By: Justin Ambago Ramba
April 28, 2012 (SSNA) — Within the wider South Sudanese circles no doubt that the general consensus remains the consolidation of the internal front in order to effectively confront the ‘Jallaba’ aggression, however for this to be successful there are a number of issues that needs addressing if at all we are to pull ourselves up as a strong and unified people at this time of crisis. This is a time for soul searching, but above all it is an important time for the leadership to do a reflective learning. We need to sincerely answer this question: what are the lessons learnt from the Panthou War?
It is twice now that our gallant military forces have been in such a similar situation, first in Abyei and now in Panthou (Heglig) and although the two experiences may differ in their details both wars run parallels. How we went in, how we conducted the battles and how we ended them are all imported lessons that the leadership in Juba must be ready to address and in all cases must also be willing to provide explanations.
It is understandable how important is the positions taken by the so-called International Community in as far as the two wars are concerned. Yet we too are also members of the same international community and our position is also worth considering with equal sensitivity. To an extend we pose to differ from them (the other members of the international community) in that it is we who bear the brunt of the atrocities by the very nature of the crisis. And for this reason we feel fully justified should our position or perception differ from what the UN or the AU thinks or opts to adopt.
To be very sincere it is with bitterness that one acknowledges the fact that since the South Sudan military ended its control of Panthou one week ago, it became abundantly clear that we in South Sudan have again lost another dear part of our motherland. For how long is this scenario going to take us and how many times will we be relinquishing our territories to the enemy and yet talk of liberating the land? Why did our troops overtake Panthou (Heglig) in the first place? Different people high up in the leadership have given us different answers. So bluntly speaking can we know whether we were there to reclaim Panthou or was it simply to prevent Khartoum from using it to step attacks on us? And how much have we so far achieved of whatever that we wanted to achieve? These are all crucial questions that will need answers.
On the other hand we are hearing that the UN Security Council is considering a draft resolution to back the African Union’s decision which calls on both South Sudan and Sudan to resume talks on the outstanding issues and to reach an agreement within three months. This far one can only say that Hon. Susan Rice the US representative to the UN Security Council and its President for the month of April 2012 understands too well that unless the UNSC uses chapter VII to strengthen the AU road map, Khartoum has already made it clear that it won’t resume any negotiations as expressed by its president Omer Hassan al-Bashir who ruled out any talks and said that South Sudan only understands the “language of the gun”.
"We will not negotiate with the South’s government, because they don’t understand anything but the language of the gun and ammunition," Bashir told Sudanese troops in Heglig earlier this week.
While we look forward for a new working relationship with them, it is worth stressing here that the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and the international community including the African Union (AU) and the Arab League (AL) seriously need to revisit their initial positions if they are to be impartial in the South Sudan-Sudan crisis. They never came out neither to condemn nor to hold the Khartoum government responsible for the atrocities it have so far committed and still continues to do so against the people of South Sudan. This we will continue to hold against them until they come out clean.
It was in the most unprecedented way that during the ten days control of Panthou (Heglig) by the South Sudanese army that the new country witnessed the most horrendous barges of international and regional condemnations. There were even those who accused it of backing the Sudanese rebels from Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan. These are all of course allegations that although we consider being some kind of a malicious enemy propaganda, but still if we are to find a formula for peaceful neughbourly coexistence, then both sides have to make it unconditionally back to the negotiations table and the sooner this is done the better for everyone.
Again reading between the lines the Sudan government is clearly trying to avoid a negotiated settlement as it continues to express reservations over the UNSC involvement.
“We are members of the African Union. We respect everything that comes from the African Union. That doesn’t mean anything comes from the African Union or African Peace and Security Council being or to be exploited by certain members here in the Security Council and try to for their own sake,” Sudan’s UN ambassador told reporters.
The ambassador appeared critical of using Chapter VII of the UN charter in the resolution saying that Sudan’s understanding is that it should be directed to the “aggressor”. But he also went on to criticize even the timeframe included in AUPSC decision describing them as “it is very short”.
Sudanese officials who are experts at buying time and killing initiatives can now be seen bombarding the international media with all kinds of conflicting statements. Some continue to echo al Bashir’s rigid position of no negotiations with the republic of South Sudan, while others like the foreign minister Ali Karti struck different tones when he suggested in Addis Ababa that negotiations could be restarted on security issues only and particularly on Juba’s alleged support to rebels fighting to topple regime in Khartoum.
Omer al Bashir and his clique in Khartoum cannot expect to win the fight over their armed opposition which stretches from Darfur in western Sudan through the Nuba Mountain in the Central region to the Blue Nile and the Beja in the East and North East by pushing all the blame on Juba. Because Juba which cannot even support its own population after shutting down its Oil industry will need a miracle to support wars in other countries. One thing however is for certain and that the ‘Jallaba’ are now scared to the bone and will use all tactics to gain outside sympathy and survive even if that means issuing such silly statements about Juba’s role in what is categorically not only an internal but also an inherent Sudanese governance crisis.
The people of the nascent state of South Sudanese are not warmongers and all they want is a return of their annexed territories and the full demarcation of their country’s international borders with the Sudan to the north as they stood on 01/01/1956. Should the only way to achieve peace between the two Sudans necessitate some kind of a UNSC sanctions so let it be. And should the ultimate implementation of the remaining Comprehensive Peace Agreement’s (CPA) Protocols such that South Sudan can finally be awarded the full control over its territories, so let it be. Should the implementation of the UN chapter VII offer the only hope for the much missing democratic transformation in the two Sudans, so let it be. The ball has long been in the UNSC’s courtyard. They have the chapter VII and they have the expertise, so what are they waiting for?
Author: Dr. Justin Ambago Ramba. He can be reached at: [email protected] or [email protected]