Bashir-Kiir summit fails to resolve Sudanese disputesBy MACHEL AMOS in Juba | Tuesday, January 8 2013 at 16:44
South Sudan has become more sceptical over the fate of stalled negotiations with neighbouring Sudan after a summit in Addis Ababa of the two countries' leaders failed to make any substantive headway.
African Union lead facilitator Thabo Mbeki said President Salva Kiir and his Sudanese counterpart Omar al-Bashir “agreed that they will act immediately” on the nine previous agreements.
The summit, however, did not resolve the impediments to the implementation of the cooperation deals.
Sudan wanted South Sudan to end alleged support to and disarm rebels in the warring South Kordofan and Blue Nile regions.
South Sudan insists it severed ties with the rebels after the referendum in January 2011 and that it can only contribute in finding a political solution to the conflict.
As the two countries wait for an AU matrix for the implementation of the nine cooperation agreements that cover oil flow and the status of the disputed Abyei region, South Sudan chief negotiator Mr Pagan Amum said his country should only concentrate on building her own pipeline, and not wait for the implementation of the oil flow deals.
“It is very clear that we cannot rely on Sudan in determining our future. We cannot depend on Sudan because they are not dependable,” Pagan said.
“Even if the oil flows, we are not sure whether Sudan will not come with new conditions and stop the flow of oil,” he added.
Independent experts said the summit achieved the minimum diplomatic milestone needed: the reassurance that the two neighbours wouldn’t go back to war.
“The fact that there was that handshake but no tangible breakthrough was something that was to be expected,” said Mr Peter Biar, the deputy director at Oxford-based International Growth Centre.
“This summit and whatever negotiations can only advance if, indeed, the two parties are genuinely committed to achieve an agreement. They (Sudan's ruling NCP) will only build expectations for things that will never occur,” he added.
Prof Alfred Sebit Lokuju, a lecturer at Juba University, also blamed Sudan, referring to the summit as a “side show” and saying Khartoum’s commitment to peaceful resolution of the outstanding issues is in doubt.
“What Khartoum wants is to give the impression to the international community - the the AU, the UN - that it is serious about the peace process and we know that Khartoum has been reneging,” he said.
“Bashir is now undergoing self-examination. I think he finds that the history of the Sudan is not going to look at him very kindly. So he wants to backtrack,” he added.
The South Sudan government says her commitment to the resolution of the dispute, unlike Sudan, is genuine.
An agreement with Sudan would allow South Sudan to export her oil, which accounted for 98 per cent of her revenues before it was shut down in January last year. South Sudan's economy badly needs to oil to flow again.
However, Sudan expects get more than $3 billion over three years from South Sudan’s oil if exports resume and also benefit from the large market base for her final goods in Juba.
South Sudan's Vice-President Riek Machar has that they want to look at colonial maps drawn by the British in an effort to defuse festering border rows.
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