Addis Ababa Negotiations; Returning to Square One
The negotiations between the delegations of Sudan and South Sudan have not still shown any progress or facilitated the signing of an agreement resolving issues between the countries; issues that have hindered the creation of neighborly relations after the secession of South Sudan.
South Sudan negotiators suggested a transportation fee of $9.10 per barrel for GNPOC oil, $7.26 per barrel for PETRODAR oil, and that's in addition to paying the debts, suggestions that were refused by the Sudanese side.
The Abyei Issue reemerged after South Sudan asked to transfer the issue to international arbitration; a thing that Sudan also turned down because it means going back to the starting point.
Juba also procrastinates by alleging the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) have bombarded their territories hoping to halt the negotiations process to buy more time; but the Khartoum categorically denied bombarding South Sudanese territories saying that SAF have bombarded the forces of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) which have launched their attack from South Sudanese territories; this places the security arrangements dossier exactly where it started and shows the lack of any common ground on which to solve the other dossiers.
Yet, a greater pressure is being applied by UNSC through Resolution 2046 which sets a specific period to reach agreements on the unresolved issues.
The End of the Period Does Not mean the End of Negotiations
Official spokesman of the Sudanese negotiating team Dr. Mutrif Sidig confirmed that the period set by the UNSC in Resolution 2046 according to the African roadmap –a period that runs out on August 2nd- does not mean the end of the road; it was rather intended as a defined time frame within which the two parties show their seriousness and persistence to reach agreements regarding the unresolved issues. He made it clear in his press conference that the two parties have worked hard to reach an agreement; especially the Sudanese side, and if it had been possible to reach an agreement before the specified date, then an agreement would have been reached; so the end of that period does not mean that the two parties have to stop the negotiations, it rather means that they have now shown enough seriousness and have put themselves on the right course of negotiations to negotiate a number of delicate issues such as halting hostilities, withdrawing forces from occupied territories, discontinuing support for rebel movements, and defining the disarmed areas.
Internationalizing the Abyei Issue
Dr. Mutrif Sidig said that the new proposals of South Sudan do not include the barest whisper of any new suggestions; all they were meant to do is to transform the Abyei referendum from being a local process mandated by the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) and the elections law to being a foreign issue dominated over by foreign mechanisms.
Dr. Mutrif said in a press conference he held in Addis Ababa: "The Abyei referendum is a local issue, but the suggestion made by Pagan means transferring it to be handled by the international community."
Dr. Mutrif explained that the negotiations had been moved in the past to Bahr Dar where the two parties had held direct meetings and focused on the negotiations topics by employing a comprehensive and strategic approach that covers all issues and deals with them in one package leaving the door open for an acceptable final outcome.
|Abdurrahim Mohamed Hussein|
But now the negotiations are moved back to Addis Ababa, where negotiations are in the presence of the African mediators instead of direct and the two parties have gone back to the starting point and the principal stances.
Dr. Mutrif affirmed that the last sessions concentrated on the security issues because they are of the greatest priority; not because of their mention in the UNSC 2046 resolution and the roadmap of the African Security and Peace Council last May, but also because the security issues represent the cornerstone on which all arrangements of the other issues and are built.
In the session to be held tonight in Addis Ababa; he hoped that after the parties sum up their suggestions and prior stances they will be able to formulate a joint stance regarding security issues in the presence of the African mediation committee presided by Thabo Mbeki, Pierre Boyoya, and Abu Bakr Abd Alsalam.
Attack of JEM
Dr. Mutrif pointed out that the negotiations were proceeding reasonably until a JEM force stationed about 80 kilometers inside South Sudanese borders decided to enter Sudan (Sudan has informed the African mediation of the force and its location), and when it did, the Sudanese Air Force dealt with them inside Sudanese borders.
The High Level Committee has issued a statement in which it indicated that the two parties have agreed to resume negotiations after the delegation of South Sudan, represented in its senior negotiator Pagan Amum, has lodged a complaint that alleges an attack has taken place by the Sudanese Air Force on South Sudanese territories.
