Holding Juba & Khartoum to unconditionally implement agreements

By: Justin Ambago Ramba

June 11, 2013 (SSNA) — Whenever one hears about Sudan, you know that some government Antonov planes must have bombed civilian villages in Darfur, the Nuba Mountains or the Blue Nile regions. Or it has displaced its own people, forcing them to take refuge in caves or underground holes. Occasionally it could be about some Islamist security agents heavy handedly cracking down on peaceful demonstrators or opposition figures.

But of recent Sudan is also caught up in a series of military humiliations in the hands of the Sudan Revolutionary Forces (SRF) – an alliance of the different Darfuri rebel groups and the SPLM- North. In between you will hear claims of victories and loses on both sides.

In the South, there is the new republic of South Sudan (RSS), which has filled the world media with its record breaking levels of corruption and senior officials being accused of embezzling no less $4 billion dollars from the public fund and yet the government cannot do anything about it.

When it is not corruption, it must be either people killed in dozens in a cattle raid, or one tribe organizing to wipe out another from the surface of the earth, not to talk of the well-known phenomenon of one rebel group joining the government and another attacking government position elsewhere. Or worse still citizens being killed, or made to disappear on daily basis all across the country, but especially so in the capital city of Juba.

But when you hear about Sudan and South Sudan in one and same piece of news, then it must be a fight over how to transport the Oil which happens to be largely in the landlocked RSS and can only at the present be transported to the international markets through the territories of its archenemy the Sudan.

It is in the background of the aforementioned myriad of events that no sensible government in these parts of the world should be overheard, that its cabinet is unable to meeting because they lack an agenda. 

Juba finally finds for itself one long agenda.

Although the last paragraph above, should have it that the world can never run out of agenda if president Omer al Bashir of Sudan still rules in Khartoum and Salva Kiir in Juba – yet the new republic of South Sudan, that should have known better, only came to appreciate this fact through the hard way on Saturday June 8, 2013, when Khartoum announced its intentions to immediately close down the oil pipeline and cut off South Sudan’s oil.

Almost as if recovering from a deep coma, Salva Kiir’s cabinet who until Friday June 7, 2013, failed to hold its weekly meeting due to lack of agenda [reported Sudan tribune June 7, 2013 (JUBA)] were to be proven wrong.   President Kiir, who was not ready to brief the cabinet on his recent trip to Japan and wanted to continue further relaxing following his long absence, had no choice but to call an emergency meeting on Sunday, June 9, 2013 in response to the al Bashir’s bombshell.

Now that Juba has been reminded that there is going to be no any shortages of agenda any soon, the South Sudanese masses at home and in the Diaspora expect the government to come up with a clear position on how to deal with Khartoum,  now, in the immediate future and in the long run.

The real problems only made worst by the UNSC and the AU complacency.

Those who know it will tell you that the real problems in both the Sudans are basically the absence of democracy and the lack basic freedoms. Even the new republic of South Sudan that came into being as a result of years of devastating liberation wars fought against successive governments in Khartoum, which the freedom fighters had accused of being totalitarian, dictatorial and discriminative.  

However two years now after independence and those supposed to have been liberated by the ruling SPLM/A are yet to speak freely, in what is now their own country.

Juba may have some moral obligation to defend the rights of its former comrades in Darfur, Nuba Mountains, and the Blue Nile regions. Unfortunately for it to be taken seriously as a defender of human rights, it must first show that it is better than the NCP regime in Khartoum, by offering these much needed freedoms, first to its own citizens who continue to be oppressed under the SPLM/A in a fashion no less than those marginalized by the NCP in the Arab Islamic Republic of Sudan.

The international community [UNSC & AU] has behaved in a way much marked by continuous change of goal posts in their dealing with both Sudan and South Sudan. The promised democratic transformation to a true multiparty system of governance is now replaced by some kind of dubious peacekeeping missions which pretend to keep a peace that never existed in the first place.

The AU on the other hand is no more than a talking club or in the words of Mwaulimu Julius Nyerere former president of Tanzania, “it is a trade union of Africa’s dictators”.  It   surprises no one that it [AU] is unable to find everlasting solutions to the Sudanese problems – which are in fact problems shared all across the continent as it lacks democracy, transparency, good governance, and rule of law, accountability and above all the limitation of the term of office for dictators that litter the whole continent.

On January 25, 2013 the AUPSC over saw a communique signed between Juba & Khartoum for the unconditional implementation of the September 27, 2012 cooperation agreement. This maybe the best position ever arrived to by the organisation, however unless it is prepared to enforce the implementation of this communique the way it was signed, the AU is on its way to become ‘a big toothless mouth’,   just  like its predecessor the OAU.

