Dr. Riek Machar: “Making Democracy Real: National Reconciliation and Good Governance in South Sudan–Challenges and Opportunities”

Posted: January 11, 2012 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Speeches

                                                              “Making Democracy Real”

National Reconciliation and Good Governance in South Sudan–Challenges and Opportunities”


By HE Dr Riek Machar Teny

Vice President

Republic of South Sudan

Friends of Moral Re-Armament (India),

Asia Plateau, Panchgani, Maharashtra, India

8th-12th January 2012


1. Salutation:

Honourable Prabhat Kumar, former Cabinet Secretary, the Government of India

Honourable Rajmohan Gandhi, the former President of Initiatives of Change, India

Dr A S Ravindra Rao, member of the Initiatives of Change International Council;

Representatives of Foreign Governments;

Members of the Board of Initiatives of Change, India,

Distinguished Guests;

Ladies and Gentlemen;

Good Morning,

My delegation including my wife Angelina, and I, would like to thank you friends of Moral Re-Armament for the warm welcome and above all for inviting us to this important international dialogue on “Making Democracy Real”.  Before I make my statement I want to introduce members of my delegation. (See the list). On behalf of the delegation, I wish to convey to you the warm greetings of my President and the people of the Republic of South Sudan. As members of this organisation we are tremendously pleased to be here in India among fellow adherents of the Initiatives of Change. We believe that India, the largest democracy in the world and a world leader in many other aspects, offers a lot to a young nation like South Sudan, which aspires to follow in this great nation’s democratic tradition. Likewise, we believe the values of the Moral Re-armament Movement will inspire us.  I am therefore, deeply honoured to share the South Sudanese experience of striving for national reconciliation and good governance with this magnificent audience of political leaders, diplomats, thinkers, intellectuals and students from India and across the globe.

In this keynote statement, I will attempt to outline some of my country’s experience of national reconciliation and good governance, which constitute the foundation needed for the socio-economic development of such an embryonic nation like South Sudan. I begin the statement with some achievements on this front. However, against a backdrop of a protracted war of liberation and dislocation, there are evidently many challenges we face in the establishment of democratic institutions and practices.  I will conclude the statement with remarks on the opportunities we have and the way forward with special emphasis on the role of the international community in consolidating reconciliation and good governance efforts in South Sudan

2. Background

In order to help you appreciate the magnitude of the issues in question, I would like to provide you with some background information on the new Republic of South Sudan. Following the overwhelming endorsement of the people of the South Sudan, in a referendum internationally acclaimed as free and fair, for secession, the Republic of South Sudan (RSS) proclaimed its Independence on the 9th July 2011 after many decades of wars, destruction, and million of lives lost.  South Sudan became the 54th African Nation and the 193rd member of the United Nations (UN). South Sudan is a diverse country in terms of religion, ethnicity, and politics.  There are over 60 major ethnic or linguistic groups and 25 political parties. It is worth noting that some of these political parties have strong regional, ethnic and religious characteristics.

A UN paper, what is Good Governance? defines the term “governance” as “the process of decision-making and the process by which decisions are implemented (or not implemented)”. In other words, dealing with governance involves the analysis of the processes and systems by which a specific society, or organization, operates. Though government is one of the main actors of governance, it is far from being the only one; depending on the specific entity under study, other actors may include inter alia governmental and non-governmental institutions and civic society organizations: “… NGOs, research institutes, religious leaders, finance institutions, political parties, the military, etc.”. Moreover, governance applies to several contexts: corporate governance, international governance, and national, regional or local governance.

Accordingly, good governance or ideal governance has some specific principal characteristics; “participatory, consensus oriented, accountable, transparent, responsive, effective and efficient, equitable and inclusive, and …the rule of law”. In this regard, good governance “assures that corruption is minimized, that the views of minorities are taken into account, and that the voices of the most vulnerable in society are heard in decision-making. It is also responsive to the present and future needs of society”. The close relationship between good governance and the human rights is evident. Good governance is dependent on establishment of a good rule of law and respect of human rights, which may explain why in some countries such as Tanzania, the two are merged together in one single commission.

Questions of national reconciliation and good governance, in scholastic writings, may appear as unconnected or distinct, but in reality, in our national discourse and narrative they are increasingly considered as two sides of the same coin. There is a strong link between national reconciliation and good governance. In essence, they are interrelated and work in tandem. I would highlight areas where they come together, with specific focus on the achievements, opportunities, and challenges.

In striving for good governance our approach has been guided by our own national disposition and informed by the experiences of other countries of similar context. Our long-term goal, based on our experience of decades of oppression and lack of inclusion in the Sudanese state, was to institute: democratic practices of inclusiveness; widening participation and political accommodation, strengthening democratic institutions, establishing and adhering to rule of law, putting in place provision of socio-economic development programmes and developing a foreign policy on good neighbourliness with all our neighbours.

