7 June 2012

Sudan: Urgent Need to Settle North South Sudan Border

Photo: Tim McKulka/ UN Photo
A young girl rests on the way to seek shelter after fleeing heavy fighting in Abyei (file photo).

KHARTOUM CONTINUATION TO PROVOKE & VIOLATE THE SOUTH and the NCP Talk of war: The North South Border Question MUST BE RESOLVED NOW!

June 6, 2012 - Although this may sound like 'old news', one is not at peace not knowing what Khartoum's NCP maybe having up their sleeves or their next move, especially at the backdrop of the regional and international community seeming complacency on the whole Outstanding Issues, more than 10 months down the road since our Independence in July 2011. Admittedly, it is an huge relief that both negotiating teams are in Addis Ababa after weeks of back and forth resistance from Khartoum to return to the peaceful table. The world 'stood by'; passed a UN Security Council Resolution and the AU drew up a road map etc and more! Furthermore, it is the same world community which watches, analyzes and given the political will, this community will take stern action such aggressors as the NCP. The only missing ingredient in the African and world community is their political will to save innocent lives in the Republic of South Sudan and thousands more in the Sudan, all from Bashir's NCP's attacks? On the other hand, the NCP increasingly doing a full circle of 'peace platforms shopping' as defined once by our Late Hero, Founding father of the Nation, Dr. John Garang once said. More so, do we have other NCP's delayed tactics; pulling of robes, for they thrive in confusion. The VIEWS HEREIN are my entire personal and MAY NOT NECESSARILY REPRESENT THE SPLM's.

MEANWHILE, should we down play or turn a blind eye and deaf ear to the NCP last month's call for war, attacks on us as a people and government? If we may recall, last month, while addressing the media in Khartoum shortly after South Sudan responded to the call to withdraw from Panthou or 'Heglig', the Sudan minister of Defense Abdul Raheem Mohammed Hussein claimed they had captured Heglig, an area which is contested between the 'Two Sudans'; Republic of South Sudan and the Sudan. The quote from the Sudan defense minister as follows: [Abdul Raheem Mohammed Hussein]: "Our forces entered the area of Heglig at 2:20 PM, attended the Friday prayers and thanksgiving Prayer inside Heglig." A few days later, Bashir told a huge rally in Sudan that he would teach the SPLA a lesson they would never forget. He threatened to seize Juba and liberate Southerners from the bad rule of SPLA. I personally stand for; South Sudan did NOT just wake up one morning and decided to "occupy" Panthou or 'Heglig'. President Salva Kiir has always followed a policy of refraining from military action. In the run up to the Referendum and Independence, he specifically and repeatedly so, instructed his commanders not to be provoked by Khartoum's military aggression, and not to retaliate. This policy proved to be the best tactful way to halt any possible antics by the NCP to quash any of our last but most important then CPA element; the Referendum, Comrade President's approach was thus remarkably successful and helped to deliver a peaceful Referendum and Independence. President Salva Kiir continued to pursue a similar non-military policy for 9 months or so after Independence. The Khartoum government has been (and continues to do so) launching ground and air attacks against South Sudan since we declared independence on July 9th, 2011. During all of this, our national gallant army, the SPLA did not retaliate offensively, limiting itself to pushing SAF out of Jau (in South Sudan) but stopping when it reached the current border (which, has since been established is not the 1956 border per our official RSS map released most recently).

