The Addis Ababa post-secession talks between the Republic of Sudan and Sudan South failed last Saturday due to Khartoum familiar behaviors of twisting facts. In addition to their previous "impossible" demands placed on South Sudan to sever ties with and help disarm the SPLM-N, Khartoum created a last-minute-diversion over the Abyei Referendum and the 14 Mile Area. And sensing through such unreasonableness, South Sudan Delegation stuck it out with them.
In order to continue buying time, Khartoum wants to bring Kiir Adem Payam--the 14 Mile Area-- into play and use it as a bargaining chip as they had done in the past over the SPLM-N or other disputed areas. But by not buying into this malicious shifting of goal-post, South Sudan Delegation came home empty handed last Saturday. After all, what is in for South Sudan if it gives up everything and receives nothing in return? Absolutely nothing, period.
Let it be known that from day one, Aweil Community position has been and is very clear on the 14 Mile area: the land has never been disputed and never will it be in future. Yes, over the years, we had made special arrangements to allow our neighbors a passage for water and pasture. However, because of the hurried Cooperation Agreement of 27 September, Khartoum is now emboldened and it lays claim to the land in question. It must not be appeased with this land!
Now with resumption of negotiations set for mid February 2013, we advise South Sudan Delegation to categorically reject any attempt by Khartoum to make the 14 Mile a disputed area. Like any other state in the republic, Northern Bhar el Ghazal State expects South Sudan Negotiators to ink only agreement that guarantee protection of Kiir Adem Payam inhabitants and indivisibility of Northern Bhar el Ghazal State ancestral land.
Therefore, we encourage the negotiators to be resilient; do not be overawed by external pressure.
Just like our gallant forces have demonstrated their brave defense of Kiir Adem Payam on 26 December 2012 from Khartoum attempt to forcefully occupy the area as it did in Abyei in May 2011, we expect South Sudan Negotiating Team not to frustrate those hard earned efforts. If they had not learned anything then, they must know that the UN and AU/AUHIP did not stop occupation of Abyei, nor will they stop Khartoum from occupying the14 Mile Area if the South Sudan Negotiation Team acquiesces to demilitarization without guarantees from Sudan.
In brief, we must weigh carefully what we give up or agree to in the next rounds of talks. South Sudan Delegation must not assent to another round of "impossible" demands from Khartoum.In other words, negotiations must be finite exercise; not subject to infinite as Khartoum is doing.
Disclaimer: Aweil Today-US Media Team is a grassroots Aweil Community effort to sensitize the deceitful ways of Khartoum and to offer a counterargument to making an undisputed land such as the 14 Mile Area a disputed one.