It gives me great pleasure to extend a warm welcome to you in our capital, Khartoum, as you embark on the deliberations pertinent to the African continent's issues.
I am also honored to convey to you the sincere gratitude and appreciation of our people and government for your kind acceptance of our invitation to participate in the conference's proceedings, on both the Ministerial level and at the Summit.
I hope that you will have a pleasant stay in Khartoum and that your deliberations of all issues concerning our continent will produce the desired fruitful results, for the welfare and happiness of all our people in Africa.
These meetings coincide with the celebrations of the 50 th Anniversary of our Independence, which was achieved on January 1 St 1956, and with another landmark event, the first Anniversary of the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), which had taken place on January 9 th 2005 in Nairobi.
This reaffirms the strong ties between Sudan and the rest of the African countries, since Sudan in effect, is the microcosm of Africa, rich in its ethnic, cultural, religious, and linguistic diversity, as well as its diverse natural resources.
The achievement of peace in Sudan carries a strong incentive for mobilizing all our efforts, and boosting our morale to move forward towards fulfilling our responsibility of nation building, on the basis of unity, Justice, equality, democratic participation, and the equal distribution of wealth and power.
We strongly believe the CPA contains comprehensive solutions for the resolutions for the problems of the Sudan, and it constitutes the ideal framework for the resolution of all conflict in our country. In fact, we believe that the CPA provides a model for the settlement of similar conflicts and disputes in the African continent.
As you all know, the achievement of peace entails certain obligations that must be met. We have been exerting all efforts to implement the CPA and have gone a long way . We have passed the Transitional Constitution according to which we have established the Presidency, the Government of National Unity, the State Governments, the Government of South Sudan, the Legislative Councils, on both national and state levels, as well as most of the agreed upon commissions.
We have promptly proceeded with meeting our commitments towards peace, and we are indeed aware of all the great challenges we shall encounter along the way. But we also believe that it is now the international community's turn to fulfill its own commitments, those made in Oslo's Donors' Conference of April 2005, and to translate intentions and pledges into resources we can utilize, not only to help execute programs for the repatriation of the displaced and the voluntary return of refugees, but furthermore, for reconstruction and development.
These are challenges that cannot be overcome in the absence of a genuine partnership, where local efforts can be combined with international efforts to help us move forward in a concerted manner. We would hence like to renew our plea for the international community to satisfy these commitments expeditiously.
On behalf of our people and government, I would like to take this opportunity to convey my appreciation and gratitude to our sisterly countries in the African continent that have exerted keen efforts to help achieve comprehensive peace in our country, through both bilateral means, as well as through the framework of IGAD and its friends.
We believe that peace will never be complete without expanding it through the diligent negotiations in Abuja, to include the entire especially the people of Darfur and Eastern Sudan. I would like to specially express our appreciation and gratitude for Nigeria and to commend its leader, our friend Obasanjo for the wisdom by which he has been handling negotiation file of Darfur.
Placed before you are a number of crucial issues, that affect the fate of our African continent. The most crucial being, our keen efforts to revitalize our African Union to enable it to handle our political, economic, social, educational, and cultural issues with wisdom and perseverance.
On yo ur agenda are several vital issues that have been reviewed by our relevant ministers, on health, employment, trade, animal resources, and education, science and technology, and women affairs. These have a result of the diligent efforts exerted by our experts on the relevant fields, and we have full confidence in the wisdom by which you will examine and articulate these issues, for endorsement by our leaders in their Summit meeting.
Your task will include the review of past achievements, which had been realized as a result of intensive efforts exerted by the Union's members. Some of the issues placed before you are:
• Our vision for the reform of the United Nations, particularly, the Security Council, in a manner which will safeguard the continent's right to express its concerns and issues.
• Our vision for the promotion and protection of human rights. The proposal for the special support fund for African countries affected by the rise of oil prices.
• The proposal for establishing an African stock market and its location.
• Our vision for confronting the challenges in the social, cultural and educational fields.
• Our vision for the status of information technology, following the Information Society Summit held in Tunisia in November 2005.
I hope that you will avail this proposal your consideration and fruitful deliberation, since we believe that this mechanism will benefit our people in Africa in a direct and tangible way.
With these words, I have the honor to announce the opening of your Executive Council, wishing you again, a pleasant stay in Khartoum and fruitful deliberations.
Thank you and may God bless you.