Thus, our gallant army action, in self defense was not out of line! Any country in the world would have done the same if not more. Attacking one's sovereign state is an aggression, repeatedly so, is an enough reason to retaliate even more! We are an independent sovereign state and our government is justified to protect its people through our national army. In addition, it has also since been established that it was erroneous to insist that Panthou or 'Heglig' is a town north or south of the 1956 border until the 1956 Border Question has been agreed upon and demarcated to the satisfaction of both sides. This is our popular opinion by us South Sudanese manifested through the patriotic applauds by many of us over the past few weeks in support of brave national army, the SPLA. It is further crucial to add the 'average humanely' dimensions of the looming war; talks or threats of war or otherwise and its negative impact on the people, both in the South and North of the 'Two Sudans'. Food prices continue to soar on both sides of the borders and currencies are reeling as officials scramble to make up for the sudden loss of revenues in both countries. For us in the South, we may have two persuasive arguments; we are used to not having food, shelter etc as we experienced war at first hand hence we are more resilient to such extreme measures of belting up our stomachs, HOWEVER, we are also very sick and tired of wars and its negative impact on us, decades of wars, we want peace and stability in all forms. As for the people of the Sudan (North Sudanese), I can only imagine how 'Khartoumians' must be shocked by the impact of all this...but is it fair on anyone?!? THIS IS AMID WIDE SPECULATIONS BY ANALYSTS that Bashir's NCP is fighting for its survival and that there are serious fears of possible popular uprisings in the Sudan (North Sudan). This is an increasing political trend with popular uprisings recently convulsing the Middle East. Many analysts in East Africa and South Sudan in particular have predicted Sudan's President Bashir, in power since a 1989 military coup; will soon meet the same fate as leaders in neighbouring Egypt and Libya etc. Furthermore, three quarters of the budget goes to Sudan's military, security forces and high-level officials, and if this is true, Bashir's government may not be able to get out of this miserable economic situation, INSTEAD the continuation of the current bloody political and economic instability in Bashir's Sudan could lead to a "Somalia situation", and fear of chaos like that affecting the failed states as being experienced against military dictatorial rulers, Libya, Egypt, Syria etc. could PUSH many (Northern) Sudanese to a series of popular uprising and demand of change of regime.

MEANWHILE, Khartoum's likely SURVIVAL scenarios

Walking out of AU-facilitated negotiations in Addis Ababa; they did it during IGAD and earlier peace talks, they also did it in Addis Ababa most recently. The NCP likely to do it again and again to derail the process and confuse everyone along the process! - Making unreasonable demands /or making unclear or unspecified positions e.g. on econo-oil issues, their demands of more than ten times the international standard fees for transit of South Sudanese oil through its pipelines and politically/militarily, they have 'agreed' to pull out of Abeyi, but they have not specified when and how. YET THE WORLD COMMUNITY IS YET TO DEMAND of the NCP a clear cut withdrawal from Abeyi as they did with us during Panthou.

Abrogated agreements which it had already signed e.g. the agreement on the status of South Sudanese in Sudan. Khartoum, NCP or otherwise is historically notorious on abrogating agreements; the Addis Ababa has always been our benchmark. So who can or should trust Khartoum? More recently is the Abyei Protocol for the right to self-determination and Referendum conduction; this Protocol was signed; i.e. ought to have been a done deal just as the South one, WHY ARE WE STILL TALKING ABYEI ROAD MAP? Who can trust Khartoum on any road map, on Abeyi or otherwise? Mind you, the NCP still continues its military occupation of the disputed area of Abyei. The immediate question pegging itself; what's the fate of NCP-occupied disputed Panthou or 'Heglig'? NEEDLESS to add, Khartoum continues to blatantly harass South Sudanese in the Sudan (in the North) and brutally violating people in Darfur, South Kordofan (Nuba people) and South Blue Nile? It is important to add, lest we forget, the NCP has shown total dishonesty and siphoned a percentage of South Sudan's oil - YET NO EXTERNAL, INTERNATIONAL OR REGIONAL ENTIES have uttered an against position on this thievery!

The NCP bombing of civilians well inside the Republic of South Sudan in Bentiu in Unity State shouldn't go unnoticed; the NCP must be held accountable for every loss of innocent lives in the areas they bombed civilians in the Republic of South Sudan. It is promising they are signing (but given above scenarios of NCP) on cessation of hostilities talks/agreements in Addis as we speak, but they committed an act of aggression of another state and this they should pay for it! The NCP began bombing us since last year. And they talk of war, removal of an elected government from Juba and that we are insects - all are calls for war.

Such talks of the NCP must not be taken lightly neither should be let scoff free of the above gross violations and acts of inter-state aggression. They must be held accountable for these crimes. It is the only way to deter them from any future aggressions and to adhere to good peaceful sisterly neighborly relations with us or any other country for that matter!

Suzanne Jambo, a South Sudanese human rights and constitutional lawyer, a former CPA SPLM negotiator, 1998-2005. A civil society activist/practioner & has since 2008-date been serving as the SPLM Secretary for External Relations. She authored a book on women's rights; Overcoming Gender Bias and Conflict, the Case of New Sudan Women in 2001. Suzanne writes/contributes on various socio-legal, peace, political & governance and cultural issues.

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InFocus

AU Rebukes the Sudans' Delay to Enforce Roadmap

A young girl rests on the way to seek shelter after fleeing heavy fighting in Abyei (file photo).

The African Union has warned that Sudan and South Sudan have no choice but to implement the peace and security roadmap endorsed by the union and the United Nations. Read more »