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FULL -TEXT | Speech of President Salva Kiir on  fifth  Governors Forum  

FULL -TEXT | Speech of President Salva Kiir on  fifth  Governors Forum

Excellencies Vice Presidents of the Republic,

Right Honourable Speaker of the Transitional Legislative Assembly,

Right Honourable Speaker of the Council of States,

Chief justice of the Republic of South Sudan,

Honourable Presidential Advisors,

Honourable National Ministers in attendance,

Honourable Governors and Chief Administrators,

Members of Diplomatic Community Accredited to the Republic of South Sudan,

Representatives of International Organizations and Development Partners,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good Morning/Afternoon,

I am honoured to have this opportunity to deliver closing remarks at the conclusion of this important forum. Let me begin by thanking the United Nations Development Program and other partners who supported my office to organize this forum. I must add that the UNDP has consistently provided firm support to us on many occasions. To UNDP, we value your partnership and I thank you on behalf of the people of South Sudan and the government I lead.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

I believe in the last six days you have had an ample time to deliberate on the theme of this forum: which centres on promoting dialogue and smooth communication between different levels of government.

I also believed that in your deliberations, you have arrived at actionable resolutions that will guide you and our nation as we move on with the implementation of the revitalized Peace Agreement. This is important because we are at the phase where we must collectively work to overcome challenges we face in executing common policies.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

In the last six days, you extensively discussed how dialogue could be used to enhance policy coordination. You also discussed how sharing best practices among states and administrative areas, the national government and development partners can be of great benefit.

I hope the discussions you had in these areas gave you the opportunity to recognize the urgent need to transition from humanitarian programming mode we had during the war to development support.

I am fully aware of the importance of humanitarian programming in saving lives during emergencies. However, we also know that humanitarian model focuses on band-aid solutions. It also does not allow for capacity building for its beneficiaries. For these reasons, we need to work with our partners to find ways of scaling back humanitarian programming and devote more energies to development support.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

Some of you may be wondering how this shift to development support will look like. At its basic level, all our development partners will be required to consult relevant government authorities when intending to initiate any program. This is essential because it will allow both the national and state/administrative areas governments to harmonize their priorities with those of our partners. It will also help us to observe regional balance in our service delivery.

Achieving harmony in this area will be a litmus test for genuine partnership. It will also foster meaningful collaboration at all levels between us and our development partners.

The second aspect we need to consider on this issue is: mismanagement of funds by government officials. This has been a sticky point between us and our partners. While work is still ongoing on public financial management reforms, our partners can retain power over the disbursement of their programming money until that time when they are confident in our ability to account for their money.

What they cannot do as stated earlier is design programs without consulting relevant government institutions. We will also object to any use of occasional setbacks in our path of peace consolidation to justify excluding government in any new programming area.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

Another critical aspect you discussed in the last six days was the role of States and Administrative Areas in the implementation of the Revitalized Peace Agreement. This point cannot be emphasized more to you. Each and everyone in this Hall recognize that war means break down of law and order. As governors and chief administrators, the bulk of your mandate centres on the restoration of law and order within your states and administrative areas.

You all know without law and order at the lowest level in your respective states and administrative areas, all we have achieved since February 2020 will be reversed. Without law and order, we cannot hold credible elections, which is the end game of the Revitalized Peace Agreement. We will also not be able to repatriate our citizens who are still residing in refugee camps in neighbouring countries.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

As I stated in this very same hall on 18th May 2021 while opening the NRA-State Governments Non-Oil Revenue Mobilization Conference, the concurrent taxing mandates between the national government and the state governments should not be taken as a pretext for unilateral, uncoordinated, inefficient or ineffective revenue collection policies, strategies and practices at any level of our government. Such a pretext, if not checked will result into an inequitable, non-transparent tax system with excessive tax burden on our people, with serious negative repercussions on investment, private sector growth, socio-economic development and the stability of South Sudan as one nation. Let us all uphold the supremacy of our national laws over state laws as provided for in Schedule E to the Transitional Constitution of our Republic in cases where there are any contradictions between our laws, until such time that the desired amendments are done.

On the matter pertaining to overlapping taxing powers between the national government and sub-national governments, which has of recent resulted into a heated public debate, and of which I am a very keen follower, let me guide as follows:
As a country governed by the rule of law, the Taxation Act, 2009 should be respected, strictly adhered to, and the National Revenue Authority, which has mandate to administer it, should not be interfered with by any national, state or county authority.
We are not oblivious to the fact that the work you are undertaking at states and administrative areas level has massive resource implication. We also know at times, this intensive resource need pushes some of you into revenue collection area, especially in areas assigned to National Revenue Authority (NRA).

The goal of NRA central collection of non-oil revenue is to allow the central government to have accurate forecast of revenue generated for budgeting purposes. Any attempt to decentralize non-oil revenue collection now will compromise this function and impedes ongoing reforms in our financial sector.