3. Achievements

Since 2005, we in the leadership of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) and the government embarked on many serious efforts to establish government structures and rule of law in the country. Some of the key government achievements in this area include, successfully managing the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) period, the Southern Sudan 2011 Referendum, South-South dialogue and consensus building amongst all South Sudan political parties.

Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) period

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The need to institute a viable and an inclusive effective administration or government in South Sudan subsequent to the conclusion of the CPA in 2005 propelled the issue of national reconciliation to the top of the agenda. In this  transitional period, we took a wide range of initiatives. As part of these initiatives we were keen to draw on the perspectives of all the other political parties in the country. Two developments are worth mentioning here. Although the national reconciliation in South Sudan followed the CPA, concerted attempts to narrow the differences among the various factions of South Sudanese political opinion existed even before the peace talks.  This process of reconciliation was accelerated during the six years of the CPA when we were able to govern as an autonomous entity We have built from the scratch key institutions namely the executive, legislative and judiciary we enacted foundational legislations. We embarked on security sector reform of the security forces including the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) which was a guerrilla army and transformed it into conventional army.

The Southern Sudan 2011 Referendum

One of the legacies of the CPA period, without doubt, is the Referendum. The January 2011 Referendum, was a fundamental milestone in the implementation of the CPA and a defining moment for South Sudan. The virtually unanimous and overwhelmingly vote for an independent South Sudan sounded a clear signal to the world that we as a people are ready for the responsibilities of statehood. It was unprecedented in our history. We did not take this decision lightly, but rather we took the decision in the light of our struggle for many years to establish in the Sudan a democratic, just, peaceful and progressive society. For those of you who did not witness the process, the sight of the long lines of people, old and young, queuing patiently for hours in blazing day light heat and eagerly to caste their vote was an incredibly moving one. We are immensely proud that the referendum was conducted in such a positive spirit and that it was declared to have been free and fair by all the major observers.

Consensus-Building in South Sudan

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The greatest strength of national reconciliation initiatives is its commitment to consensus building. The leadership of the SPLM initiated a South-South dialogue with all the political forces in the country. The outcome of this policy is the prevalence of a feeling of understanding, unity and collaboration among parties of all shades that lead to establishment of a broad based government despite the fact that the SPLM won 93% of the seats in the parliament during  the last elections.

In recognition that media and civil society organizations are important pillars of government, the government has supported the establishment of a network of autonomous civil society organisations. For example, we sponsored inaugural conferences for Students, Workers, Youth, Women, and Faith-Based Groups (FBGs). As a result there are now Workers’ Trade Unions and Students Unions and Women Unions etc…in South Sudan. Currently, as a result of this support there are more than 70 registered civil society organisations registered. However, we recognise that these civil society groups are independent organisations that on their own contribute to foster the values of unity and diversity.

It is important to note that as a part of our reconciliation and consensus building 30% of positions in Government and parliament were allocated to the other parties. Furthermore, the President recently appointed 60 new members of parliament predominately from other political parties, youth, women and CSOs. This is a testimony of our policy of inclusiveness and accommodation.

Gender equity policy

The government has ensured that the concerns of women are institutionalized and embodied in the constitution as affirmative action to enhance their participation in pubic life. Consequently, we have senior female Ministers in the national government and over 30% of the National Legislature is women.

However, it is important that issues of such inequalities are tackled at the grassroots level through education. as Indira Gandhi aptly said, to empower them:

“Education is a liberating force, and in our age it is also a democratizing force, cutting across the barriers of caste and class, smoothing out inequalities imposed by birth and other circumstances.”

In South Sudan, education can cut barriers of gender. Therefore, in line with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), we have introduced special education programmes for girls and girl-child education. Due to these efforts girls’ enrollment and retention in school is on the increase.

4. Challenges

In our efforts to institute national reconciliation and good governance, we face  enormous challenges. These challenges post-July 2011 North-South Sudan relations; delivery of services, returnees from North Sudan, the Diaspora, ex-combatants, Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) due to tribal conflicts and the activities of the Ugandan Lord’s Resistance Movement (LRA); and increasing numbers of refugees due to recent conflict in Abyei, Nuba Mountains and the Blue Nile.

South-North Sudan Relations post 9th July 2011

Our quest for national reconciliation extends to North Sudan. We are committed to a peaceful resolution of outstanding issues between us and North Sudan. President Salva Kiir said: “I will not lead my people into yet another phase of war with the North…” Our relations with North Sudan is important in many aspects. We share open long borders of over 2000 km. We are connected by 15 major roads, the river Nile, and a railroad.

In addition there are other important socio-economic factors that tie us together: trade, oil infrastructure, Arabic language, common history, intermarriages, and the continued existences of significant South Sudanese community in North Sudan and equally the large North Sudanese community in South Sudan. Given these commonalities, we aspire to maintain a strong bond with North Sudan. We see North Sudan representing a gateway for us to  Arab World and the Middle East; also as a bridge between Sub-Sahara Africa and the Middle East. This has enormous potential for promoting peace and trade in the region.

