Prof. U. Joy Ogwu
Ambassador and Permanent Representative
Permanent Mission of Nigeria to the United Nations
New York, NY
18th January, 2011
My first words must be to congratulate President Omer Hassan Al-Bashir, First Vice-President Salva Kiir and others leaders of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) for steadfastly steering the tortuous process that led to the recently concluded referendum in Southern Sudan. I should also thank Special Representative of the Secretary-General Haile Menkerios and President Benjamin Mkapa, Chair of the Secretary-General’s Panel on the Referenda in the Sudan, for their comprehensive briefings today.
To say that the referendum represents a significant milestone for the Comprehensive Peace Agreement would be a gross understatement. Regardless of its outcome, the fact that it was conducted without rancor has opened up a new vista for the Sudan, the sub-region and Africa as a whole. Nigeria sent a team of observers that joined its counterparts from other countries and organizations, including the United Nations, to witness the conduct of this historic exercise. We are satisfied with the reports, and particularly gratified, that the vote took place in a relatively peaceful, orderly and transparent atmosphere in spite of initial uncertainties and apprehension. By living up to their obligations, the parties to the CPA — the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement and the National Congress Party — have contributed significantly to this landmark achievement. We therefore commend them, as well as the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission and the Southern Sudan Referendum Bureau, for overcoming the daunting challenges of conducting a credible vote. We also commend the United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS) for providing the technical and logistical support that greatly facilitated the vote.
In that regard, I want to note the complaint of Mr. Menkerios regarding the freedom of movement of UNMIS, as we often do with regard to that of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID). May I also acknowledge that, through the appointment of President Mkapa and his team, the United Nations has enhanced its role in the referendum process.
I would be remiss not to acknowledge the critical role that the Security Council has played, not only through its mission to the Sudan but also by remaining united and keeping the subject high on its agenda.
As we await the final result of the voting, we call on the parties not only to remain calm but especially to continue to respect their obligations and refrain from any acts capable of undermining the process. Nigeria is pleased that the parties have unequivocally restated their commitment to accept the outcome of the referendum in good faith. It is our hope that the successful conclusion of the referendum will help to promote very positive post-referendum relations between the North and the South.
Both parties should draw the inspiration to work tirelessly between now and July — the interim period — to complete the key outstanding tasks under the CPA. More especially, they should spare no efforts in reaching workable compromises on the Abyei question, the North-South border, popular consultations in the states of Blue Nile and South Kordofan and security arrangements between the North and the South. Mutually satisfactory agreement is also required on the issues of citizenship, oil, water resources, assets and liabilities, currency and economic cooperation.
We commend the African Union’s High-Level Implementation Panel on the Sudan, led by President Thabo Mbeki, for facilitating the negotiations towards a framework agreement between the parties. The Panel’s role in fostering a stable relationship between the North and the South in the long run cannot be overemphasized. We therefore urge the Panel to intensify its efforts in the interim period.
The Council and the international community should not be lulled into ignoring the enormity of the challenges that still exist in Southern Sudan by the euphoria of the referendum. While attaining independence is an inalienable aspiration, the real business of State-building will become even more acute in the South with rising expectations of economic, political and social transformation. Adequate attention must therefore be given to managing people’s great expectations through good governance and the sound management of scarce resources and opportunities. Nigeria recognizes that Southern Sudanese leaders cannot achieve these things acting alone. Now more than ever, the Council and the international community must stand in solidarity with Southern Sudan. Indeed, our solidarity will be put to the test in the type of assistance that we give to Southern Sudan.
More than ever, greater political engagement between the North and the South and increased external assistance and pressure will be required to solve their outstanding issues. The Council’s role will be more meaningful if it remains as united, resolute and committed as it has been in the past. We urge the African Union (AU), the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, neighbouring countries and bilateral partners to also remain engaged. We do hope that the forthcoming high-level meeting on the Sudan on the margins of the AU Summit in Addis Ababa will reinforce the message of peace, solidarity and stability in the Sudan and in the region.
On Darfur, Nigeria remains gravely concerned about the increase in violence and insecurity and condemns in the strongest terms the kidnapping of three members of the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service. We commend the work of UNAMID under Ibrahim Gambari. We regret that a comprehensive peace agreement has yet to be finalized, despite the concerted and rigorous efforts of Djibrill Bassolé, the Joint Chief Negotiator. We call for the cessation of hostilities and the immediate release of the three members of the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service. We reiterate our call on the Government of the Sudan, the Justice and Equality Movement and other factions to resume the Doha talks without preconditions. We have an obligation to ensure that the Doha process does not lose credibility.