February 29, 2012 (KHARTOUM) – The United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday launched an unusual attack on Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir accusing him of working to undermine the implementation of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).
- US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testifies on before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Capitol Hill, Washington on Wednesday Feb. 29, 2012 (AP)
The US was the main broker in the negotiations between Khartoum and South Sudanese rebels that led to the signing of the CPA which gave southerners the right of self determination. The referendum was held more than a year ago and resulted in an overwhelming vote in favour of secession from the Arab-Muslim north.
South Sudan became an independent state officially in July 2011 but there are several contentious post referendum issues that have yet to be sorted out between Khartoum and Juba including oil, borders, citizenship, national debt, Abyei, water and international agreements.
The African Union High Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) led by former South African president Thabo Mbeki has been mediating between the two sides for more than two years but has achieved little success.
Most recently, landlocked South Sudan decided to suspend its oil production in retaliation to Khartoum’s confiscation of the crude pumped into pipelines that run through the north’s territory to Port Sudan. Sudan defended its move by saying that this is a form of payment for what it claims are outstanding invoices.
"We also believe there has to be an agreement to finish out the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and try to finalise all of the border issues, the oil issues, and that’s going to be very difficult, too," the US diplomat told the House of Representative’s Foreign Affairs Committee .
"We support the process that the African Union is running in Addis Ababa but it doesn’t seem to be making a lot of progress yet," she said.
Clinton pointed a finger at Bashir and suggested that he is becoming an obstacle in the quest for an agreement.
"The people of South Sudan voted for independence and ever since, despite Bashir going to [South Sudan president] Salva Kiir’s inauguration, there has been a steady effort to undermine this new state," she told US lawmakers.
"I think that what we’ve got with Bashir is a very determined effort to try to undo the results of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement," Clinton added.
She suggested that the US is prepared to take measures against Bashir personally but did not elaborate.
"We will certainly look at trying to up the pressure on Khartoum and on Bashir personally," Clinton said.
Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in connection with war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide allegedly committed in Sudan’s western region of Darfur since the conflict broke out between the central government in Khartoum and insurgents belonging mostly to African tribes.
But despite that, the Sudanese leader received strong backing from the African Union (AU) and to a lesser extent from the Arab and Islamic regional blocs against the warrants.