His Excellency Salva Kiir Mayardit President of the Republic of South Sudan Address to the Nation on the Tenth Anniversary of the Country’s Independence
July 20, 2021
Let me first congratulate ourselves for this historic 10th Anniversary of our independence. Our country is ten (10) years old today. To mark this important occasion, I am granting full pardon to 15 prisoners who were serving jail terms in various prisons across South Sudan.
Before I proceed, fellow countrymen and women, I would like to advise in advance that my remarks for this important day will be brief, because I will speak to you more on my Policy Direction when we inaugurate the Reconstituted Transitional National Legislative Assembly and the Council of States in coming days.
For today, I want to begin by saying although we needlessly fought amongst ourselves in December 2013, just two (2) years after our independence; we have managed to cease hostilities and maintained, for nearly 2 years and 7 months, the Ceasefire under the expensive peace agreement which we signed in September, 2018.
The holding of cessation of hostilities is because of the new spirit of dialogue among the parties to the agreement, which has reduced the huge trust-deficit that existed before the signing of the Revitalized Peace Agreement. The priority of the Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity is the full implementation of the agreement, with focus on Security Sector and Economic Reforms.
These two priority areas will stabilize our country and ensure economic growth through increase in production leading to socio-economic development.
What has been achieved so far in peace implementation was arrived at through sustained discussions. And this in itself is a great achievement because it puts us on the path of resolving our disputes peacefully, and in the process prevents any conflict that can again set back our progress.
With this renewed spirit, the Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity remains committed to the full implementation of the Revitalized Peace Agreement. This commitment is demonstrated by the efforts we have exerted to:
Finalize the formation of governments at national and states levels;
Reconstitute the two houses namely the reconstituted Transitional National Transitional Legislative Assembly and Council of States;
Fully operationalize the five (5) Clusters of the Council of Ministers chaired by the First Vice President and the Vice Presidents to ensure implementation of the provisions of the agreement;
Direct the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs to trigger the permanent constitutional making process, Transitional Justice, Reconciliation and Healing, and Judicial Reform.
On the economic reforms, the government is implementing a series of measures designed to strengthen and reform the Ministry of Finance and Planning as well as the Bank of South Sudan. This is why the South Sudanese Pound has appreciated against the dollar.
The Ministry of Finance and Planning has developed Public Finance Management (PFM) strategy to improve our economic management system. The National Revenue Authority has also become stronger and more effective, collecting 300% more from non-oil revenues.
The Government has improved its engagement with the international financial institutions for reliable support during the hard economic times of our country. In this regard, we thank the IMF for emergency financing which is now bearing fruits in the foreign exchange market, paying of domestic salaries and wages.
Also, through the formation of the Public Finance Management (PFM) Oversight Committee, Cash Management Committee and other prudent measures, the Government is committed to fiscal and debt sustainability to improve the living standards of our people.
To further improve our economy, the Ministry of Petroleum has taken critical measures in both production and governance of the sector. More oil fields in the producing areas have been opened and an oil refinery that will supply our domestic market with refined products and export surplus to the neighbouring countries will soon be fully operational. These and other activities in the economic sector are promising and we should look up to a major improvement in the economy of our country.
On the security, we stablished cantonment centres for unification of forces. Already fifty-three Thousand (53,000), comprising of forces from the entire security sector, are now ready for graduation.
Despite the many challenges, including our inability to provide them with the necessary weapons, because of the arms embargo unfairly imposed on us, we are committed to graduate them as a matter of critical responsibility under the peace agreement.
I am keenly aware that we still have a lot to do to achieve total security in our country. We still have incidences of insecurity in areas where National Salvation Front (NAS) operates and arms in the hands of civilians.
We also have incidences of cattle rustling, inter-communal violence as well as the worrying occurrence of youth violence against NGOS. These are matters which can undermine peace in our country and we all need to work together to find a permanent solution to these matters.
Already, we are engaging Holdout Groups of South Sudan Opposition Movement Alliance (SSOMA) through Sant’Egidio Rome mediation process. This process is ongoing and we are committed to reaching agreement with our brothers and sisters in SSOMA in order to end insecurity in our country.
To our youth who are advocating for fair employment practices within the NGO sector, I urge you not to undermine our nationalism by focusing on ethnic and regional activism. Demands for equitable employment in the sector should not set us against one another nor should it push us into confrontation with our partners in the NGO sector.
The national government has heard your concerns and resolved to form a high-level Committee under the First Vice President and Deputized by one of the Vice Presidents and other relevant Ministers to study and develop a roadmap to permanently resolve this matter. I, therefore, call upon you to exercise calm and restrain in the interest of peace and stability in South Sudan.
It is only when we strengthen our economic sector and stabilized our security sector that we can achieve development. So far, in terms of development, we have dedicated twenty-thousand barrels a day of the Nile Blend crude for construction of major highways and roads linking production areas with consumption centres in our major cities and towns.
Presently, roads construction is ongoing on: Juba Bor highway, Juba-Torit Nadepal highway, Juba Rumbek (Bahr el Ghazal) highway, Juba- Road and Juba Mundri-Maridi Tambura highway among others. These developments are aimed at improving our peoples’ wellbeing. As I said last year, we shall retain this arrangement for as long as it takes to complete road network across South Sudan.
Apart from struggling with our own internal problems, we are trying our best to play our role in the region and international engagement. In the region, we mediated the Sudanese conflict and our effort successfully led to the signing of Juba Peace Agreement in October 2020.
This mediation was an extension of our view that considers stability of our neighbours as our own stability. This modest step we took to support the quest for peace in the Sudan was recognized both in the region and internationally. As part of the world community, we will continue to deepen our relations with the international community while supporting regional efforts for the maintenance of peace in the region, including in South Sudan.
Finally, Fellow Citizens,
I am aware that our civil servants are not being paid on time and they have endured irregular salary payments for a long time. I am also aware that salary scales have not been reviewed since we re-aligned our currency in 2015.
In the 2021/2022 budget, the government has resolved to increase salaries by 100% as phase-1 with immediate effect and will be fully reviewed later during the financial year as the economy improves.
Together with the above resolution of the Council of Ministers, today I am directing the two Ministries of Finance and Planning, and that of Petroleum to dedicate 5,000 barrels of the Nile Blend Crude per day to strengthen the financial standing of the government in order to regularize salary and operation fund payments.
Further, I am directing the ad-hoc Committee of Cabinet on implementation of governance resolutions to work with the Ministry of Trade and other relevant government agencies to into the issue of sticky prices of commodities in the market as the dollar drops against South Sudanese Pound. I believe that these measures will alleviate your sufferings.
I wish you a happy and peaceful 10h Independence Anniversary Celebration that we are marking with the ‘Great South Sudan Run under the theme: Let us run for a better South Sudan’.
I call upon you to support us by embracing peace in all your activities and interactions. On my part, I assure you that I will not return you back to war. Let us all work together to recover the lost decade and put our country back to the path of development in this new decade.
I thank you all and may God bless our country, South Sudan.
Salva Kiir Mayardit
Republic of South Sudan
Juba, South Sudan.