Streaming video of Ms. Garang's speech is available via the righthand column of this page. Verbatim transcripts will be posted shortly.

Rebecca Garang, Southern Sudanese Minister of roads and Transportation, and widow of the late Vice President and Sudan People's Liberation Movement leader John Garang, expressed her frustration at the roadblocks that are hindering the efforts to consolidate the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in afternoon discussion at Woodrow Wilson Center on February 1, 2006. She was the second high-ranking Southern Sudanese leader to discuss the topic, following a Director's Forum with Salva Kiir Mayardit, her husband's longtime deputy and successor last November.

Minister Garang emphasized the need for the continued international pressure on the Sudanese central government in Khartoum in order to ensure that it respects its commitment to consolidate the CPA, which ended one of Africa's longest and deadliest civil wars. Describing herself as the "watchdog" of the CPA, which she referred to as "Sudan's Holy Bible," Garang criticized the attitude of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and his ruling National Congress Party (NPC), accusing them of not complying with the terms of the CPA and delaying its full implementation. She repeatedly voiced her intention to follow in her husband's footsteps and pledged her support to South Sudanese President Kiir. Noting her role as Minister for Roads and Transportation, Garang pointed out the tremendous challenges that lay ahead in addressing Southern Sudan's fragile infrastructure, which still remains a major impediment towards bringing development to the region, fifty years after national independence.

Reiterating the position that First Vice President Kiir expressed in November, Garang accused the Sudanese government of grossly mismanaging the country's vast oil resources and criticized Khartoum's lack of transparency in sharing oil revenue information. Specifically, she pointed out that only 350 million of the 1.5 billion dollars of expected oil revenue had been accounted for in 2005 and deemed the withholding of oil profits as a major violation of the CPA's revenue sharing plan, especially considering that Sudan's oil producing areas are concentrated in the south. In addition, Garang conveyed her disappointment over the nomination of the NPC-nominated Minister of Energy as Chairman of the National Petroleum Commission, viewing this as further provocation from the North and a symbol of the government's lack of goodwill in implementing the CPA, which stipulated that the Commission was to be headed in a non-partisan way.

Garang also discussed the conflict in Darfur as having a major impact on the implementation of the CPA and insisted on the crucial role that the SPLM must play in bringing peace to the war-torn region. Considering this matter one that impacts on regional stability, the Minister emphatically called on the government to include the SPLM in any solution to the crisis and questioned the policy of dealing with Darfur in isolation. It is obvious, she said, that the issues at the heart of the Darfur crisis and the North-South war "are one and the same". According to Garang, peace in Darfur cannot be achieved until the CPA is implemented, as this should provide incentive to open real deliberations for a resolution. Related to the Darfur crisis, the Minister also expressed her concerns over the increasing civil unrest in neighboring Chad, whose authorities have repeatedly accused the Sudanese government of fermenting disorder in Chad and supporting rebellious elements within the Chadian armed forces.

Also of concern to Garang is the continued involvement of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) in Southern Sudan. Seeing the continued mingling of the LRA in Sudanese affairs as a "counter-insurgency of Southern Sudan," the Minister considered that the issue required a regional solution and increased international community involvement in order to resolve the turmoil in Northern Uganda.. She expressed her disappointment at the ineffectiveness of the African Union peace mission in Southern Sudan and called for its reinforcement in order to secure the roads leading to Kenya, to ensure lower prices for goods transiting to Juba and the surrounding areas and to put an end to the brutal exactions committed by the LRA troops.

In the question and answer session, Garang developed the themes sounded in her presentation and called upon several of her senior aides to add their own observations. With regard to the role of women in Southern Sudan, Garang stated the urgent necessity for capacity building among all Southern Sudanese and among women in particular. Also, Garang promised to investigate an allegation that several women in Juba had been put to death for allegedly having committed adultery. The status of child-soldiers was also raised and the Minister pledged to work with Kenya and Uganda in order to disarm and demobilize youths, particularly in the Upper Nile area.

Regarding the developing tensions in Eastern Sudan, a member of Garang's delegation announced hat the Sudan People's Liberation Army's (SPLA) presence in Eastern Sudan will be terminated and all SPLA troops will be redeployed south of the 1956 demarcation line.

Garang emphasized the importance of the international community's assistance in fostering democratic traditions at the grassroots level, saying that "democracy is a process that must develop and grow within a society," and that until a consensus is reached amongst Southerners, there could be no room for satisfying individual egos. Questioned on the future of Sudanese unity after the envisioned independence referendum to be held six years after the signing of the CPA, Garang declared her desire to maintain a unified Sudan. She said her position had been altered by her realization that over 6 million "Africans" lived in the north and that they could not be abandoned to their fate..

In the conclusion of her remarks, Minister Garang assured the audience of her commitment to the ongoing struggle towards the implementation of the CPA, referring to the agreement as her new "husband" and "the eye of our people."