By Dhieu Mathok Diing Wol
April 2, 2012 — The Heglig village locally known as Panthou of Panarou Dinka of Panrang county in Unity State has not been a part of South Kordofan as alleged by the Khartoum government.
The processes of annexing the area to the North have intensified recently during the Ingaz regime (The Salvation). It came to surfacing clearly for the first time in 1997 when Omer al Bashir the President of the Sudan registered an official visit to Heglig for the opening of the Oilfields.
The state government in Western Kordofan (before the state was abolished and annexed to South Kordofan after the signing of CPA in 2005) organized an opening ceremony of the oilfields and the visit of the president in the area to officially opening of the oilfields on the ground that Heglig is a part of the former Western Kordofan State. The state government led by Lit. Gen. Police Abdelrahaman Muktar ordered commissioner of the Peace province that includes Abyei, al Miaram and Muglid to transport Dinka Ngok citizens residing at Abyei and surrounding areas to the place of the ceremony at Heglig in order to welcome the president and participate in the occasion under cover that the area is a part of Abyei and hence perceived to be owned by the Dinka Ngok.
This strategy was not known to the state government in Unity state. The recently appointed Ambassador Micheal Mayiel Choul who was the Wali (Governor) of the state by then was not aware about this conspiracy. When the Governor of Unity State arrived at the place of the ceremony with his cabinet members, he found the place and the occasion were totally hijacked by the Western Kordofan government and the populace from Abyei area. They were welcomed as guests from the neighboring state. He was denied a speech in the opening ceremony, and Abdelrahaman Muktar was accorded the welcoming remarks as the host state and to welcome as well the president to deliver his speech and officially opened the project.
Upon receiving the copy of the programme, Mr. Micheal Mayiel reacted immediately and objected to the programme. The two governors exchanged insulting words in front of the president on the entitlement of who supposed to give the speech in this important occasion and the ownership of the area. The president stepped in and asked the two governors to present their speeches as the area belongs to all Sudanese people, according to his assertion. The oilfields were officially opened on the assumption that the area is a part of Western Kordofan NOT SOUTH KORDOFAN.
In 1999 when the first oil produced in the Sudan was shipped to international market at Bashair port in Port Sudan, again the chance was given to the oil-producing states; the two governors of the Western Kordofan and Unity State were asked to clamp into podium and present their speeches.
Subsequently, the conspiracy of annexing Heglig to the North becomes clearer during the annual presentation of the state government reports to the National Council of Ministers. The Council witnessed a serious debate over the issue between the Northerners and Southerners, who were members when the two governors of Unity State and Western Kordofan gave their reports about the situation in Heglig differently. The cabinet members from Southern Sudan who were attending the meeting took stance and supported the Governor Dr. Joseph Monytuil, the current MP and former Minister of Health and the Presidential Adviser.
The situation becomes complicated when the CPA was signed, and the Abyei Boundary Commission (ABC) was formed. The ABC was mandated to draw Abyei boundaries. The experts made the mistake by including Heglig and other areas in western part of the area to Abyei territories. Maybe the assumption was that since there was confusion surrounding status of Heglig it could be best solved within the ABC mechanism.
It was on this line the Court of Arbitration in The Hague came out and dismissed the claimed that Heglig is part of Abyei. The judges indicated what supposed to be the Abyei boundaries and left out what they believed not to be geographically part of that area.
The NCP intentionally misinterpreted the ruling, exploited it and claimed that the ruling was a justification of their assertion that the Court had confirmed their claim over Heglig, since the ruling was silenced about it, without knowing that Heglig was purposely left out as it has nothing to do with the ABC report. One can see this in the way how the NCP has been dealing with the ruling of the Court; appreciating part of the ruling and condemning part of it.
The information that the area was literally claimed to be part of Western Kodofan and NOT SOUTH KORDOFAN is very significant to the readers to see the degree of confusion and weak position on the side of the invaders of Heglig area. It is important because it will enable us relating geopolitics of the area to the historical events, because South Kordofan, which is bordering Panrang County was supposed to be the one claiming the ownership of Heglig from that very time and not Western Kordofan and the clashes on who supposed to speak in the opening ceremony of the oilfields were expected to be between Mr. Micheal Mayiel Choul the governor of Unity State and the late MagizubYusuf Babaker the governor of South Kordofan and NOT between Micheal and Muktar. However, because the conspiracy was designed to make the area, a part of the disputed Abyei, this scenario could take that form.
Dr. Dhieu Mathok is a former minister in the Sudan and author of Politics of Ethnic Discrimination in Sudan: A Justification for the Secession of South Sudan. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.