By Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth
On July 9, 2011, the Republic of South Sudan was welcomed by millions of South Sudanese and around the world as the newest nation in the world. Juba, the capital of the republic, was inundated with people who came to witness his birth.
The Republic of South Sudan had allies everywhere – including in the IGAD region (Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda), the African Union, the United States, Europe, China, the Middle East and the UN. The people of South Sudan have been greeted warmly in all corners of the world.
In the United States, where I served as the then Government of South Sudan (GOSS) Chief of Mission to the United States and the United Nations, President General Salva Kiir Mayardit (then the First Vice President of Sudan and Chairman of GOSS) was received with honor each year at the White House by former US President George W. Bush – they met in the Oval Office from 2006 to 2009. So does even with former United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon.
As of 2009, President Barack Obama has shown the same respect and honor to President Kiir in the White House. On September 24, 2010, President Obama convened a meeting at the United Nations General Assembly to prepare world leaders to support the upcoming referendum on independence in South Sudan. At this meeting, President Kiir delivered a speech, already showing that he was the future President of the Republic of South Sudan, as she will soon be. People were enthusiastic about President Kiir’s availability and revolutionary leadership spirit.
Dr Susan Rice, with her “true love” and “unwavering support” for the people of South Sudan, represented the United States as President Obama’s Ambassador to the United Nations. The world was on South Sudan’s side as it prepared for the independence referendum on January 9-15, 2011.
In addition, the Chinese leadership, former President Hu Jintao and current President Xi Jinping, supported the referendum on the independence of South Sudan. In 2007, President Kiir had an excellent meeting with President Hu.
At the United Nations, Chinese Ambassador Li Baodong, who was a very close friend, rightly informed the world that the Chinese people and government were ready to accept the referendum result. We would meet frequently and talk about what was going on in New York and at home in Juba.
In Europe and the Middle East, President Kiir was on tour to brief national leaders on the will and determination of the people of South Sudan to be a free people.
On July 9, 2011, the country was born and a long-held dream came true.
But shortly after the triumphant celebration of independence and freedom, all hell broke loose in 2013, and as leaders we were accused of an ugly and senseless war. It brought us back to square one. Our staunch allies and the whole world were taken by surprise.
The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), supported by the AU, the UN, the “troika” (US, UK and Norway) and the EU intervened and called for a ceasefire -immediate fire and peace talks. Factions of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) gathered in Addis Ababa under the banner of IGAD. In less than two years, the South Sudan Conflict Resolution Agreement (ARCISS) was signed on August 17, 2015. The country returned to war in July 2016, but President Kiir and the leaders of the opposition prevailed and the Revitalized Agreement (R-ARCISS) was signed in Addis Ababa on September 12, 2018.
We, the leaders and the people of South Sudan, must retrace our path and find our allies around the world to help restore peace, stability, reconciliation and healing. This will enable us to advance South Sudan’s development agenda.
It is not too late for us to reverse much of the damage that has been done. We were able to end the longest civil war in Africa with a dignified conclusion that paved the way for a peaceful and transparent referendum and our independence.
As President Kiir leads the way, champions the implementation of R-ARCISS and tackles all the challenges our people face on a daily basis, along with his Vice Presidents and Cabinet, I am optimistic that we will overcome our challenges. challenges and will find our place. on the world stage once again.
The world is full of stories like ours. The difference is that we, the people, are now changing course, for the good of our nation and our future.