Freedom will not be reversed by challenges, says Kiir

9 Jul 2013

Freedom will not be reversed by challenges, says Kiir

9 July 2013 - The untold suffering of South Sudanese people had laid an important foundation in achieving freedom they now enjoyed, President Salva Kiir said in Juba today at the country second independence celebrations.

"The resilience and courage that you ... demonstrated during the years of our liberation struggle is an expression of our common hope to build a new shared future," the president told foreign dignitaries and citizens gathered at the Dr. John Garang Mausoleum.

"The hard-won freedom that (was) realized through blood, sweat and tears will not be reversed by the current challenges," he added.

President Kiir noted that South Sudan had faced several challenges since independence, like insecurity in Jonglei State, reports of human rights violations by the national army, the oil shutdown and consequent austerity measures, making economic development difficult.

He urged the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) to demonstrate professionalism and nationhood, adding that no soldier would be allowed to commit human rights abuses with impunity.

Despite the challenges, the country had also witnessed significant achievements, the president said. These included the enactment of19 bills intolaw, opening of four mobile operators, and the planned inauguration of Bentiu oil refinery, scheduled for August this year.

His main priorities in 2013 were boosting agriculture, mining and other non-oil sectors as well as developing infrastructure, including an alternative pipeline, to support economic development, the president said. Other priorities included improving basic services like education, health and water for the rural poor.

Several African heads of state who attended the celebration commended the country's progress.

President Seretse Khama Ian Khamaof Botswana said South Sudan's national reconciliation drive was a prerequisite in paving the way for democratic institutions.

President Paul Kagame of Rwanda said South Sudan's independence had provided an opportunity to advance regional integration as part of the continent-wide drive for greater unity and socioeconomic transformation.

"We must constantly strive to build our collective strength that comes from combined efforts and to avoid dangers of divided actions," said Mr. Kagame.

Ugandan President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni lamented that some African heads of states were weak, giving huge opportunities for oppressors to use their resources.

Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General Hilde F. Johnson also attended the celebration.

In a press release issued by UNMISS yesterday, Ms. Johnson assured South Sudanese people that the global commitment of the mission and UN towards the country remained robust.

"Since independence two years ago, sky-high expectations have been tempered by austerity, frictions with Sudan and also internal tensions," Ms. Johnson said in the statement.

"UNMISS salutes the resilience and determination of the nation and its people to move forward.... We trust that the leadership of the country will do its utmost to strengthen governance, reform its institutions and strengthen the respect for the rights of all South Sudanese in the years to come," she added.