Monday, November 12, 2007

Sudan and South Africa: For Peace, Progress & Parternership

Sudan and South Africa

To peace, progress and partnership

EDITOR'S NOTE: Below we reproduce two short speeches delivered by our President, Thabo Mbeki, and the President of Sudan, Omar el-Bashir, at the State Banquet held in Cape Town at Tuynhuys on 6ovember, in honour of the visiting President el-Bashir. ANC Today publishes these speeches because of the interest of our members and readers in the resolution of the conflict in Darfur, and the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) signed by the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) and the Government of Sudan in January 2005. The CPA ended the decades-long conflict between Northern and Southern Sudan.

President Thabo Mbeki's speech

Your Excellency, we are truly delighted that you found time to visit our country, accompanied by your wife, Mme Widad Babkir, and an important delegation. On behalf of the government and people of South Africa I would like to extend the warmest welcome to you and your delegation.

I also wish, through you, Your Excellency, to convey our greetings to the government and people of Sudan.

We are very happy to be with in South Africa because among other things, your visit has enabled us to strengthen our bilateral relations, especially the Joint Bilateral Commission, which as Your Excellency knows, we launched in May 2006.

We will further consolidate our bilateral relations by signing a number of agreements tomorrow, these being:

The Memorandum of Understanding Regarding Economic Co-operation;
Agreement for the Reciprocal Promotion and Protection of Investments;
Agreement on Co-operation in the Fields of Arts and Culture;
Statement of Intent on Social Development;
Memorandum of Understanding on Defence Co-operation;
Memorandum of Understanding on Co-operation on Immigration, Population and Election Matters; and
Bilateral Trade Co-operation Agreement.
These agreements, Your Excellency, demonstrate that our partnership is indeed growing stronger and most importantly, embraces people to people relations.

As you are aware, Your Excellency, South Africa continues to give such assistance as it can so that the sister people of the Republic of Sudan achieve the progress which all your people desire.

Among other things, we continue with the implementation of the Capacity and Institution Building Project which involves the Government of Southern Sudan, our Department of Foreign Affairs and other structures of our government, and the University of South Africa. To date, fourteen training programmes have been implemented and over 700 individuals have been trained in various elements of state administration.

In this regard, we are indeed very pleased that an agreement has been reached to conclude all the matters that led the SPLM [Sudan People's Liberation Movement] to suspend the participation of its members in the central government of Sudan. I would like to assure you, Mr President, of our full support for this decision, as well as our readiness to do everything necessary and possible to assist in this regard.

I would like to take advantage of this happy occasion once more to confirm that we consider Sudan as a vitally important African country that has the potential to occupy the front ranks in the continuing struggle to achieve the African Renaissance, which includes the unity of our Continent.

We are very honoured that we can count on Sudan as a strategic partner. We are therefore determined to work with you, Mr President, further to strengthen our bilateral relations, within the context of a focused programme of cooperation covering many areas.

We will also strengthen our cooperation and consultation with regard to multilateral issues, such as the development, the renewal and the unity of our Continent, Palestine and the Middle East, the conclusion of the Doha Development Round, the reform of the UN, and so on.

Your Excellency, we are, like you and the rest of our Continent, deeply interested in the speedy resolution of the conflict in Darfur. We agree fully with the Government of Sudan that:

the Abuja Peace Agreement provides the framework for the peaceful resolution of the conflict in Darfur;
all the armed factions in Darfur should participate in the AU-UN peace talks hosted by Brother Leader Moumar Khadafi and the Libyan Jamahiriya;
the international community should take firm action against anybody who wilfully absent themselves from these negotiations, choosing to engage in violent actions against the innocent people of Darfur;
the AU-UN hybrid force should be deployed without further delay, and all outstanding issues in this regard should be solved as a matter of urgency on the basis of existing United Nations decisions and by agreement between the AU, the UN and the Government of Sudan; and,
all necessary steps should be taken to ensure the security of the civilian population and the internally displaced people in Darfur, as well as create the conditions for humanitarian assistance to reach the sections of the population in need.
I would like to assure Your Excellency that we remain seized of the question of further strengthening our contribution to the peace forces deployed in Darfur, to add to the military and police contingents we have sent to Darfur as part of AMIS [AU Mission in Sudan], in keeping with the needs of the AU-UN hybrid force, bearing in mind the fact of our deployments in the DRC and Burundi.

We thank you and your government, Your Excellency, for your partnership in one of NEPAD's important projects, the Eastern Africa Submarine Cable System (EASSy), the 9,900km-long submarine cable between Durban and Port Sudan, which will radically reduce telecommunications costs in Africa. We trust that this cable will indeed become operational by the end of 2008.

