional Chiefs, and our civil populations. I, like many other Southerners, are so grateful to our volunteers and civil populations to get it done.
But this is just the beginning of the many things that we, the people of South Sudan, will do together in months and years to come. Commitment and sacrifice are part and parcel of patriotism, citizenship, and community service. We have shown such togetherness and determination during the struggle era and we will continue to do so in an independent South Sudan.
If final results confirmed the secession, as expected, Southern Sudanese will finally begin to build an inclusive state base on political, economic, social, and cultural pluralism. And when this happen, all dreams, aspirations, and hopes of the so many Southerners would be realized. This realization of aspirations of the people will bring lasting peace and stability in our beloved land South Sudan.
Massive vote for secession of South Sudan is a tribute to our fallen heroes and heroines for their heroism in defending our land from Jallaba occupation. These heroes and heroines did not die in vain; they sacrificed their lives to free us from the very determined enemy. It is because of their determination and heroism that brought us the CPA and its core element, the REFERENDUM EXERCISE that will precisely and consistently confirm the fate our future.
Without their contribution, the CPA would not have been achieved. Thank God that we had brave men and women who never waivered since the first gun shot on August 18, 1955 in Torit and the last gun shot on August 31st, 2002 in Torit. Their braveness will never be forgotten and they will always be remembered by generations in years to come.
The massive vote for secession of the South Sudan is indeed a tribute to these heroes and heroines for their heroism and sacrifices. We are so proud of them. It will be our national duty from the outset of our national journey as of July 9, 2011 to remember them, especially when their widows, widowers, orphans, and their relatives’ needs and challenges are taken care of by the government and citizens as well.
It is evidenced in the last five years that nothing tangible was done to these disadvantaged groups, but this does not mean that they were forgotten; the challenges that we were facing were many and serious. This time would be different. Let just wait and see how things would work this time round.
Dr Francis Mading Deng, alluded earlier in his congratulatory message to President Kiir that, “the challenge now is for an independent South to realize the ideals of good governance: constructive management of diversity on the basis of full equality for all ethnic groups; promotion of inclusive constitutional democracy; respect for all human rights and fundamental freedoms; pursuit of fair distribution of resources, public services, employment opportunities; accountable financial management; and consolidation of peace through equitable socio-economic development.”
Dr Deng is right. If south secedes, basic services such as health care, sanitation, water supplies, electricity, quality education, and roads will need an immediate attention.
However, it would take a while to do all these since development is a process which will not be as fast as we want or expect.
The separation of the South from the old Sudan of exclusivity is very important because we will have government of the people, by the people that works for the people. This did not happen in the old Sudan where citizens were deprived of their rights by Arab minority elites who have been beneficiaries of the national resources throughout the history of Sudan since independence of the country from Britain in 1956.
Those who have registered and voted for secession should be very proud of their wise decision because their votes were not for anybody, but their own destiny and generations to come. This is a last fight with Jallaba to achieve enfranchisement; an ingredient denied to citizens of South by in the last fifty years of our union. The bigger challenge is what next after independence?
It is up to us South Sudanese to rise up to these challenges. The road ahead will be rough and tough as we will translate words into actions. The worst part was to get this difficult job, referendum exercise, done in a timely manner. And people of South Sudan have made history that has convinced the world, including the pessimistic players in the region and elsewhere. We prove them wrong that we are capable of doing things according to the international norms and standards.
During the first voting day, Jan. 9, 2011, one of the BBC correspondents in Sudan commented that this is very “positive start” of the independence. He was referring to the organization of the process and the civility of our people when they waited in line for hours in harsh weather conditions in the region.
In conclusion, an independent Southern Sudan will be free, stable, and prosperous in the region, especially when institutional structures are in place, which I believe will be established. The liberation of our land was always not going to be easy task, as some wish, it was always going to be difficult as we all witnessed.
The development of our independent South Sudan will too not be easy, but all our citizens’ aspirations, dreams, and hopes will be fulfilled when we have a viable system that recognizes and accommodates our diversity.
The core values of democratic society are tolerance, respect, equality, opportunity, accountability, transparency, inclusivity, justice, freedom, rule of law, equal application of the law, protection of minority groups, fairness, obligation, responsibility, and government of the people, by the people, and for the people.
These values were the objectives and principles that SPLA/SPLM fought for 22 years.
Once again, I want to thank our political leadership in the South for its steadfastness on the conduct of the referendum on time. Consistency, determination, commitment, and steadfastness are some of the characteristics of leadership. This is the kind of leadership we need in the South in years to come.
My thanks go to our civil populations wherever they are, especially of their roles in getting the referendum done, given the challenges that they faced in the process.