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January 2013 - Posts

Media Legislation: A Litmus Test for Democracy In South Sudan

By Beny Gideon Mab

January 20, 2013 - Long overdue media legislation in the Republic of South Sudan has for the first time in eight years seen light of the day in what I may described as a serious policy and legislative developmental process. The completion of Media Authority Bill 2012, Right of Access to Information Bill, 2012 and Broadcasting Corporation Bill, 2012 respectively was a great job well done.

The Bills are already securitised by the line institutions and other relevant stakeholders and in particular private media houses, advocates and civil society organisations. The public hearing organised by the Specialised Committee of Information in the National Legislative Assembly laid a foundation for teamwork and the heated debate shown the importance of media legislation in South Sudan. As a result, the Bills are now before the Honorable August House for deliberation and of course a gesture of goodwill that the beneficiaries are now waiting the birth of media legislation in South Sudan.

The public hearing forum was so important not only for the media legislation but should be adopted a practice in all subsequent legislation because it is the only platform that brought all views and witnessed the legal form and content of the Bill in order to satisfy all users before it is tabled before the National Legislative Assembly for deliberation and would-be enactment into law. If the National Assembly passes these media law quickly, it will mark a cornerstone for young nation in its promise of constitutional governance. However, the action of the government is expected to be within the ambit of the law and above all practice of democratic principles which started with fundamental freedoms. The absence of media legislation may discredit this promise and urge the government to turn over a new leaf

Article 1 (5) of the Transitional Constitution of South Sudan 2011, says “South Sudan is founded on justice, equality, respect for human dignity and advancement of human rights and fundamental freedoms. In other word, such freedoms are mandatory and must be realised by the implementation of Article 24 (1) of the same constitution which states “every citizen shall have the right to the freedom of expression, reception and dissemination of information, publication, and access to the press without prejudice to public order, safety or morals as prescribed by law”. And finally, “all levels of government shall guarantee the freedom of the press and other media as shall be regulated by law in a democratic society”.

The three Media Bills hanging in the balance are the media laws which are missing in our society. It is very unfortunate that there is legal vacuum on media industry in South Sudan and therefore a serious violation of the constitution and the law. Yet, it is not too bad that we now receive the news of media laws though at late hours. I hope the relevant stakeholders will not regret but rather take courage and urge the National Assembly to pass media laws. This has always been the notion for instance a tailor wears shattered clothes despite being the maker. The line institutions and private media houses despite their rich experiences and expertise knowledge fails since 2005 to date even to pass a single legislation on media, leave alone lack of unifying body to follow up issue of media and journalists concerns.

In a three day hotly debate on the said Bills from 1st November to 3 November 2012 ; the failures clearly came up as a result of conflicting interest over ownership of the law between the government and private media industry. The latter wanted to own and independently run the media industry but the former strongly resisted and wanted to be the regulator. Indeed, we ended up somewhere with comprises from both institutions and the actual referee shall be seen when the law comes into force.

Last but not the least, the protection of freedoms of expression, association and assembly remain very weak due to lack of legal framework and low enforceability of existing national legislation such as Political Parties Act 2011; the Human Right Act 2009 and the Transitional Constitution of South Sudan, 2011 to mention a few. However, the Press freedoms amongst other rights are more specifically fundamental because it is the very right that triggered violations from the government worldwide. It embodies right to information, right of access to existing information, and finally the right to enjoy public broadcasting services, which are covered now under the media Bills, yet to be seen on unknown date.

According to the United Nations Human Rights Council Report on South Sudan in its Twenty-first session dated 29 August, 2012, paragraph 27 of the report, the Council said “that Journalists and human rights defenders in South Sudan face intimidation and arrest in the conduct of their activities. State security forces have been reported to subject journalists to harassment, arbitrary arrest and detention for publishing stories critical of the Government”. In reality, the report is not out of blue since there is no smoke without fire. The UN report is supported with some topical examples in South sudan. The cold blood murder of late Diing Chan Awuol pen-named Isaiah Abraham; the kidnapping of Advocate Ring Bulebuk and Civil Society Activist Deng Athuai Monywiir, all cases in Juba dated 5 December, 2012, 22 December 2012 and 4 July ,2012 respectively confirmed the UN Human right report. It is very sad news and the government of South Sudan at all levels must clean its face quickly to prove the contrary in the field of human rights and specially allow the press freedom. The said incidences may not be directly known or sponsored by the government as the case may be, but lack of absolute security provision is accountable to the government.

