Ngo Dinh Diem on national elections (1955)

On July 16th 1955, South Vietnamese leader Ngo Dinh Diem explained to his people why he had rejected the Geneva Accords and national elections:


The National Government has emphasised time and time again the price it has paid for the defence of the unity of the country and of true democracy. We did not sign the Geneva Agreements. We are not bound in any way by these agreements, signed against the will of the Vietnamese people. Our policy is a policy of peace, but nothing will lead us astray from our goal: the unity of our country — a unity in freedom and not in slavery. Serving the cause of our nation more than ever, we will struggle for the reunification of our homeland.

We do not reject the principle of free elections as peaceful and democratic means to achieve that unity. Although elections constitute one of the bases of true democracy, they will be meaningful only on the condition that they are absolutely free.

Faced now with a regime of oppression as practiced by the Viet Minh, we remain sceptical concerning the possibility of fulfilling the conditions of free elections in the North. We shall not miss any opportunity which would permit the unification of our homeland in freedom, but it is out of the question for us to consider any proposal from the Viet Minh if proof is not given that they put the superior interests of the National Community above those of communism, if they do not cease violating their obligations as they have done by preventing our countrymen of the North from going South or by recently attacking, together with the communist Pathet Lao, the friendly state of Laos.

The mission falls to us, the Nationalists, to accomplish the reunification of our country in conditions that are most democratic and most effective to guarantee our independence. The Free World is with us. Of this we are certain. I am confident that I am a faithful interpreter of our state of mind when 1 affirm solemnly our will to resist communism. To those who live above the 17th parallel, I ask them to have confidence. With the agreement and the backing of the Free World, the National Government will bring you independence in freedom.”