Other internal challenges are pockets of foreign backed armed insurgency, tribal conflicts and activities of the LRA. The government in its programme of promoting national reconciliation and healing is working hard to resolve these issues.

Delivery of services

People of South Sudan have high expectations for it government to deliver services such as education, health, water, physical infrastructure, including roads and electricity. In this we are working hard to meet their expectations.


Corruption is another challenge. The government has developed a zero tolerance policy to combat it. We have introduced legal and institutional measures to fight corruption. We have applied to join the Extractive Industries Transparency International (EITI) to assist us in combating corruption. The president has also made a decree making it mandatory on all senior civil servants and ministers to declare their assets before taking their positions in government. More significantly, an autonomous strong anti-corruption commission-with wide ranging powers of investigation and prosecution is established. The President appointed one of our most senior judges as its Chairman. This judge is now with us in this conference…. Justice John Gatwech Lul.

5. Opportunities

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The current situation in South Sudan presents opportunities for the government to build the country by attracting investment, introducing urbanisation through decentralization and establishing constitutional democratic governance.

Investment potential

We have developed a three year development plan based on our vision of 2040. South Sudan will need to attract not less than 500 billion dollars from private investments in the next 5 years to build this nation if we are to catch up with the rest of the world in infrastructure development. Presently, 72% of the population of 8.26 million is youth, under the age of 30 years; and like most countries in the region 84% the population live in the rural areas. Moreover, South Sudan is also a home to many highly motivated people and entrepreneurs, nationals as well as expatriates. Juba, the national capital, is a hub for traders from the neighbouring countries and far including India. There is therefore an enormous potential for investment in South Sudan, not only in the oil sector, but also in agro-economy and the service sectors.

My President was in Washington last month he opened an International Engagement Conference (IEC) on South Sudan. He invited Western companies to invest in South Sudan. I have also made similar efforts in the past; meeting corporate leaders in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and elsewhere. I take this opportunity to extend my government’s invitation to business corporations here in India to invest in South Sudan.

Decentralised system of governance

Ladies and Gentlemen,

An efficient government requires an equally fitting apparatus for public service provision. 80% of our population lives in the rural, in this regard the SPLM developed a vision of taking development to rural areas by adopting a policy of taking town to villages. We have to institute a pyramid-like civil service structure, which provides for the high concentration of the civil servants; teachers, doctors, midwives, administrators, veterinary doctors and nurses, foresters and agriculturalists at the bottom of the pyramid in Bomas – the lowest administrative structure, Payams, and Counties and narrow at the States and national levels respectively. This model of governance ensures that there is a mechanism to reach and deliver services to the people in their localities. The recent Governor’s Forum resolved to strengthen local governance by introducing more decentralization the government is also committed to decentralized for effective service delivery.

Constitutional Process

During the declaration of independence, we promulgated a transitional Constitution for the new Republic of South Sudan. We are now planning a thorough and fully participatory national consultative process to develop a permanent constitution of the Republic. In fact this week the President has constituted a Constitutional Review Commission to kick off this process. The process presents us with another opportunity to produce a document that will reflect our rich diversities and enshrine the principles of good governance, human rights and the rule of law. A bill for an independent national electoral commission is already passed by the Council of Ministers and is now pending enactment by the National Legislature. Through this an Independent National Elections Commission will be established. This by itself enhances the national reconciliation and good governance process in a constitutional democratic society, which we want to build.

5. The Way forward

Ladies and gentlemen,

In conclusion I wish to emphasize that South Sudan has acquired a wealth of experience in good governance and reconciliation, having waged an armed struggle and concluded a peace agreement and implemented it despite its complexity. The government has also conducted a successful referendum that has led to independence of South Sudan, and it has also built governance institutions to foster popular participation. However, we recognize that we have a long way to go in order to make democracy real in South Sudan. We appreciate the international goodwill and we are cognizant of the high expectations of our people as such we urge the international community to continue to support our efforts in national reconciliation and building good governance and development.

Thank You!

Speech by Dr Riek Machar during the conference in India.pdf Speech by Dr Riek Machar during the conference in India.pdf
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  1. Lebi Yool says:

    Thank you dear vice president for preaching the gospel of mutual trust and sincerity to the outside world.You have shown your whole will and patriotism to our nation and any unlucky accidents in history during the past shall be forgotten.But one area in which I would like to cast the doubt is the long range of national vision.What are we lacking that we have to undergo such a long chain of developmental metamorphosis?We have the resources but lacks political will to implement it.If you want things not to go amock,give the youth participatory in the government.Set a mechanism of weighing the level of development after every 5 years.As fresh bloods we are to work with you unconditionally for the sake of our country which is morally right to claim her position among the family of the nations in the world.


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