Finally, we are all aware that without media laws in place and strong civil society that advocate for human rights and monitoring of human rights violations, yet there will be no any progress. Many civil society organisations tried their best to do the job but impacted by lack of training, expertise knowledge and resources to contribute to the process of democratisation and the advancement and protection of human rights as enabling component of media industry. Therefore, the Non-governmental organisations be the local, national and international bodies and the Government of South Sudan need to support civil society in order to deliver competent public services without fear or intimidation.

Beny Gideon Mabor is an independent opinion writer on governance and human rights. He lives in South Sudan and can be reached at benygmabor@gmail.com

Bashir’s Sudan and Iran: an Alliance of Terror

By David L. Phillips and Ahmed Hussain Adam

January 11, 2013 - Israeli warplanes attacked Sudan’s military-industrial complex at al-Yarmouk on October 23, 2012. While the raid set-back Sudan’s weapons production – including delivery by Sudan of Iranian Fajr-5 missiles to Hamas in Gaza — additional measures are needed to prevent Sudan’s export of deadly weapons to Iranian proxies in the region. Interdiction would have the added benefit of ratcheting-up pressure on Omar al-Bashir’s criminal regime.

Sudan and Iran are ideologically united. The leadership of both countries is enamored with authoritarianism, bound by their hatred of the United States and its allies. Bashir is inspired by Iran’s Islamic Revolution. Not only has Bashir adopted Iran’s brutal tactics suppressing political opponents and domestic dissent. He has also franchised Iran’s support for extremism and exporting his Sudanese Islamic revolution.

Both countries also derive practical benefits from their cooperation. In exchange for military and economic assistance, Bashir allows Sudan to be used as a launch point for Iranian military and intelligence operations. With Syria nearing collapse, Iran is diversifying its portfolio of partners in terror.

Cooperation between Sudan and Iran dates back more than two decades. After Bashir seized power in 1989, Iran provided weapons to help him consolidate power. It also provided foreign currency to keep his regime afloat. In 1992, Iran’s President Hashemi Rafsanjani visited Sudan and signed military cooperation protocols on intelligence sharing, arms transfers, and military training. Iran expanded security and military cooperation with a new round of protocols in March 2007.

A new agreement the following year allowed IRGC to deepen its presence, giving it control of military training camps in Sudan. The IRGC currently runs special military training camps in the Kasala State in Eastern Sudan. In parallel, the Iranian Export Development Fund has invested in economic and infrastructure projects in the provinces of Kasala, Gadarif and Red Sea. Though these infrastructure projects were touted as support for the local population, they were actually intended to facilitate the transfer of weapons to Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and other extremists in the region.

In 2012, Iran established a military and intelligence base on the Red Sea in Sudan. In collusion with Iran, Sudan is taking steps to tighten control of shipping lanes for the Red Sea. In the closing months of December 2012, Iranian warships – Kharg and Admiral Naghdi — docked in Port Sudan. It was the second time in 5 weeks that a pair of Iranian warships came into port.

After the independence of South Sudan in July 2011, and the establishment of Juba’s diplomatic relation with Israel, the Sudan-Iran terror alliance intensified activities targeting pro-Western governments in the region. Sudan is as an intelligence center monitoring U.S. and Israeli engagement in East Africa, especially Ethiopia, Kenya and South Sudan.

Iran’s support has never benefited the Sudanese people. To the contrary: its military assistance provides Bashir with deadly weapons that he uses against his own citizens. Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited Sudan in 2011, providing drones that were used in South Kurdofan.

Bashir’s destructive adventures risk embroiling Sudan in conflict between regional and international powers. Not only is the Sudan-Iran terror axis a concern to Israel and United States. Resulting radicalization and instability is also a risk to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States.

