Observers claimed that both Sudan and South Sudan should restrain from aggression and return to diplomatic negotiation. History has it that the two former foes had been at civil war for 39 years out of 56 years of independence, with only 16 years of intermittent peace, before South Sudan eventually decide to secede into a New Republic July 9th 2011. Eight months of independence in South Sudan tension is mounting again for full scale war, this time war against an independent nation on undemarcated border between the two sovereign states.
Many people would ask simple question about why the border was not demarcated before independence declaration? Well the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that took three years to negotiate did provide protocols to address border issues, the status of Southern Blue Nile, Abyei and Nuba Mountains among others. Those protocols were not implemented as specified in the agreement. Who is to blame? Moreover, border demarcation is one of the many issues to be negotiated and resolve between the Sudan and South Sudan.
After South Sudan was declared independent last July 2011, Soldiers who participated in the Sudan civil war from Southern Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains, found themselves in the Sudan, with a one-time their enemy. The CPA protocols to address their grievances and concerns were ignored by Khartoum and they remain without choice but to continue with their struggle for Freedom, Equality and Justice, after many years of marginalization and representation. They went back into the bush to continue with arms struggle, and fighting along the border between Sudan and South Sudan, warranted Sudan to believe that the rebels were getting support from South Sudan government, who was once their friends. On the one hand, Sudan has recruited opposition from South Sudan and armed them to continue their struggle to topple the newly independent republic of South Sudan. Practically both sovereign states resort in helping each other’s rebels, instead of negotiating peaceful agreement. Khartoum responded to such activities by bombing South Sudan towns on pretext that it was pursuing its rebels. Several civilian were killed in a series of Bombs dropped by Khartoum.
Efforts by South Sudan to United Nation Security Council and international community to pressure Sudan to stop its bombing campaign in a sovereign country went to deaf ears, or without any reaction or solution. The African Union High Panel sponsoring mediation in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to resolve the post independent issues, has been boycotted several times by Sudan, and just few days before South Sudan captured the town of Panthou (Heglig), Sudan walked out of the negotiation, and three hours later, they started bombing the towns in the republic of South Sudan by planes, believed by the South Sudan army to be launching their operation from their bases in Panthou (Heglig), the disputed territory, since there is no border, it is hard to conclude that Panthou (Heglig) is Sudan territory. But what we know is that the 1956 border between South and Northern Sudan lies 30 km North of Panthou or Aliiny now known with its fake name Heglig that was given after the oil discovery 1980s.
Sudan has refused to agree on South Sudan oil transit fee, the international oil transit fee is $ 0.4 per barrel, south Sudan agreed to pay Sudan $ 1.00, but Sudan refused, demanding $ 32.00 per barrel. This is not negotiation by any logic. Secondly, Sudan has refused to sign the Abyei Border Commission (ABC) report, making the demarcation of the border impossible. Thirdly Sudan has rejected the court ruling on the Abyei territory. Fourthly Sudan has refused the Abyei referendum process to take place as stipulated in the CPA, living it in limbo, and its people are still languishing hopelessly. Fifthly, the nationality of people caught up in each other’s boundaries has not been resolved, the example are many, but to mention few for the readers. Sudan is not interested in peace and President Al Bashirshould not have an illusion that he will obtain peace through military means, if Sudan government did not militarily defeat the guerrillas during civil war for 39 years. South Sudan has no illusion either to win peace through military aggression, except in defense of its territory.
Border dispute is just one of the many unresolved cases; however, international community condemnation of South Sudan act of self-defense is not fair and therefore will not bring peace. The peace will not come if all the issues mentioned are not resolve, through negotiation, between Sudan and South Sudan. The end must justify the means, South Sudan has lost trust in Sudan and therefore, international community should intervene to stop the escalation of war by providing United Nations troops between the two countries in order to create room for confidence building prior to returning back to negotiation table. Otherwise, without the help of international community to pressure both countries to the negotiation table, there will be no peace between Sudan and South Sudan. How would you propose possible peace plan for Sudan and South Sudan?