To ensure timely delivery of your commitments at States and Administrative areas level, I am calling upon the Ministry of Finance and Planning to redouble its efforts in prioritizing the release of money allocated to states and administrative areas.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

Let me also comment on the challenges we have with respect to the implementation of Chapter 2 of the Revitalized Peace Agreement. There are three challenges impeding faster implementation of security arrangements. One is an external challenge while the remaining two are internal challenges whose solutions are within our reach.

The first challenge is the arms embargo that has limited our ability to procure arms for troops in training camps. We have repeatedly informed the UN system about the negative impact this has on the implementation of Chapter 2 of the Agreement, and all we have received in return are more conditions that do not recognize progress achieved so far. As things stand, we will have no option other than to graduate these forces with sticks when the other two challenges I will speak to shortly are resolved.

The second challenge comes from divergent views on command structure of the unified army. Conventionally, army formation starts at the lowest level: from a squad all the way to a division. From this structural set up, it follows that the rank of commissioned officers must correspond with the levels of army units they are deployed to lead. For our case, there are parties who have submitted a list composed of senior officers, starting from colonel upward. If we accept such a submission, how will the leadership of a unified army be expected to maintain its coherence, accountability and control of personnel? We as parties to the Agreement should get this right by addressing issues of inflated ranks and unreasonable demands when discussing ways of constituting the unified army command structure.

The third and the final challenge is the failure of the parties to reach consensus on percentage allocation of the new unified army among themselves. There are those saying that 45% of the unified army be allocated to other parties while the government takes the remaining 55%. To us, what is consistent with arrangements in the Revitalized Peace Agreement is the ratio of 60% to the government and the remaining 40% to other parties.

As you can see, these two internal challenges are not the making of one party. They emanate from the collective failure of the parties to see the bigger picture and reach timely agreement on these issues. To those who are pointing fingers, I would advise that you examine the validity of your demands. Look at the consequences of your demands on the timely implementation of Chapter 2 of the Revitalized Peace Agreement. Let us be reasonable and work to reach agreement on these two areas because they are critical for our country to exit from this cycle of violence.

Back to theme of law and order, I would like to emphasize that people need law and order to engage in productive activities and my instruction to governors and chief administrators is: please work within lawful means to apprehend those who disrupt peace and harmony within your states and administrative areas. Work collaboratively with your counterparts to ensure inter-state criminals do not destabilize border areas and impede our work on the implementation of the revitalized Peace Agreement.

Another important area people must guard against is the use of relief maps created by various relief agencies working in cahoots with some government officials to sow confusion. Some of these maps were in use before and after our independence. But these maps have unreasonably been used by some as definitive guides when discussing state and communal boundaries. We have mechanisms within the Revitalized Peace Agreement that will address border disputes among states, administrative areas and also among communities. The Independent Boundaries Commission (IBC) is one of such avenues.

Given that land disputes are considered immediate triggers that can cause conflict, I am appealing to those who are using relief maps to stake their claims on border areas to desist from this exercise and wait for the determination of these boundaries by relevant institutions.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

The quest for an inclusive peace and stability in our country remains our priority. In my recent speech to a joint session of Parliament, I announced the pause of talks with Holdout Groups. We took this decision because of the killing of innocent civilians on major roads and highways by elements from South Sudan Opposition Movement Alliance (SSOMA). What compelled us to suspend the talks was that these killings took place after we have signed cessation of hostility agreement and the declaration of principles with SSOMA.

Since we took this decision, many voices have appealed to us to reconsider our position and give the inclusive peace a chance. The Holy Father, Pope Francis’ continuous prayers for peace in our country added an urgency to the need to resume talks with SSOMA.  In deference to these voices, I am today asking the Community of Sant’Egidio to begin the preparation for the resumption of Rome Peace talks with the Holdout Groups without precondition. I hope SSOMA this time will adhere to Cessation of Hostilities Agreement in order give room to negotiations that will move the talks on without further interruption.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

As you may have read from the news, the security situation in our region is worsening. Specifically, our sisterly countries of Sudan and Ethiopia are facing challenges that are threatening to escalate further. In these situations, we have always advocated for dialogue among the parties as the only viable way of resolving these issues. In the interest of regional stability, I am registering South Sudan’s willingness to support the African Union’s mediation in Ethiopia with the goal of helping the warring parties to narrow their differences and possibly reach an amicable solution that will end these escalations permanently.

Finally, I would like to end my remarks by wishing you all the best as you move back to your respective states and administrative areas. Go back empowered by the discussions and resolutions of this esteemed Fifth Governor’s Forum. Remain assured that we at national level shall continue giving you unconditional support as you work to restore law and order at your respective states and administrative areas.

Thank you all, and may God bless our country, the Republic of South Sudan.

Salva Kiir Mayardit
Republic of South Sudan
Juba, South Sudan


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