Your Excellency, the President of Southern Sudan and Vice President of the Republic of Sudan, General Salva Kiir Mayardit; Your Lordship, the Chief Justice and Mrs Nganunu; The Honourable Speaker of the National Assembly; Honourable Ministers here present; Your Excellencies, the Ambassadors/High Commissioners and Heads of International Organizations; Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen;
It is my singular honour to welcome this afternoon, His Excellency General Salva Kiir Mayardit, President of the Southern Sudan and First Vice President of the Republic of Sudan and his entourage.
Your Excellency, your visit to Botswana is indeed historic, as it is the first by a high level personality soon after our General Elections which took place last Friday, 16th October 2009.
The people of Botswana therefore feel greatly honoured by this gesture of friendship and goodwill.
The elections are now behind us and my party has every reason to celebrate our victory, but as we celebrate we are acutely aware that much work remains ahead of us, as we have to deliver on the pledges we made during our campaigns, especially to improve the lives of our people.
Our goal is to deliver on those promises.
Your visit apart from being historic, also serves the purpose of consolidating the warm and fraternal relations which subsist between Botswana and the people of Southern Sudan.
Relations between our two countries have always centred on the issues of human rights and dignity for the people of Southern Sudan.
Botswana has throughout that period supported the just cause of the people of Southern Sudan to fight injustice and intolerance as perpetrated by the North.
It is for the same reason, that Botswana has found it fitting to pronounce its position on the indictment of President Al Bashir by the International Criminal Court.
Our view is that impunity must not be tolerated, and the ICC must not be prevented from carrying out its mandate as reposed by the Rome Statute.
The enduring and courageous struggle on the part of the people of Southern Sudan culminated in the Machackos Agreement and ultimately the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).
Today the people of Sudan have a chance to enjoy peace, but that is all dependent on the commitment of the parties to implement fully the CPA.
Your Excellency, I am aware that the process of implementing the CPA is moving at a snail’s pace, however we should commend the countries in the East Africa region, particularly Kenya, for their unrelenting efforts in finding a lasting solution to the situation in Sudan.
We also commend other international partners for their own continued support to the entire process.
Botswana is certainly committed to seeing a Sudan which is at peace with itself as well as with all her neighbours.
We therefore stand resolute in our commitment to ensure that the CPA is fully implemented and the people of Southern Sudan are as per the Agreement, allowed to exercise their right to choose their destiny.
Your Excellency, Botswana may be far removed from the Sudan by geographical distance, and we may also be considered a relatively small country, but we see ourselves as a country which has a lot in common with the Southern Sudan.
With a history of starting from a very low economic base, we believe there could be a few lessons learnt from our experience in the management of resources.
To this end, we are willing to engage your country in sharing our experiences.
This could be done through some formal exchange programmes such as in the areas of human resource development and in the management of natural resources.
My task this afternoon is not to over indulge you with some lengthy speech, but to welcome you and your delegation to Botswana and Gaborone in particular.
It is rather unfortunate that your stay with us is very short as we would have loved to expose you to some other parts of our country where you would have the opportunity to interact with many more of our people.
But I trust that such an opportunity will present itself in the near future.
Botswana shall always be ready to receive Your Excellency or any of your envoys and people.
In conclusion, I wish to reiterate our commitment to support you in the process of implementing the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, more specially in conducting the General Elections set for 2010 and the Referendum to be held in 2011, where the destiny of the Southern Sudan shall be determined.
Your Excellency, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, May I now ask you to stand and join me in drinking a toast to:
* the continued friendship, solidarity and cooperation between the Governments and the People of our two countries,
* to lasting peace and prosperity for the Sudanese people and,
* to International Peace and Security.