The U.S. should monitor the movement of missiles from Sudan to the Egyptian border. A drone air strike interdicting the transport of missiles would be a shot across the bow of the Sudan-Iran terror axis. It would also set a precedent of diplomacy backed by force, emboldening Bashir’s opponents and impacting the situation in Darfur, South Kurdofan and Blue Nile. Denying Iran a strategic hub in Sudan has benefits for Sudan, Africa, and beyond.

David L. Phillips is Director of the Program on Peace-building and Rights at Columbia University and Ahmed Hussain Adam is a Visiting Scholar.

New Dawn for the Sudanese people

By Mahmoud A. Suleiman

This article comes on the backdrop of the signing of the New Dawn Charter by all the Sudanese Opposition, both peaceful civil and the Armed Movements. One says this while feeling submerged in glee and pleasure. After twenty-odd years, Thank Almight God y, Finally loomed in the tunnel the light of the new dawn, the timely coming of the New Dawn Charter, which was signed by the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) members formed of Chairman of the Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement/ Army (SPLA/M –North, Mr. Malik Agar WIRE, Chairman of the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLA-AW), Abdel Wahid Mohamed Ahmed al-Nur, Chairman of the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLA-MM), Moinni Arko Minawi, Chairman of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), Dr. Gibril Ibrahim Mohamed, Naseeruddin Hadi Mahdi of the National Umma Party (NUP), al-Toum al-Sheikh Haju of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), Head of Delegation of the National Consensus Forces (NCF), Siddiq Youssef Ibrahim Nur, Salah al-Manna of the National Umma Party (NUP), Tarig Mahjoub of the Popular Congress Party (PCP), Dr. Abul Hassan Farah of the Unionist Movement (UM), the president of the New Forces Movement (HAG) Hala Mohamed Abdelhalim Mr. / Mubarak al-Fadil al-Mahdi, Youth Movements that included : Grifna Movement, Change Now Movement; Women’s Groups that included: Najla Said Ahmed Sheikh – of the “ No for the Oppression of women” Initiative, Civil society Organisations; Abdelmoniem al-Jack representing the Sudanese Group for Democracy First, Shams al-Ameen Daw al-Beit as a representative of National Figures; Parties & entities in the National Consensus Forces including their Chairman Farouk Abu Issa in addition to the Sudanese Communist Party, National Unionist, Sudanese Congress Party, Sudanese National Alliance, Sudanese National Party, Nationalist Baath Party, Sudanese Baath Party, Arab Socialist Baath Party original, Arab Baath Socialist Party, Nasserite Unionist Party, Sudanese Front for Change, Alliance of women politicians, Trade Union Solidarity, the Preparatory Committee for the dismissed from Work, the Executive Committee for the Dismissed from Work and Movement for Change in Sudan. It has been reported that Nafie Ali Nafie, Assistant of the Sudanese President described the signatories of the political and military opposition to the Charter of the New Dawn to topple the regime of al-Bashir as "traitors", and announced his government’s readiness in the year 2013 to resolve the armed movements and the opposition.

The Charter of the New Dawn included, inter alia, the decisions to overthrow and uproot the regime of the National Congress Party (NCP) of its bilgy roots and replacing it with a broad-based Transitional Government to accommodate the entire political spectrum, for a four-year term. Of the priorities of this Democratic Government is restoring what has been destroyed by the never-ending National Islamic Front (NIF) waged civil wars in Darfur, South Kordofan (Nuba Mountains), Blue Nile, Eastern Sudan Beja region and the establishment of democratic institutions and basic services of education/ health/ water etc and achieve justice for the victims of the war of the displaced and refugees, reform the economy and return the stolen money from the public purse by the elements of Omer Hassan Ahmed al-Bashir’s genocidal regime.

And according to the Charter of the New Dawn an interim constitution which governs the country will establish a transitional government made up of the forces of change with the participation of civil forces, youth and women and Independent national figures, in addition to the armed movements that fall under the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF). The signatories to the Charter agreed on the immediate cessation of wars taking place in Darfur, South Kordofan and the Blue Nile and lifting the state of emergency along with the disolution of the notorious Popular Defence Forces (PDF) and other militias created by the regime and disarm immediately and along with the removal of all the remaining malignant effects left by the regime of the (NCP).

