Negotiations Between Sudan and South Sudan Break Down
Negotiations between Sudan and South Sudan broke down on Tuesday as the two parts could not bring themselves to agree on the wording of an agreement over citizenship issues. The negotiations, which ended in a shouting match on Tuesday, are expected to be resumed on Wednesday, and it is expected that the two countries to reach an agreement, recommended by the United Nations Security Council, which is trying to avoid a war between the two Sudanese states, which separated in January 2011, but have a lot of disputes over the oil reserves.
The British ambassador to the UNSC, Mark Lyall Grant, who holds the rotating presidency of the Council, expressed concern over reports about troop movements and air strikes along the border. He urged the two sides to respect the non-aggression pact they signed a month ago, and to put an end to all kind of violence along the common border. He also demanded that neither country take any action that could undermine the other.
The two countries began a scheduled ten-day talks session in Addis Abeba, Ethiopia, as part of the effort made by the African Union to broker an agreement between them. The most important matters in debate revolve around the sharing of profits from oil production and shipment, the marking of the common border and citizenship problems the independence of the South Sudan raised, when it was proclaimed in July.
The dispute arose when South Sudan, which has got the most of the oil fields, refused to pay the transit fees imposed by Sudan. The South Sudanese oil cannot be sold without the Sudanese pipelines that carry it to the Sudanese ports, where it is shipped to the beneficiaries.
The conflict between the two countries determined the authorities in Juba to shut down the oil production, in a move that it sure to hurt both economies.
The status of Abyei region, also rich in oil, is still in dispute, after a referendum similar to the one in South Sudan failed to be organized in this region. The status of the southerners living in the north is also a matter in debate.
Sudan and South Sudan were locked in civil war for 21 years with a million people dead. They decided to go separate ways in 2011, when a referendum held in January had a record turnout and certified that there are two Sudanese countries in the world.
South Sudan became the newest country in the world on July 7, when it officially proclaimed independence, and was acknowledged as an independent state by the UN, becoming the UN member # 193.
At the same time, it became the poorest country in the world, with a pile of social and political problems to deal with, and with the scars of the civil war still bleeding. However, as the independence ceremony has shown when leaders and representatives from all over the world attended, the international community was happy to lend a helping hand and make sure that the reserves of oil are put to good use.
In order for that to happen, though, the country must split profit with the Sudanese republic, which has poor oil resources but has all the pipelines all the way to the ports that can take the oil to the furthest place on Earth.
Sudan’s president, Omar Bashir, who is subject to an international arrest warrant for the alleged crimes committed in the breakaway province of Darfur, showed an unexpected cooperation with the South Sudanese authorities, assuring that the separation process goes without any incident.
Analysts believed that Bashir was trying to win the West over to his side and have the arrest warrant revoked, there were even talks at the time that it may happen. However, they warned that getting independence is the easy part for South Sudan, which is why Bashir was so relaxed.
As soon as the separation was completed, the problems began for the South, as Sudan made its first hostile move, by downgrading the value of the national currency, which affected the South, which was still using it. The downgrade was made without any warning of Juba authorities.
Then, Sudan demanded fees that the South Sudanese catalogued as rip-off, and Sudan started delaying or stopping the shipments of oil altogether. Finally, the African Union intervened and with the help of the UNSC the two states had a few rounds of negotiations to establish a modus vivendi that would allow them both to live and prosper.
South Sudan is a country with a Christian population which speaks English, while Sudan is an Arabic-speaking Muslim country. Soon after the separation, Omar Bashir promised that the country would become an Islamic one, with shariah as source of the legislation and the Arabic as official language.
Bashir also promised to broker peace treaties with the breakaway Darfur and the Nuba mountains population. Last summer, accusations were made at the United Nations that the satellites had spotted what appeared to be mass graves in the Nuba Mountains.
Reports came that Sudan was executing military operations against the Nuba population, which had sided with the south during the civil war. The case has not been made yet by the UNSC.11