H. E. Mr. Odein Ajumogobia, SAN
Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Nigeria
At the United Nations Security Council
16th November, 2010
I would also like to begin by thanking the United Kingdom for convening this important meeting to address the challenges facing Sudan as it enters the most delicate phase of its tragic history of conflict. Your decision, Mr. President, to focus the United Kingdom’s presidency of the Council on the Sudan is both timely and compelling. It highlights your country’s genuine commitment to peace in the Sudan.
Let me also thank the Secretary-General for his insightful remarks and tireless efforts to promote peace in the Sudan. I also wish to express my appreciation to His Excellency Mr. Ali Ahmed Karti, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Sudan, and to Mr. Pagan Amum, Secretary General of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), for their heartwarming and encouraging posture. I must of course also thank President Mbeki for his briefing and his tireless efforts as Chairperson of the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel.
This meeting, which is taking place just days after the second meeting of the Sudan Consultative Forum in Addis Ababa and less than two months after the high-level summit on the Sudan held here in New York, complements the series of recent efforts to keep international attention focused on the Sudan. The core message that emerged from both meetings, which is being reinforced today, is that the international community must sustain the momentum required to anchor perhaps the most crucial component of the
Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), that is, the referendum in Southern Sudan and the referendum in the Abyei region under the Abyei Protocol. A corollary message is that the responsibility for achieving these important outcomes is a collective one that falls primarily to the parties to the CPA themselves — the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement and the National Congress Party — but also to bilateral partners, neighbouring countries, regional organizations and the international community, and in particular the Council.
The Sudan is unquestionably at a critical crossroads. On 9 January 2011, less than two months from now, the people of Southern Sudan and Abyei are to choose whether to remain part of a united Sudan or whether independence will be their preference. There is naturally much apprehension as to what lies ahead. Several assessments and forecasts seem to indicate that the people of Southern Sudan will go to the polls on 9 January 2011 and that the vote will take place in Southern Sudan notwithstanding the delays in meeting some pre-referendum benchmarks.
That unfortunately raises the prospect of unilateral as opposed to mutual action, and has thus served to heighten tensions amid questions about the adequacy of the time left to organize credible polls. On the other hand, there is the fear of renewed conflict should the referendum be unilaterally postponed or the CPA expire, thereby compromising the basis for interaction and dialogue between the North and South. This is the dilemma that faces the Council.
But neither the Sudan nor the international community can afford a renewed conflict, which would destabilize the region and undo the substantial progress that has been achieved in the country since 2005. We therefore deplore the growing state of insecurity and heightened tension along the disputed North-South border following recent bombings in the area. We urge the SPLA and the Sudanese Army to cease all military activities and stay committed to the permanent ceasefire agreement.
At this critical moment, neither the postponement of the referendum nor the unilateral declaration of independence would serve the cause of international peace and security. As we approach the scheduled date, the parties — and indeed all of us — must therefore redouble efforts and commit to the full implementation of the CPA, particularly with regard to the timely conduct of free, fair and credible referendums. The parties themselves have an obligation to seek a peaceful, equitable and mutually beneficial coexistence, no matter the outcome of the referendums.
To realize this goal, the people of the Sudan must work together, with the international community providing requisite support, to address the following issues urgently. First, there are significant political, technical, security and logistical challenges to overcome in order to hold two free, peaceful and credible referendums in Southern Sudan and Abyei. As with the April 2010 elections, civic education, the registration and mobilization of voters, the provision of security and preparing for international monitoring, as agreed in the CPA, are important issues that should be addressed. In this regard, I commend the Secretary General for appointing former President Benjamin Mkapa as head of the international monitoring panel for the referendums. I also commend United Nations agencies for the measures they have put in place to support the successful conduct of the referendums, with more than 60 per cent of staff and logistics already deployed.
To bolster confidence in the process, the parties should utilize the remaining period before the vote to address the core issues that fuel the uncertainty about the referendums. Issues of insecurity and disagreements on the workings, composition and funding of the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission should be addressed. The parties should also ensure that the registration process, which — happily — commenced yesterday, proceeds peacefully and in a manner that assures the integrity of the process. We must, however, emphasize that given the limited time available for the preparations, the failure by some donors to fulfil their pledges is one of the impediments to the conduct of credible referendums on 9 January 2011.