The Charter calls for the rebuilding of the army and the police force in order to achieve its national and professional goals, and limiting the work of the National Intelligence and security services (NISS) in its field, along with dissolution of the national ntelligence and security apparatus currently under the (NCP) regime and to take quick action and the necessary steps to build a replacement device which will be based on the protection of the security of the homeland and the citizens through the collection of information and classifying and to be placed in front of competent authorities in the external security unit. Homeland Security is the task of police jurisdiction.

The experiences of people who have struggled to achieve their goals tell that Revolutions do not break out because of injustice and poverty alone; in fact, what really drives people to come out in revolution, is their confidence that there is an honest credible body working to achieve their ambitions and dreams for which they revolted and sacrificed lives, and that their efforts and sacrifices would not go in vain into the unknown. That political body or group into the confidence of the masses is considered the cornerstone for the success of revolutions. Therefore, in the case of the Sudanese people, The categories under the umbrella of the New Dawn represent the Trustee of the Sudanese revolution for the Overthrow of the corrupt despotic regime of the (NCP) led by the criminal fugitive from the international justice, Omer Hassan Ahmed al-Bashir.

Political observers and analysts agreed that the Chater of the New Dawn is as a quantum leap for the Sudanese in general and for the people in the marginalised regions in particular. They considered that the political component of the entities represented all segments of the Sudanese people as well as political parties and armed movements; the step that was long awaited by every citizen. Obviously, it I would be absurd and not in the best interest of the people to flare-up a Revolution Without leadership. And now that such a leadership in place, the masses of the Sudanese people has set out their organizational objectives with success. The presence of the SPLM/A – North and the Darfur armed movements within this organization (the New Dawn), will be a key factor to ensure stopping wars on their own soon after the fall and the removal of the hateful regime of the (NCP).

While the signatories to the Charter of the New Dawn call on the International Community to support the Will of the Sudanese people, some of them seem biased in favour of the (NCP) regime and do not budge from that position. This attitude stems from the positions of some Western Political circles that tended to strike and play on the wrong chord and saying that Overthrowing the ruling (NCP) by force will lead to anarchy; accordingly, they call for allowing the regime to reform itself. The message of the people of Sudan, at this particular juncture, is that the regime led by the dictator Omer al-Bashir is too deformed to be reformed. Therefore, it is incumbent upon the International Community to either support the Will of the masses in Sudan or at least remain neutral ‘standing on the fence between the Will of the Sudanese public and that of the fundamentalist genocidal regime of the (NCP).

Dr. Mahmoud A. Suleiman is the Deputy Chairman of the General Congress for Justice and Equality Movement (JEM). He can be reached at mahmoud.abaker@gmail.com

Sudanese leaders thrash out (another) peace deal

Two presidents sign an agreement that no one believes will succeed – but both have bigger problems than each other.

Simon Allison - Tuesday 8 January

In Addis Ababa this weekend, the presidents of Sudan and South Sudan – two countries which 18 months ago were just one – thrashed out yet another agreement to solve the never-ending border and security issues between them. President Omar al-Bashir, with an international arrest warrant hanging over his head, and President Salva Kiir, with a trademark black cowboy hat over his, gritted their teeth and smiled for the cameras as they shook on a deal that neither is likely to be able to enforce.

Let's start with Bashir. The Sudanese leader, who has clung onto power through thick and thin since 1989, is desperately trying to stave off the most serious threats to his rule to date. "Facing armed resistance from restive ethnic groups in all corners of the country, as well as unrest on city streets from a population resentful of the state's repressive tendencies, the regime has shown signs of losing its grip on power," wrote Time magazine in a recent article, which wondered how much longer Bashir had left. "The regime's problems are exacerbated by delays in the flow of oil from South Sudan, sinking the Sudanese pound to an all-time low. As economic woes deepen, many observers suspect that Bashir ... will face an internal power struggle that he may not survive."

