African countries should assist Sudan

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Pretoria - Africa has a responsibility to ensure conditions prevail for a stable political situation in Sudan, Minister in the Presidency Collins Chabane said on Wednesday.

Speaking at an international Sudan Studies Conference, Chabane said Sudan was important not only because it is the biggest country in the continent, but it also shares borders with nine countries.

"Therefore whatever happens in the Sudan automatically has an impact in the nine countries and the entire Horn of the African region. The onus is upon us to provide conditions for a stable Sudan that will eventually have a positive impact on its people and its neighbours," said the minister.

The conference, held in Pretoria, was aimed at projecting the future of the Sudan against the backdrop of the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) which was signed in January 2005.

"This conference provides us at this critical juncture with an opportunity to examine the possible future of the Sudan taking into consideration that in a few months time, April 2010 the Sudan will hold elections and thereafter South Sudan will hold a Referendum in 2011," Chabane said.

He said both events were of profound importance to South Africa and the continent as they would determine what kind of Sudan would eventually emerge.

"Having said that, I must emphasise that it is only the people of the Sudan who can determine their destiny and not us as the international community," said Chabane.

South Africa's assistance in ending the civil strife in Sudan has been driven by the desire to see peace, security and stability on the African continent. Its role was to provide support to the people of Sudan and the recent visit by Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe to that country was aimed at fulfilling that objective.

South Africa, led by former President Thabo Mbeki, has been very active in the Post Conflict Reconstruction and Development of the Sudan.

The Government of South Sudan (GOSS) and the University of South Africa launched a Capacity and Institution Building Project in February 2005 for Southern Sudan. To date, more than 1 000 GOSS officials have been trained.

The training project is about to enter into its third phase. Chabane said Unisa needed to be commended for the hard work and efforts towards achieving the objectives of the project since its inception in 2005.

"It is encouraging to see the progress that has been made since the CPA was signed in 2005."

Sudan has been ravaged by wars and political instability that has led to thousands of people fleeing the country while million have become refugees in their own county.

Despite some setbacks, talks are continuing to address the challenges towards the full implementation of the CPA. Chabane said it was hoped that these talks would yield results that would benefit the people of the Sudan in the end.

The South African government is dedicated to fulfilling its vision of an "African continent which is prosperous, peaceful, democratic, non-racial, non-sexist, united and which contributes to a world which is just and equitable," said Chabane.

He added that as the conference continued, it would be essential to find common ground with regards to issues pertaining to the CPA.