By Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth
OPINION – The liberation war waged by SPLM/SPLA was to free the people of the Southern Sudan then from marginalization, Arabization and underdevelopment policy pursued by the Khartoum successive regimes since 1956. The longest, destructive and protracted war ended in 2005 through negotiated political settlement known as Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) between the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/SPLA) and the Government of Sudan/National Congress Party (GoS or NCP).
The People of the Southern Sudan then voted overwhelmingly (98%) at the plebiscite organized jointly by Government of Sudan and the regional Government of Southern Sudan for Independence South Sudan. On July 9, 2011, South Sudan was born and it became the youngest and newest 193rd Member State of United Nations and 54th member State of African Union.
The search for the Republic of South Sudan was not easy. It came with heavy price both in human and materials. So many lives, 2.5 million people, were lost and so many properties, livelihoods were destroyed and especially in the South Sudan where majority were Christians and of African descent. Religion and racism becomes the epicenter of the Sudan civil war and this had attracted a lot of attention from the Christians Community around the globe advocating for South Sudanese rights to life, right to liberty and right to freedom of religion, thought, association, expression and freedom from slavery and torture. African, American and Europeans religious leaders were on the forefront supporting the South Sudanese struggle for independence.
On the political, military and diplomatic fronts, our founding Leader of the SPLM/SPLA Dr. John Garang De Mabior together with his Comrades were soliciting political, military and diplomatic support from our friends around the World. This political and diplomatic campaign had produced amazing results. For the first time in history of Sudan and Southern Sudan, UN Security Council convened a special session in 2004 on Southern Sudan and on African soil in Kenya where SPLM/SPLA leader were invited to address the session. It was historic for SPLM/SPLA and for the great People of Southern Sudan to feel for the first time that their plight was heard and it is time for the region and world to support their quest for independence which mean total freedom for them.
After six months from the signing of the CPA and after return to Khartoum and took oath of office as First Vice President of the Republic of Sudan in July 9, 2005, our founding leader Dr. John Garang died in a plane crash in the mountain of Imatong in Southern Sudan on July 30th, 2005.
After confirming the death of our leader, the Leadership Council of SPLM/SPLA set in New Site, Southern Sudan and Commander Salva Kiir Mayardit was elected Chairman and Commander in Chief of the SPLM/SPLA. For commander Salva, who has been the Deputy Chairman and Deputy Commander in Chief since 1994, he was the right man in the right place. Commander Salva Kiir became the First Vice President for the Republic of Sudan and President of Government of Southern Sudan. The six years interim period were not easy but difficult part to our journey to the independence South Sudan. President Kiir was confirmed in the general elections in 2010 as the President of Government of Southern Sudan. He safely took the people of Southern Sudan to the promised land. President Kiir became the first President and the founding father of the Republic of South Sudan.
The first visit to USA by President Kiir.
In November 2005, His Excellency General Salva Kiir Mayardit, First Vice President of the Republic of Sudan and President of the Government of Southern Sudan visited US. This was the first visit as the head of legitimate representative of the People of Sourn Sudan and other marginalized People of Sudan. President Kiir was received warmly by the US Government as a friend and ally. He has cordial, constructive, candid, and fruitful meetings with Vice President Dick Cheney and many senior USA Government Officials and friends. Vice President Dick Cheney promised on behalf of President George W. Bush that US will stand with the people of Southern Sudan and will wholeheartedly support the independence of the Republic of South Sudan.
From 2005 to 2009 President Kiir frequently visited the White House and had cordial and fruitful meetings with President George W. Bush and President Bush gave President Kiir the Cowboy hat which he is wearing now as a sign of friendship and support to South Sudanese. South Sudan was on the priority list of President Bush foreign policy toward Africa and Sudan especially.
President Barack Obama after assuming office in January 2009 continued on the same path of his predecessor.
President Kiir continued to visit White House and had cordial meetings with President Obama.
As legitimate representative of the People of Southern Sudan President Kiir had built strong network of allies on both side. These friends are still our friends upto today and we must win them back. President Kiir can also be assisted by his Foreign Minister Hon. Mayiik Ayii Deng, who was also in USA at that time, to win back our friends.
The world is still with South Sudan and President Kiir will continue to bring peace and restore security and stability to our Country and win back all the friends in USA, China, Russia, UK, Norway, France, Germany, European Union, Africa, Middle East and our region especially IGAD Countries (the frontline Countries) and all countries in the world to be with the people of South Sudan during this difficult time of our transition.
Many Countries in the World have passed through the same hardship we went through and more worse than ours and they made it. I truly believe we will make it and we will emerge victorious and triumphant.
I, Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth, was the Representative of the Southern Sudan then to United Nations and USA and had witnessed all of these meetings and engagements. Some meetings and engagements are still classified and will only be written in books in the future.
Finally, some friends of the Republic of South Sudan who contributed to make sure we have friends in USA and UN can be recognized and mentioned in books in the future. Some friends deserve to be honored with medals of Honor by H.E. President Kiir.
God Bless us and God bless our beautiful country the Republic of South Sudan.
The author is a former minister of petroleum of South Sudan.
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