Bashir's regime is built on two overlapping and mutually supporting pillars: a heavy investment in the military and a strong appeal to conservative Islamists. Elements within both of these groups are now turning against him, upset by the loss of the south (and its lucrative oilfields), a failure to reform his ruling National Congress party and a recent string of military setbacks, including an audacious Israeli raid on an arms factory in Khartoum and the temporary but embarrassing loss to rebels of Sudan's largest remaining oilfield in Heglig. This is more than mere grumbling: in November, Bashir averted an attempted coup, arresting 13 people for their involvement. Amongst these 13 was former security chief Salah Gosh, once one of the most powerful men in the country. Bashir can no longer trust his friends.

Meanwhile, his enemies are plotting too. As Bashir was signing the latest agreement, he will have been painfully aware that in neighbouring Uganda, the two most powerful opposition groupings in his country were making their own deal – to work together to topple Bashir and his government. Meeting in Kampala were representatives from the Sudan Revolutionary Front (an alliance of all Sudan's major armed opposition groups led by an offshoot of South Sudan's ruling party) and the National Consensus Forces (a coalition of opposition political parties).

Their talks were breathtaking in their audacity, according to a report in the Sudan Tribune. For the opposition, Bashir's fall is a matter of when, not if, and they are already planning for the post-Bashir era in some detail. There will be a four-year transition period, a strict separation between mosque and state, and a constitution that guarantees democracy. How exactly this will come about remains hazy, especially as the National Consensus Forces are avowedly against violence; but come about it will, the opposition believes, and they are more united than ever before.

Bashir's counterpart at the negotiating table was President Salva Kiir. The two men know each other well because they've been at this for years, but Kiir won't be too worried by Bashir's troubles – he's got enough of his own to deal with. South Sudan remains very much a work in progress, and the president is not nearly as powerful as he'd like to be. It's very much doubtful whether Kiir has the authority to implement any of the agreements made in Addis Ababa, especially the ones which involve some kind of compromise. Not that it's necessarily his fault.

"Even the toughest of presidents would be struggling right now in South Sudan," wrote Harriet Martin for Al Jazeera. "It has no money to pay its civil servants, its police and most importantly - in view of where there is most discontent - its army."

It is this army that Kiir needs onside in order to guarantee the most important provision of the new deal reached between Sudan and South Sudan this weekend: the establishment of a 'buffer zone' between the two countries, a demilitarised zone which should calm tensions and prevent any accidental conflict triggers (if this sounds familiar, it is: almost the exact same provision was agreed in talks last year, albeit in less detail). But not everyone in the army is keen, and Kiir will have a tough time persuading them to withdraw.

And this, let's not forget, is a president who can't even keep his own state media in check: bizarrely, two senior South Sudanese state broadcast journalists were arrested this week for failing to report on one of the president's speeches (it's hard to blame them for missing the speech: Kiir is the exact opposite of a charismatic speaker, his flamboyant cowboy hat not enough to mask his staid public persona).

So, while it's always a good idea for Sudan and South Sudan to talk through their problems rather than fight them out, we have to wonder just how effective these current negotiations are. Currently, both leaders are dangerously close to the title of lame duck president, with limited authority to implement the terms of any deal. Both are fighting for their own political lives first and the good of their countries second. Chances are, it's only once these internal battles are sorted out one way or the other that there will be any real progress in solving the issues between the two countries.

Ahead of the meeting - Bashir, Kiir, Hailemariam and Mbeki

ADDIS ABABA, Jan 5 – The rival presidents of Sudan and South Sudan met for face-to-face talks Saturday to push forward stalled security, oil and border deals, and discuss the fate of the contested Abyei region.
 
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and his Southern counterpart Salva Kiir met alongside African Union mediator Thabo Mbeki while tensions remain high after the latest in a string of accusations that Khartoum had bombed South Sudan.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, who is hosting the talks, also attended the first meeting between the former civil war foes for over three months, when they signed a raft of key deals that have yet to be implemented.
 
Ahead of the meeting — taking place in Ethiopia’s presidential palace — Bashir, Kiir, Hailemariam and Mbeki were seen sitting together talking and laughing.
 
The talks are expected to carry into the afternoon, although while the leaders are set to leave later on Saturday, diplomats say talks could continue Sunday if an agreement is not reached.
 
