Saturday, August 4, 2012

Sudan and South Sudan

Aljazeera asked me to comment on 3 August on the reported agreement between Sudan and South Sudan on the oil revenue sharing agreement.

If the agreement is confirmed by both sides, I suggested this is a major breakthrough in resolving differences between the two sides. There are, however, at least two other issues that are preventing a reconciliation between Khartoum and Juba.

Some 500,000 to 700,000 persons of southern origin reside in Sudan without legal protection. Khartoum does not allow dual citizenship for southern Sudanese and the government of South Sudan has not been able to provide these persons, some of whom have never lived in South Sudan, with legal papers. In the meantime, they are treated as foreigners and subject to potential abuse. There are also citizenship issues for southerners who have returned to South Sudan.

The security concerns revolve around Abyei, Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile regions. A referendum was to have taken place in Abyei in January 2011 to determine whether it remained in the north or joined the south. The referendum never took place. Abyei remains in dispute. The SPLM-North is active in Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan, both of which are considered part of Sudan. The SPLM-North is trying to topple the government in Khartoum, which has resulted in a harsh response from Khartoum's military forces. The problem is complicated in Southern Kordofan, where there is considerable oil.

Even if the agreement on oil revenue sharing is implemented,it will be difficult to reach agreement on these other issues.

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