Home | News    Wednesday 19 September 2007

North, South Sudan border of 1956 is incorrect - expert

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By James Gatdet Dak

September 18, 2007 (JUBA) – An international expert said that the current border between northern and southern Sudan is not correct because it gives some parts from the south to the north.

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Douglas H. Johnson

A member of the Abyei Boundary Commission, Douglas H. Johnson, indicated that the present perceived North-South boundary of 1956 is not correct. The original boundary lines between North and South Sudan moved up to the North while the current boundaries, which were redefined by the Northern governments after independence in 1956 have moved Southwards significantly.

The British expert made these statements in a public lecture on the North-South boundary was organized on Saturday, 15th September 2007, by the Ministry of Presidential Affairs in the Government of Southern Sudan in collaboration with the Southern Sudan Legislative Assembly in Juba.

Douglas Johnson, who is a great scholar, has lived and worked in the Sudan for more than forty (40) years. He published several books about the Sudan likes: Sudan (British Documents on the End of Empire) in 1998, the Root Causes of Sudans Civil Wars in 2003, and History and prophecy among the Nuer of the southern Sudan in 1980.

Douglas was requested by the Presidency of the Government of Southern Sudan to do some research on the North-South boundaries and to present it to the Government. He did very extensive research dating back to maps and descriptions of boundaries of the old provinces during the European colonial period, particularly the British era in the Sudan.

The public lecture was attended by Ministers and Advisors of the Government of Southern Sudan, members of the Southern Sudan Legislative Assembly, representatives of various political parties, SPLA senior military officers, senior civil servants, and representatives of international organizations in Juba.

Engineer Riek Dogol, an expert and member of the North-South Boundary Commission, also made a presentation on their work in the Commission formed by the Presidency of the Government of National Unity.

He stated that their work is in phase II, and that is collection of relevant information.

Engineer Riek informed the participants that the team has collected more than one hundred different maps from around the world which relate to the North-South boundary line since colonial period. He said the team is also conducting interviews with local elders and chiefs around the border line to get some more information in this regard.

He said the team is given a period up to February 2008 to complete its work of demarcation of the boundary. He blamed the delay of the work on the delay of release of funds by the Government of National Unity in order to carry out the necessary and important technical activities.

Further Riek explained that upon the completion of the Commission’s work, the team will present their findings to the Presidency of the Government of National Unity for approval as stipulated in the CPA.

The National Congress Party rejects the conclusions of Abyei Boundary Commission on the findings of Abyei boundaries since 2005 even before the death of the late First Vice President despite the CPA stipulation that the decision of the international experts shall be final and binding.

The North-South boundary has great bearing on the implementation of most protocols in the CPA. Without a demarcated North-South boundary, the redeployment of Sudan Armed Forces across the border to the North will not be correct and successful. The share of oil revenue in the South will not be correct also because the North claims that some oil wells fall on the Northern side of the boundary and therefore not for share as stipulated in the CPA. Establishment of political constituencies along the border line will fail, which will then affect the coming general elections.

The 2011 referendum itself will be delayed because the people of Southern Sudan shall not vote on self-determination without knowing the boundaries of their entity or would-be independent nation.

(ST)

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  • 19 September 2007 09:43, by Samson Liberty

    In addition to the inernational boundary expert findings as a truth to the North-South boundary,the indigenous of both sides along borders knows their traditional boundary lines.All about ups and downs had been a colonial policy indicating concentrations of natural resources,economic and political powers.The masters who took it from the colonial rule,just grap this powers as the abundant natural resources all falls towards the South and the North just a bare endless deserts.Fellowcountrymen the concept here is not only soil/land demarcation but rather oil and others are the problem.Suppose that massive oil could be discovered in the extreme South in Juba still they will say the oil of Juba falls in the North.

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    • 21 September 2007 16:01, by Jima

      The current commisions findings seem to be genuine, moreover based on historical facts. The tools they employed are right including the human element on both sides. It is methodologically sound therefore very impatial and popular to disrespect. In short it must be accepted by the presidency. The people on both sides of the boarder and also those who are under it, all can also confirm to the realities of the claims that the north south boarder is indeed further north than south of current boarders. This said, unless some stated evidences are intentionally removed, even examination of artefacts found under the grounds of those contested areas can reconfirm the findings (claims). The very old maps collected from all over the world stating geographical coordinates are indeed already very most valuable and the "gold standard" confirming the testimonies of those indegenous African Sudanese (southerners) who also have claimed traditional ownership of the land. Those maps are also important in confirming or disputing similar claims by the northers on the issue of ownership of the boarder land.
      Moreover, indigenous and historical ownership are basic, no matter local arrangements. The biases of "contaminating evidences" like influence of the ever denied slave trade and intermarriage through renaming some places especially during the first Anya-nya war as well as also during the recently concluded 21 years north south war has to be noted. During both wars, leaders in the north and notherners had freely exercised the policy of remaning some places, rivers and established symbols of faith where they thought it later suited/benefited them in asserting their presence and power over the land and people. The names by southeners,and of southerners minus those related to slave trade, actually extend far beyond and more north as far as Kosti. Remember that: some of the gum arabic producing areas including the dura fertile lands of upper Nile were also annexed to the north as recent as the aftermath of the 1972 peace agreement. The annexastion of those areas was not official and to date, they got officialized illegally. Those local arrangements therefore do not need to be officialised by any government in the north unless it wants to confirm that all illegal acts done by some notherners in the south get parliamentary policy and legal blessing in the north. We trust the boundary commision represents a neutral yet academic evidence based exercise which will if followed cement trust not only between the parties in coalition government but also that of the people on both parts of the boundary divide in event of what appears an eminent separation of the south from the north.

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