Delegations from Juba and Khartoum were also present, including defence ministers from both countries.
 
Bashir and Kiir arrived in Ethiopia on Friday, one day after South Sudan accused Khartoum of waging fresh attacks along their disputed border, but they first met separately only with mediators.
 
The summit of the leaders, whose nations are both struggling with economic austerity cuts following Juba’s halting of oil exports through Sudan’s pipelines, is the latest of repeated rounds of AU-mediated talks.
 
Along with a demilitarised border buffer zone, the September pacts allowed for a resumption of South Sudanese oil exports through Sudan. They also said border points would be reopened for general trade.
 
Also on the agenda is the contested Abyei region, a long-time flashpoint on the volatile border, which has proved to be one of the most contentious sticking points between the two nations.
 
Sudanese troops withdrew from the territory in May after a year-long occupation that forced over 100,000 people to flee towards South Sudan.
 
The Lebanon-sized area is now controlled by United Nations peacekeepers from Ethiopia.
 
South Sudan separated from Sudan in July 2011 under a peace agreement that ended a 1983-2005 civil war, but key issues including the demarcation of border zones that cut through oil-rich regions remain unresolved.

Salva-Bashir Summit: What is expected?

By Luka Biong Deng

January 4, 2013 - Presidents Salva and Bashir will meet on 4th January 2013 in a summit that is widely expected to be decisive and final in giving the last chance for the two countries. This summit came as result of the last meeting of the AU Peace and Security Council that calls for such a summit as the last chance for the two countries to resolve amicably all the pending issues. The diplomatic shuttling by the Ethiopian Prime Minister between Khartoum and Juba has hastened the convening of the summit earlier before the next meeting of the AU Council at the level of heads of state.

Most people of the two countries, particularly the people of the South, have lost confidence in these summits as similar summits raised only expectations but did id not yield tangible results. In particular, the last summit between Salva and Bashir in which nine (9) agreements were signed raised hope but with pain in the South that their oil will start flowing for export through Sudan. However, such hopes were dashed by Khartoum when it refused to allow the oil of the South to be exported through its territory by putting unreasonable conditions. Also Khartoum started provoking the people of the South with air and ground attacks of innocent civilians inside the territories of the South along the border.

The real question is what can be expected from such summit with Khartoum consistently dishonouring agreement after agreement. One is not even sure of how much patience remains with Salva to continue negotiating with Bashir. Also this summit is been convened with Khartoum amassing and moving troops with heavy weapons along the border areas with the South. The recent air and ground attacks of the civilians in Raja County in Western Bahr el Ghazal state that resulted in killing of more than 32 civilians clearly showed the intention of Khartoum to put more pressure on Juba before the summit. It is a common belief in the South that the recent increase in the level of insecurity in the South is largely instigated by Khartoum with the aim of weakening the leadership of the South.

The summit is being convened when the two countries are experiencing serious economic and political challenges. In particular, the economy of Sudan is at the brink of collapse as shown by its 2013 budget. Despite the political rhetoric that the Sudanese economy is recovering with the oil production increasing to about 140,000 barrels per day and with increase in gold export, the Sudanese pound is severely suffering and may end up like Zairian currency during the rule of former president Mobuto Sese Seko. Although some circles in Khartoum seem to gamble to strangle the South by not allowing the export of its oil through Sudan, the experience of the last few months has proven to be suicidal.

Also Sudan is experiencing a real social unrest with increased demonstrations that may threaten the survival of the regime in Khartoum if the current economic hardship continues for the next few months. The Sudan Revolutionary Front seems to be gaining militarily. It is also succeeding politically by winning other traditional and democratic political forces to agree on a regime change through peaceful means. Diplomatically, Sudan is losing the Arab world with its clear choice to associate itself with Iran. Sudan may soon lose the support from most African countries in the next meeting of the AU Council if it continues to reject the African solutions on Abyei and border.