Indeed, Your Excellency, despite the many challenges that we face as individual countries, we have the duty to ensure that the African Union and its programmes succeed. At the same time, we are confident that our efforts will, in time, bring development and prosperity to our people.

Once more, Your Excellency, I am pleased to extend to you, your wife, Madame Widad Babkir, and the rest of your important delegation, a warm welcome to our country and our thanks that you have honoured us with your visit.

Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, please rise and join me in a toast to the good health and prosperity of His Excellency, President Omer Hassan Ahmed el-Bashir and to peace, solidarity and friendship between the peoples of the Republics of Sudan and South Africa.

To friendship!

President Omar el-Bashir's speech

It gives me great pleasure and profound happiness to be with you today in this beautiful city - Cape Town ­- at this historic juncture of our bilateral relations and the developments in the region at large. This is the first-official visit which has been long awaited to give impetus for our bilateral relations and to probe ways and means of promoting them to the level that we aspire in peace, stability and development.

Your successive visits to Sudan - Mr. President - manifest your concern on the course of relations in which we are currently engaged to draw up a map for joint action on the way forward towards peace, stability and development, and to consolidate bilateral cooperation in all fields, targeting the establishment of strategic partnership that stems from the actions plans formulated by NEPAD for implementation by the African Union.

We came to South Africa amid important developments, as our country is experiencing the crisis of Darfur, though we managed to achieve considerable success towards resolving the crisis, with the support of South Africa, and other African countries who expressed readiness to realise the Hybrid Operation as stipulated by the Security Council Resolution No.1769.

I take this opportunity to express our sincere thanks to South Africa for its effective participation in the peace keeping operation in Darfur and its envisaged participation in the Hybrid Operation. We are pretty confident that the presence of South Africa forces, and will no doubt qualify the operation for success despite the complexities of the situation.

In this regard we are looking forward, as well, to the success of Darfur peace negotiations taking place in Libya, by concluding agreement with all the fighting factions based on justice and fair division of power and wealth and to put in the mechanism that shall ensure a comprehensive peace agreement in the Sudan and the region at large.

As for the CPA, we would like to assure you that there will be no return to war, what so ever the differences between the CPA partners. We are committed to the full implementation of the Agreement in letter and sprit, utilising the same mechanisms embodied in the CPA and to work together in genuine partnership for resolving the remaining issues and for attaining unity of the Sudan.

We have gained the experience that direct negotiations is the best way of resolving conflicts, rather than opening windows for foreign intervention that, with its hidden and open agenda, would complicate the situation rather than resolving the problem.

Africa had long been subjected to the agonies of colonialism, racial discrimination and foreign interference in its domestic affairs, and that disabled its endeavours for achieving security and economic development.

The advent of national majority rule in South Africa, terminated colonialism and internal interference in the affairs of the country. Africa is now looking forward for the South African role in liberating the continent from poverty, political and economic dependence through its leading role in the African Union. The Sudan is always willing to put its enormous economic, political and strategic potentials for building the Africa continent.

At the top of our agenda during this visit, is the promotion and consolidation of bilateral relations in political, economic and investment fields, in our march to achieve a balanced partnership between our two countries. We note with concern that the flow of trade between Sudan and South Africa is slow, and that there is need for a push to make it match the strategic partnership to which we both aspire, by engaging ourselves in strategic projects in fields such as food security, infrastructure and information technology.

It is opportune in this visit to sign a number of agreements which have been agreed upon by the two sides in the fields of economic cooperation, trade and investment and two agreements on military and health cooperation. We welcome the convening of the Joint Bilateral Commission in Khartoum as soon as possible, to consider priority agreements and to ensure the execution of our programmes.

The Sudan appreciates very much the effort exerted by South Africa in its capacity as chairperson of the African Committee for the Reconstruction and Development of Southern Sudan. Yet what has been achieved so far is much short of our expectation, because of the non-commitment of the International Community to the cause of Reconstruction and Development in the South.

We trust that your leadership will spare no effort to mobilise and sensitise the donors to fulfil the commitments they made in Oslo. It is always to be remembered that peace and development are two faces of the same coin and that many cases of failure in peace operations are caused by the failure of the International Community to honour their commitments. I would like to take this opportunity to emphasise the need to prioritise projects in the Reconstruction and Development of the South that would encourage unity of the country and integration of Southern Sudan nationality and regionally.

God bless our efforts in the path for faith and truth.

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