Sudanese Army Denies Attacking South Sudanese Territories
Sudanese Minister of Defense Abd Alrahim Mohammed Hussein denied that the Sudanese Armed Forces have launched an attack on South Sudanese territories and delivered a verbal explanation of the incident:
"JEM has advanced into Sudan using a number of military cars and the Sudanese Air Forces dealt with them immediately after crossing the borders and entering Sudanese borders."
The African Union confirmed that it decided to form a mechanism to check the credibility of the of both stances, but it also welcomed the commitment of the two parties to continue negotiations through the African mediation and according to the provisions of the UNSC resolution 2046 and the roadmap of the African Security and Peace Council.
Dr. Mutrif said that the security issues that the two parties are going to handle in the next negotiations round according to the United Nations resolution and the African roadmap are the following ones: committing to stop hostilities, withdrawing forces from both sides, halting any support to the other country's rebel movements, and establishing disarmed areas. Dr. Mutrif presented an explanation in which he detailed the areas South Sudan has to withdraw from; namely the areas South Sudan has occupied post 2010. He also said the Sudanese delegation is ready to discuss all other issues according to the negotiations schedule.
South Sudanese Suggestions Include Nothing New
The Sudanese negotiating delegations played down the effect of the draft agreement presented by the head of the South Sudanese delegation Pagan Amum to solve the disputes around the unresolved issues: Oil, borders, and the disputed area of Abyei. The Sudanese delegation said these are previous stances put out together in one document that presents nothing new.
In a press conference in Addis Ababa, Amum presented a paper he called: "Cooperation and Fraternal Relations Agreement" saying that the agreement aims at reaching sustainable peace, stability, security, and wellbeing for the people of both countries. He said that should Khartoum accept it, it would not only refresh the economies of both countries, it will also out an end to hostilities forever in addition to activating commercial relations and exchanging benefits. He considered the agreement proposed to be fair and balanced. It comprises 11 agendas, the most prominent of which are: the commitment of South Sudan to halt all hostilities, unconditional acceptance of the Mbeki High Level Committee, immediate establishment of disarmed areas, activating all security mechanisms, and resorting to international arbitration to resolve all disputes around border issues peacefully and cordially, in addition to carrying out an international referendum under the supervision of the United Nations and African Union in Abyei before the end of this year. He said that Denka Ngok and those who lived continuously in the areas for more than three years after January 9th 2005 must take part in the referendum.
The paper included a suggestion for the protection of each country's citizens in the other country, and guaranteeing the right of cattle herders and nomad Arabs in roaming in search of water and fodder in their traditional places.
According to the agreement South Sudan announced its readiness to back any negotiations between the government and SPLM-N in the two states to reach a comprehensive peace agreement.
Also according to the agreement, Economically, South Sudan says it will immediately start pumping oil through the pipelines of Sudan in return for what they described as fair transportation fees, and it says they are ready to cancel $500 Million that was previously confiscated by Sudan –according to South Sudanese officials- and the South Sudan goes further to say it is ready to pay the amount of $8.213 Billion to Sudan in the form of economic assistance (representing 75% of the financial gap created by the secession of South Sudan, a gap estimated at $10.4 Billion).
But Dr. Mutrif Sidig considered what was presented in form of a new document by South Sudan represents nothing new, it's rather a compilation of old stances out together, Sidig confirmed that there are problematic features in the map presented by the mediation, but he also confirmed that Sudan has accepted the map with a percentage of 95%, pointing out that including the 14 Mile Area is the real crisis.
Regarding the oil transportation fees presented by South Sudan, Mutrif said that South Sudan wants to be dealt with as if it is a part of Sudan, but what Sudan presents is that it is going to treat South Sudan according to a new method that allows Sudan better profits that correspond to its economic demands and requirements.
By Ibrahim Al-Jack, 27/07/2012