President Yoweri Museveni has called on the people of South Sudan not to be like the Biblical children of Israel who were about to back-track to Egypt when faced with challenges.
“You should stand firm and make sure that judgment is attained. Be strong, the modern world doesn’t have a place for the weak hearted”, he said.
The President who was the Chief Guest at the celebrations to mark the first Anniversary of Independence of South Sudan called for a peaceful deal based on justice to resolve the conflict between Sudan and South Sudan. He urged President Salva Kiir to strike a deal with the Khartoum government that will benefit everybody.
“I don’t care who is right or who is wrong but make a deal based on justice and a deal that will not create problems in the future”, he counseled. He decried the suppression of black people by greedy politicians.
“In the world, the voice of black people is not heard; otherwise the suffering of the black people of South Sudan would not have gone on for too long because their case was quite obvious”, the President said.
In a brief recount of the history of the South Sudanese struggle to independence, Mr. Museveni lamented the tendency of black people being prone to division. He, however, paid great tribute to the Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) and the heroes and heroines, who fought hard to win the independence struggle.
The Republic of South Sudan, the youngest independent nation on the African continent, yesterday held its 1st Independence Anniversary celebrations amidst pomp at the John Garang Mausoleum in Juba. South Sudan became independent on the 9th July 2011 after a majority of its over eight million inhabitants voted in favour of cessation from the Khartoum based government.
Other high ranking officials who attended the celebrations included former South African president Thabo Mbeki, who is mediating AU-led talks between Sudan and South Sudan, Deputy Prime Minister of Ethiopia Hailemerian Desalegn, Chairperson of AU Commission Jean Ping, AU Chairperson Yayi Boni, Minister of State for Public Service of Kenya Dalmas Ayango and Special Representative of the UN Secretary General Hilda Johnson.
President Salva Kiir on his part congratulated the people of South Sudan and paid tribute to the fallen heroes.
“The celebrations to mark the first anniversary are a manifestation of a sustained liberation struggle. Today we are free and liberated; but as we celebrate we must know that freedom is not an end in itself,” he said.
President Salva Kiir said that the conflict between his country and Sudan, stems from the fact that since attainment of South Sudanese independence, the Khartoum administration has continuously disregarded South Sudan’s sovereignty which has caused fighting and displacement of South Sudanese citizens.
He, however, emphasized that he will solve all those problems through dialogue. He reported that the Khartoum government had confiscated oil belonging to the government of South Sudan worth over US$800 million leaving South Sudan to operate on a very limited budget. He also expressed optimism that the relations between Khartoum and South Sudan would soon be addressed peacefully.
“We realize the importance of our mutual relationship and respect each other’s sovereignty as we pursue the visions of our two countries”, he emphasized. President Kiir paid tribute to development partners and civil society organizations for their assistance before and during South Sudan’s first year of independence.
Speaking on the way forward for South Sudan, President Kiir promised to tackle corruption, which he said had made the country lose millions of shillings. He also called on the people of South Sudan to join him in the fight against corruption so that the vice does not undermine the aspirations of the South Sudanese people.
African Union commission chairman Jean Ping said the AU noted the tremendous difficulties facing South Sudan, urging both Juba and Khartoum to stick to AU and UN Security Council resolutions to broker peace between them.
In a speech read for him by Ms. Hilda Johnson, the United Nations Secretary General, Mr. Ban Ki Moon pledged the world body’s support to ensure a peaceful and stable South Sudan.