opinionBy Jacob K. Lupai
Peaceful co-existence is what is expected of people the world over in promoting security. Nevertheless, how does peaceful co-existence come about? There are many concepts. The main one is respect. Many human rights violation occurs in the absence of respect.
Cordial relations between two neighbours are guided by respect of each neighbour's space. A violation of one's space may invite a retaliatory action which will not augur well with the essence of peaceful co-existence. South Sudan and Sudan are two neighbours. Previously South Sudan was an integral part of united Sudan. However, as it were South Sudan divorced North Sudan which had been like an extremely naughty person. The divorce left North Sudan, now simply known as Sudan, very bitter like a divorcee that had not been adequately compensated and a very bitter divorcee can be extremely dangerous. South Sudan on the other hand was very happy to go separate ways from a forced marriage that was doomed to fail from day one. The challenge now is how to bring about peaceful co-existence between South Sudan and Sudan.
North-South Sudan conflict
North-South Sudan conflict is as old as any story from ancient times and a tedious one to relive. However, brief highlights may be sufficient. North-South conflict was basically the problem of underdevelopment aggravated by racist overtones and religious bigotry by a minority clique in the centre. South Sudan only became a lucrative destination for the representatives of this minority clique to milk whatever resources available. All successive governments of Sudan were dominated by this minority clique whose vision of socio-economic development only favoured central North Sudan. South Sudan was left like a zoo for exploitation and perceived as a land of slaves.
However, the minority clique in their racist overtones and religious bigotry underestimated South Sudan. To correct all the wrongs and injustices perpetrated by the minority clique, South Sudan articulated a mechanism that would have made Sudan a strong united country in Sub Saharan Africa. Nonetheless, in their greed the minority clique rejected outright South Sudan's call for equality of citizenship, equitable development and a secular system of governance as a basis of united Sudan. The circumstances created by the refusal of the minority clique of racists and religious bigots gave South Sudan no choice but to embark on one of the longest armed struggles anywhere else on the continent. South Sudan struggled for a total of 39 years when the minority clique finally realized that it was costly to colonise South Sudan. The minority clique reluctantly agreed to conclude a peace deal with South Sudan.
Comprehensive peace agreement between North and South Sudan
After a protracted second phase of armed struggle lasting some 22 years the minority clique in the North as represented by the National Congress Party (NCP) and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) as representing the South concluded a comprehensive peace agreement (CPA). Among other things the CPA stipulated a six-year interim period where there was self-rule in South Sudan and thereafter a referendum for South Sudan to determine its status either to remain a part of Sudan or to opt for separation and subsequently independence.
In the interim period North-South borders would have been demarcated and the territory of Abyei, which was annexed to North Sudan for administrative purposes during the colonial era, would have had a referendum concurrently with South Sudan. The people of Abyei who were originally from South Sudan were to decide in the referendum either to remain in North Sudan or to join their kindred in South Sudan. The NCP as the dominant ruling party in the central government in the interim period deliberately ignored the demarcation of North-South borders and the referendum in Abyei. It instead manufactured all sorts of obstacles in the implementation of the CPA. Like a very bitter divorcee the NCP wouldn't let the CPA be implemented fully in the interim period.
Independence of South Sudan
At the end of the six-year interim period a referendum was to take place in South Sudan. The NCP tried all types of tricks to obstruct the referendum. However, the SPLM, the dominant ruling party in government in South Sudan, asserted emphatically that the referendum was a red line that couldn't be crossed. The message to the NCP was loud and clear. A return to war was imminent and the NCP knew it would be to blame. The referendum in South Sudan went ahead as planned. The result was a resounding victory for separation and the breakup of Sudan into two independence states of South Sudan and Sudan.
Shortly thereafter South Sudan formally declared itself independent Republic of South Sudan with instant recognition by many countries of the world including Sudan. South Sudanese were celebrating while Sudanese were mourning. It was not difficult to understand why Sudanese were mourning. Independence of South Sudan was a devastating loss for Sudan of the vast resources and wealth to the South which Sudan had taken for granted. All of a sudden Sudan found itself in a miserable situation of having lost the vast oil reserves and luxuriant pastures to South Sudan. This was a bitter blow to the economy of Sudan that understandably the NCP would try any means to destabilise South Sudan in order to have unlimited access to its lost share of resources. This may explain Sudan's bellicose response to the declaration of independence of South Sudan.
