President Kiir joins the other African heads of state and governments as they pose for a photo in front of the new AU headquarters.
[Photo: Thomas Kenneth]
Speech delivered by President Salva Kiir Mayardit at the 18th AU Assembly in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
On behalf of the people of South Sudan, allow me to express to all the member states of African Union our gratitude for the warm welcome accorded to the Republic of South Sudan upon our admission into this noble and prestigious organization. We are truly honored to join you as a sovereign state and look forward to fully engaging in this forum.
The people of South Sudan will long remember the African Union and particularly IGAD for facilitating the resolution of the decades-long conflict in Sudan along with many of our international friends. Without your invaluable support and guidance, peace may have taken longer to achieve.
On the current oil crisis in our country and in response to the statement just issued, I would like to clarify the position of my government. The ongoing negotiations between the Government of South Sudan and the Government of Sudan – which we continue to be involved in – have been critical for both nations. We believe that true negotiations must be based on the following two principles:
The principle of peaceful coexistence of South Sudan and our neighbor, Sudan. This stability will also strengthen the overall stability of the region in particular and the continent at large.
Secondly, the principal of reasonable and fair commercial engagement that ensures the economic viability of both states, in a manner that is respectful and agreeable to both nations.
We reached this current crisis for several reasons. Most significant was Khartoum’s unilateral decision to enact a bill to levy a fee of 32.2 dollars per barrel to the South Sudan oil that passes through their territory. While negotiations were taking place to determine a fair fee, Khartoum began diverting and confiscating our oil by force.
We acknowledge that most of the oil infrastructure lies on the territory of Sudan, however the oil clearly belongs to South Sudan. This unilateral decision to take our crude entitlements is unmistakably a violation of the sovereignty of South Sudan and must be condemned.
This act was implemented despite the fact that the oil operating companies have repeatedly explained that the Republic of South Sudan has been and is paying transit fees to Sudan.
We have no objection to paying Khartoum for the use of their infrastructure, however it must be a mutually agreeable price and to date we have NOT agreed on their proposed price of 32.2 dollars per barrel, nor do we have any intention to accept that price.
It is completely out of international norms and it is a precedence that we will not set.
Since they began their campaign of recovering funds that they unilaterally decided to levy against South Sudan, they have prevented ships from leaving Port Sudan. They have prevented other ships from docking to collect their purchases.
They have completed constructing a tie-in pipeline designed to permanently divert almost 75% of our daily entitlements.
On Sunday, our offices in Port Sudan confirmed that documents have been processed to allow two detained ships to sail. The reason for this development is an attempt to coerce us into signing the cover agreement presented by the AUHIP.
To date, the loss of revenue to the Republic of South Sudan amounts to almost 850 million dollars. These funds are critical to the security and welfare of the citizens of South Sudan and must be recovered.
At the initial phase of this crisis, I immediately informed regional leaders of the developing situation. We sought advice and exhausted all possibilities to resolve this situation, including our continued involvement with AUHIP negotiations. Finally, we concluded that due to the fact that we can no longer guarantee that our oil will reach its intended destination, we cannot allow oil production to continue.
At this time, the oil will remain in its natural place- the ground- until the situation is amicably resolved.
We were unable to sign the cover agreement presented by the AUHIP on Friday for several reasons:
The transitional financial provisions were not in line with what we anticipated.
The agreement excluded the concepts of peaceful coexistence and mutual viability for both states.
In general, the proposed agreement was vague on several issues. Meanwhile, it tied the Republic of South Sudan to urgently provide cash and oil to the Government of Sudan without first addressing the issues that made us reach this point.
In order to move forward, we would like the AU to understand that we stand ready to contribute to the financial physical gap being experienced by the Government of Sudan only within bearable costs limits. This august house is well aware that we are the youngest nation on earth and that development is limited. Whatever limited resources we have must be dedicated to developing South Sudan.
We must be guaranteed swift and peaceful resolutions to the outstanding CPA issues including Abyei and the borders. The Abyei issue was resolved by the Permanent Court of Arbitration. That decision needs to be respected and implemented. In addition, the borders have been agreed upon (80%) and it must be demarcated immediately.
We suggest that all outstanding arrears and claims between the parties should be settled through an independent transparent committee, that would be comprised of three members. Both Sudan and South Sudan would be able nominate a committee member who is not of either nationality.
The third member would be nominated by the African Union. This committee would audit and ensure that payments are transparently made.
In conclusion, the Government of Sudan must continue to make concessions as evidence of good faith and no hidden agenda. Only at that time, will we be able to negotiate reasonably and hopefully end this stalemate.