opinionBy Justin Ambago Ramba
It cannot be over-emphasized that many of us would want to see that some progress is actually being achieved in the talks on the normalization of the relationship between the Republic of South Sudan and the Republic of Sudan. Yet the realities on the ground by all measures continue to disappoint even the most optimistic of people as the hard facts constantly point in the opposite direction.
And as time passes by many including the Sudanese themselves on both sides of the political divided may now begin to appreciate, some maybe for the first time that the now two separate entities that used to form the former united Sudan has indeed come a long way apart. Look at even the most basic, but yet vital issues like peaceful coexistence and good neighborliness between the two, these have all but lately become more elusive.
Maybe now is the time for the people themselves to start to adjust to these changes in the relationship. This is important for if both sides are not yet ready for normalization then let it be. Trying to force a relationship down people's throat is what the so-called International community is imposing on the people of Sudan regardless of which of the two countries they belong to. Otherwise for Christ's sake why is all this hypocrisy when down inside people know that they are still not ready but even not willing to let go of the past bitterness?
Reflecting on this so-called Cooperation Agreement between the two Sudans signed on the 27th of September 2012, not even a single iota in any of the already damaged relationships between Juba and Khartoum has seen any improvement. Just considering this is enough to convince everyone to leave alone the empty talks about cooperation, Oil transportation and the rest of the dream that only exists on the signed paper.
With time Khartoum will learn how to survive without the Oil money from the wells in the south which are now under a separate government in Juba. South Sudan on its part regardless of the hardships and difficulties it faces, it must learn to adjust to the realities on the ground. Juba must learn to survive, exist but even excel in life without Khartoum if its population that overwhelmingly opted for secession from Khartoum is to see a meaning to their votes.
However the leaderships in both Sudan and South Sudan are not being sincere to themselves nor are they being so to their people. Juba is extending its hand of friendship towards Khartoum just in an attempt to pacify the discontent in its own backyard; otherwise it knows very well that nothing has changed in Khartoum. But even if there were any changes, they might have probably been for the worse.
Khartoum on the other hand equally understands that the traditional position taken by Juba towards the "Jallaba" expansionists have not changed and will not change. In spite of all this we still see delegations from Khartoum travelling to meet their counterparts in Juba on a mission whose outcome have been predetermined and the reverse is also true. Who are those that the NCP and the SPLM are conspiring to fool?!!
Even in Addis Ababa it there hasn't really been many changes besides the coming into office of the new head of the African Union Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and the other is the new Ethiopian head of state H.E. Hailemariam Desalgen, the new prime minister of the Federal Republic of Ethiopian who replaces the late Prime Minister Meles Zinawi. Thus by all standards it is largely believed that the dynamics of politics in the corridors of the African Union's H. Qs in Addis Ababa remain practically the same.
The chair of the African Union High Level Implementation Panel (AUHLIP), President Thabo Mbeki is still responsible for the AU dossier on the Sudan even after it has moved to become two Sudans. And unsurprisingly this veteran politician and die hard pan Africanist maintains that African solutions must be found for African problems. It's worth noting here that it was this same Thabo Mbeki who worked hard with others in the AU to block the arrest of Omer al Bashir as requested by the International Criminal Court [ICC] over the genocide committed in Darfur by the Khartoum government.
Now according to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution 2046, Sudan and South Sudan should have already by now ironed their differences or otherwise face a UN directed sanctions. To everyone's dismay the 27th September 2012 Cooperation Agreement between Juba and Khartoum is far away from being implemented and instead of reporting this back to the UNSC for the stipulated sanctions since the two sides have failed to achieve any tangible progress, instead Mbeki chose to give the two sides an extra time to attempt and solve what none of them command the necessary political will that is so much needed to deal with these kind of matters.
You don't need to worry so much for here lies the gist of the matter. For as long as Khartoum is aware that the leadership of the African Union is still with those who chose to protect Omer Bashir from the ICC and forsake the people of Darfur, and then they [Khartoum government] can lie assured that the issues between the two Sudans will never reach the UNSC.
Thabo Mbeki and his team will do everything to mislead the UNSC into believing that the AU is doing its best to bring peace in the region. But then what will be the true outcome? Everybody knows Mbeki's limitations and as he quitted the dossier of Darfur, he too can quit the South Sudan - Sudan dossier any time from now once the going gets tough and of course no peace will be realized in the region. They will never bring peace!
If it is anything to go by, then those who continue to believe in African solutions for African problems must be prepared to see Abyei remaining in limbo forever and so will be the fate of the many disputed areas along the ill-defined borders between the two countries. Not only that, but even the borders between South Sudan and Sudan will never be drawn allowing Khartoum to freely drop its bombs on either side of this vague territory with complete impunity. And that's exactly what Khartoum wants!
Coming to the so-called 4 - 5th January 2013 Agreement signed in Addis Ababa between President Salva Kiir and his northern counterpart president Omer Bashir, those who read through this document will live to tell the truth about the document. Was it really an Agreement in any way? Obviously not!
Everything that appeared in the so-called 4 - 5th January Agreement are the same things that were already agreed upon in previous Agreements and were only pending implementation. So what was it? Was it that Kiir and Bashir re-agreed on what they had already agreed on but they failed to implement? And what purpose does that serve?
To cut a long story short, it is obvious that once again the two leaders have failed to agree on how to precede with the implementation of the 27th September Cooperation Agreement. This is it! But what was the document that they signed which the hosts misleadingly called an Agreement?
Those who don't know the exact nature of that document signed at the end of the January 5, 2013 meeting don't really have so much to worry about, after all it was nothing more than a countersigned attendance certificate awarded by the AUHIP to the presidents of South Sudan and Sudan for having taken the burden of travelling all the way from their respective countries and participate in a two day dialogue whose outcome was predestined to fail.
Anyway there is no need to rush to a conclusion. Let's wait for the so-called matrix to be produced by Thabo Mbeki's team and see how they are going to help in the unconditional implementation of all the sections of the re-agreed on 'Agreement'. For it's only when the two sides fail to honour this "magical matrix", then and maybe only then will the world come to understand that South Sudan and Sudan have already drifted too much apart that any cooperation between the two at this particular moment in time is at its best a wishful thinking.