Secondly, contingency planning at the country and international levels is necessary to guarantee stability, protect civilians and forestall violence. All stakeholders, including the United Nations, civil society groups and the parties, are urged to integrate the various contingency plans with practical implementation strategies. There is a need for greater coordination and the involvement of local communities in the planning and implementation of the contingency arrangements. The arrangements should specifically address the fate of Southern Sudanese in the North and Northern Sudanese in the South, as well as potential internal displacements.
Thirdly, a framework agreement on post referendum arrangements should be concluded on issues such as border demarcation, citizenship and residency, natural resources, oil and economic cooperation, grazing rights and security. In Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile, the popular consultations provided for by the CPA should be supported through adequate funding. In Abyei, the Referendum Commission should be established in accordance with the Abyei Referendum Act of December 2009.
Nigeria believes that progress on these issues before the referendums is not only desirable but also necessary to obviate the prospect of post-referendum conflict. We therefore welcome the consultative process and the commencement of negotiations between the National Congress Party and the Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement on post-referendum arrangements, facilitated by the African Union High Level Implementation Panel for the Sudan. The negotiations should now move from procedures to substantive outcomes.
Fourthly, the ultimate decision on the future of the Sudan lies with the Sudanese people. They and they alone should determine the structure and shape of their country. Nevertheless, whatever the outcome of the referendums, the Sudan has reached a point of no return. The ongoing process of State formation and institution building in Southern Sudan will remain a daunting task and will require international assistance. In nurturing peace in the Sudan, we have an obligation to balance the options before us by giving equal emphasis to both the principle of referendum on self determination and that of making unity attractive. Above all, we must demonstrate our neutrality and allow the people of the Sudan to freely determine their own future.
Fifthly and finally, Nigeria believes that a comprehensive peace agreement in Darfur is necessary for sustainable peace and development in the Sudan, and it should be pursued with renewed vigour. We therefore fully support the Doha peace talks and commend the multi-strand efforts of the African Union United Nations Chief Mediator for Darfur. We commend his efforts in facilitating the improvement of the relations between the Sudan and its neighbours, in particular Chad and Libya. We were pleased to learn that the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) is back in Doha to discuss the conditions under which it can resume negotiations. Our expectation is that JEM and the Abdul Wahid faction of the Sudan Liberation Army will unfreeze their boycott and fully rejoin the Doha talks.
Nigeria commends the extensive support of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) for the Darfur internal dialogue process and welcomes the new political and security strategy for Darfur. We believe that early recovery and development initiatives would also meaningfully contribute to the efforts to find lasting solutions to the conflict there.
The United Nations, in particular the United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS), has a critical role to play in providing security and the logistical support required to ensure the success of the referendums. We urge the parties to remove all restrictions on the movement of UNMIS personnel. We also urge donors to fully resource UNMIS and to address the capability deficit created by the withdrawal of six UNMIS utility helicopters. If UNMIS is to fully discharge its protection of civilians mandate during the referendums, it would be necessary for the Mission to undertake preventive deployments in flashpoint areas such as Abyei, Unity state, Upper Nile and Western Bar El Ghazal.
Nigeria has been and will remain a reliable, active partner in the efforts to resolve the Sudan’s long-standing conflict. Through the Abuja peace conferences, Nigeria helped facilitate the Darfur Peace Agreement. Today, our peacekeeping forces are among those deployed in UNMIS and UNAMID, facing the daily challenges of maintaining peace and security in the country. We remain absolutely committed to the completion of the peace process in the Sudan.
With indications that the preparations are finally under way, the international community should be unrelenting in supporting the process. The United Nations should lead the effort to secure the firm commitment of all parties to respecting the outcome of a credible referendum on Southern Sudan.
Last April’s elections saw our fears come to naught in the Sudan. As we therefore resolve to lend our strong support to the CPA commitment of all the parties to holding the referendum on the Southern Sudan in January, as planned, let us do everything we can to contribute to the achievement of that critical and crucial milestone.