The South on the other hand, despite its successful austerity measures, is facing serious economic difficulties as its foreign reserves seem to be dwindling rapidly. Despite the successful austerity measures, increased level of agriculture production and signing of serious refinery construction agreements, the economic situation in the South may deteriorate further in the next few months. There is also increase social unrest and feeling of uneasiness among the citizens in the South over increased insecurity in most parts of the South, unjustifiable and cowardly assassination of Isaiah Abraham, and the unfolding pains of austerity measures. Diplomatically, the South has performed well in showing its seriousness in respecting the nine agreements.

Presidents Salva and Bashir will go to the summit and aware that the business will not be as usual as people of the two countries, particularly in Sudan, and international community have run out of patience. The summit is the last chance for the two leaders to agree on the way forward for implementing the nine agreements and on Abyei and border. President Bashir is fully aware that failure to agree on these pending issues in the next summit will force the heads of state of the AU Peace and Security Council not only to endorse the AUHIP proposals but it will forward these proposals to the UN Security Council for endorsement, a path that Khartoum wants to avoid.

Given the political and diplomatic consequences if the two heads of state failed to agree in the next summit, one expects that Bashir will be more reasonable to abandon his unjustifiable conditions of disengagement between the South and SPLM-North and the alleged harbouring of Sudanese rebels by the South so that the nine agreements to be fully implemented. In fact Sudan is so desperate for the oil revenue from the South.

On the five disputed border areas, there is almost agreement between the parties to resort to the international arbitration after listening to the non-binding opinion from the AU border experts. The summit can easily resolve this issue and proceed to discuss the mechanisms for resolving the claimed border areas. While Sudan is asking for the claimed areas to be handled after finalization of arbitration over the disputed areas, Juba sees it appropriate to handle the disputed and claimed border areas simultaneously. One would expect this issue of the claimed border not to be a stumbling block as the summit could easily agree on a process of finalizing the identification of the claimed areas with facilitation of the AU border experts before these areas are taken for the international arbitration.

On Abyei area, the AUHIP Proposal on the final status of Abyei will be the basis of discussion in the next summit. President Bashir will try to push for further partitioning of Abyei area. One is not sure of how much patience remains with President Salva to renew negotiation over Abyei. However as the summit is a forum for negotiation, President Salva is expected to convince President Bashir to accept the AUHIP Abyei Proposal as a fair deal. It will be for the best interest of President Bashir to accept the AUHIP Abyei Proposal and to raise concerns, if necessary, that would constitute the basis for negotiating with President Salva.

One may expect that President Bashir not to be serious on unjustifiable option of further partitioning of Abyei but he may accept the AUHIP Abyei Proposal but with some reservations. These concerns are likely to be over eligibility of voters, the chair of Abyei Referendum Commission, timing of the referendum, the Abyei oil revenue sharing and political representation of Arab nomads in the administration of Abyei. President Salva is unlikely to renegotiate on the fundamental issues of eligibility, chair of the Commission and timing of the referendum but he may entertain new ideas on oil revenue sharing and political representation of Arab nomads in Abyei administration. If discussion over Abyei could focus on these two issues, then the summit could easily adopt the AUHIP Abyei Proposal with minor changes.

The worst scenario is that if President Bashir continues to be intransigent on the aforementioned issues, then this summit will be the last summit between Presidents Salva and Bashir. The next meeting of the AU Council will be decisive as it will either endorse what the summit agreed upon or to endorse the AUHIP proposals on the pending issues as final and binding African solutions. There will be a window of opportunity for Sudan to be given the last chance to accept these proposals before they are forwarded to the UN Security Council for endorsement and enforcement.

As the path of confrontation between the two countries or with the international community is suicidal and unwinnable, one expects the summit to reach agreement on the pending issues. President Bashir is fully aware that any further confrontation with the South and international community will not only shorten his life in power with misery but will leave a bad legacy that will haunt his family for generations to come. I am confident that the wisdom, imagination and the interests of the people will prevail in this summit so that the people of the two countries can enjoy again peace and stability.

Luka Biong Deng is a senior member of South Sudan’s ruling Sudan People Liberation Movement (SPLM) and the Co-Chair of the Abyei Joint Oversight Committee. He can be contacted at lukabiong@kushworld.org. This article is also published by the New Nation Newspaper - New York, US