Depending on the good will of the two leaders, who both happen to rule their countries with iron fists, makes the AU unrealistic in its search for peace across the two Sudans.  The good will between the leaders do not exist,  because if it does, all these issues at hand would have been long tackled, away from the spotlights of the AU or the United Nations, given the long history shared by the political rivals in the region.

Reactions, in streets …

Al Bashir’s latest announcement,  ordering the closure of the oil pipelines came as no surprise to anyone who follows the events over  the last couple of weeks, as  they kept unfolding in the border regions between the two Sudans.  Furthermore, his plan to pull out of the 27th September Cooperation Agreement with Juba is all but the same thing.

To the common South Sudanese citizen, these endless talks on relationship with Khartoum are seen as a mere distraction by people in power while they continue to embezzle whatever is left in the public coffers.  An average South Sudanese man and woman is never expecting anything good to come from Khartoum for that being exactly why they chose to have their independent country in the first place.

South Sudan has ever survived long before the oil was discovered, and it will continue to survive long after the oil is gone. Thus far the people know.  Also the fact that the Arab north plans to use South Sudan’s dependence on Sudan’s pipelines and sea port for exporting the oil as a means  to bring the new country to its knees.

The Arab Jallaba intends to blackmail South Sudan into fighting against its fellow Africans of Darfur, Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile regions. Sudan’s policy of recruiting proxy fighters is as old as the country itself.  

And while they succeeded in the past to turn black African Muslims from the marginalised regions to fight a so-called Holy War against the South, South Sudan this time around as an Independent Black African country will and should never be seen to work against fellow Africans. It’s time the riverine Arabs fight their own wars.

As for the leadership in Juba, unfortunately they have chosen to make everything seem complicated and each time something goes wrong with this already known to be unreliable relationship with Khartoum, they play the role of the ignorant and often  pretend to have been taken by surprise. This childish way of handling state affairs is taking us nowhere.

SPLM must not underestimate the fact that it was stronger when it had Khartoum as a declared enemy, however in the present situation where it wants Khartoum, both as a partner and as an enemy, it isn’t going to working. Khartoum should also avoid behaving in similar manner. It is nothing, but hypocrisy!

As for the Sudan Revolutionary Forces (SRF), its relationship with the SPLM in South Sudan is only made to look complex because our leadership in Juba wants to have it both ways. However for most South Sudanese, it is gentlemen’s position and as they deeply and strongly believe in the cause of the people of the Nuba Mountains and the Blue Nile regions, they will not waste their time pretending to like Omer al Bashir and his NIF government in Khartoum. This makes their lives easier as they don’t have to deal with contradictions any longer.

Further still, South Sudan and its incumbent leaders are by choice making their positions look as if they are the weak side in the Khartoum/Juba political game. This shouldn’t be the case because when we convinced the entire world of our reasons to secede from Khartoum, they understood it, stood by us and recognised us the very moment we declared our independence. This is our strength on which we should be building all our internal and external policies.

Whether we physically support Sudan’s rebels of the SRF or only sympathize with them, it makes very little difference when it comes to evaluating Juba’s relationship with Khartoum. We quit the unity with Khartoum for a very strong reason. Otherwise people don’t just break up countries for no reason. 

The unfortunate fact that, two years into our independence and we are still struggling to deal with the same Jallaba – brings our whole claim of sovereignty to question! This needs redress and should be  sooner than later.

Technically Khartoum’s plan to shut down the oil still remains Khartoum’s internal issue the way president Salva Kiir and Dr. Marial Benjamin would have us believe since they haven’t yet received any official notification as a government and practically the oil is still flowing unstopped. Nonetheless this is not a thing to count on given our knowledge of the enemy.

Sudan’s al Bashir is already on record for threatening to close the oil if Juba fails to allow the Sudan Armed Forces [SAF] access into South Sudan territory to flush out the SRF rebels from behind; however it cannot just assume that South Sudan can be treated as if it were still Khartoum’s backyard.

Now again without an official notification to Juba, Khartoum’s minister of information has come out with yet another version of the announcement, changing president al Bashir immediate closure order to a grace period of sixty days in which they  expect Juba to avert the closure by complying with Khartoum.

While al Bashir’s latest hysterical behaviors can be traced down to his government’s failure to contain the country’s internal problems of multifaceted rebellions that are quickly growing both in strength and popularity all across the country and no longer confined to the far states of Darfur, Kordofan or the Blue Nile, the truth of the matter is that al Bashir is looking for a foreign enemy in order to rally his people behind his ailing regime.

The AU Peace and Security Council (PSC) will have to remind Khartoum of the communiqué signed between Sudan-South Sudan, which among others, stressed the need for the two countries to unconditional implement the 27 September 2012 agreements.  It is either this or the entire agreement goes off the window with or without a return an all-out war.

Author: Dr. Justin Ambago Ramba is the Secretary General of the United South Sudan Party (USSP). He can be reached at: [email protected].

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