Sudan's reaction to independence of South Sudan
Sudan reacted negatively to independence of South Sudan. First Sudan tried to charge exorbitant price for South Sudan to sell its crude oil. Secondly Sudan was stealing South Sudan's crude oil. Thirdly Sudan launched air and ground attacks against targets deep inside South Sudan resulting to unnecessary loss of civilian lives. Fourthly Sudan is adamantly refusing to have the North-South borders demarcated as on 1st January 1956. Fifthly Sudan is fanning flames of conflict by refusing to withdraw from Abyei. Some of all these are grand designs of the NCP to undermine the Republic of South Sudan. The ultimate objective of the NCP is for Sudan to have unimpeded access to resources in South Sudan.
The NCP does not care about what the United Nations Security Council says of Sudan's naked aggression against South Sudan. Sudan is contemptuous of the United Nations Security Council's resolution on deescalating North-South border conflict. It turns a deaf ear to the call of international community to stop bombardment of South Sudan's territories. This is because the NCP is aware that whatever the international community does is just talk and talk, and then begs and begs but nothing else. This encourages Sudan to feel it is in control but not the international community. If this was not the case Sudan wouldn't have defied the United Nations Security Council's call for cessation of hostilities. Sudan continues to bomb target deep inside South Sudan with impunity. The United Nations Security Council should be robust in the case of Sudan.
A no fly zone should have been declared over North-South border areas to check the arrogance of the NCP. Alternatively South Sudan should have been provided with air defense system to safeguard its air space. Presumably it is South Sudan to acquire the capability of air defense. South Sudan has the resources but it is not clear why it is taking too long to have an air defense system. The world is flooded with mercenaries that could do the job magnificently. With abundance of oil reserves it is not difficult to conclude a mortgage with sympathizers and supporters to relieve South Sudan of the current poor air defense system. This could be a strong signal to Sudan as to what to expect for being utterly belligerent.
NCP obstacle to peaceful co-existence
It is abundantly clear that the NCP is the main obstacle to peaceful co-existence between South Sudan and Sudan. The NCP is the obstacle because it later regretted signing the CPA as illustrated by its refusal to cooperate in demarcation of North-South borders and conducting referendum in Abyei. The only way the NCP could do then was to obstruct the implementation of the CPA to the letter.
The NCP succeeded when it obstructed the demarcation of North-South borders and the Abyei referendum. It will continue to obstruct any progress towards resolving the outstanding issues of the CPA. The United Nations Security Council should better take note of this. This is because what the NCP is trying to do is to punish the people of the two sisterly counties for its own catastrophic failures.
The NCP cannot bully South Sudan into submission. It is aware of what South Sudan is capable of. The people of South Sudan and Sudan are ordinary folks who just want to go about their businesses without the intimidating behavior of the NCP. Yesterday they were of the same nationality. It was only when the NCP polarized North and South did the people of South Sudan find it necessary to separate.
Separation did not mean enmity. It was expected that Sudan would be supportive of South Sudan in relevant fields in consolidating their independence for the benefit of the two countries. Instead of courting friendship and cultivating good relations, Sudan embarked on a desperate attempt to colonise South Sudan again. Nonetheless, it is most likely that South Sudan would collaborate with Sudan based on mutual advantage and common interest of the people of both countries. However, the NCP as an oppressive party always wants to dictate its terms on others.
This is evidenced by the battles raging in Darfur, Southern Kordofan and Southern Blue Nile. The only way to promote peaceful co-existence between South Sudan and Sudan, and within Sudan is the total obliteration of the NCP. This is not necessarily through the use of force. The Aboud's and Numeiri's military regimes were not toppled by the use of force in 1964 and 1985 respectively but by the weight of the masses. If all the political forces in Sudan put their differences aside and unite as a block, the NCP will soon be on the exit. This will enormously save the people of Sudan the embarrassment the NCP is causing in frustrating all their efforts for peaceful co-existence with their brothers and sisters in South Sudan.
In conclusion, the NCP is indeed the obstacle to peaceful co-existence between South Sudan and Sudan, and within Sudan. If a poll was taken it would be most probable that the overwhelming majority of people in Sudan would prefer peaceful co-existence to Sudan belligerence. Also if a poll was taken in South Sudan the majority of people might agree to share resources with Sudan on the basis of mutual advantage. What the people of South Sudan will strenuously object, however, is when Sudan engages in deception and dishonesty as the NCP is currently the chief coordinator of deception and dishonesty in Sudan. With the NCP out of the way there will be opportunities for peaceful co-existence between South Sudan and Sudan, and within Sudan. This will naturally encourage the people of the two sisterly countries to work together in the endeavour to improve their living standards through trade. In addition this will promote regional peace and security.
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