August 5, 2012 (JUBA) - South Sudan has accused the international community of siding with neighbouring Sudan in ongoing negotiations on various issues including the sharing of oil wealth and border demarcation.
- Pagan Amum (Getty)
South Sudan top negotiator and Secretary General of the country’s governing Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), Pagan Amum, at a press briefing on Saturday, shortly after his return from talks in Addis Ababa, in which he is representing his nation, said the “bias” of the international community was evident.
By way of demonstrating the international community’s imbalanced approach, Amum cited their silence in the wake of Khartoum’s confiscation, in late 2011, of South Sudan’s oil allegedly in lieu of unpaid transit fees which Juba decried as extortionate. This led in January to Juba’s halting of oil production.
"They never talked about it though they knew it was wrong. Sudanese government was practically stealing our oil but they continued to keep quiet,” said Amum.
He reserved particular criticism for the US and UK for criticising Juba’s halting of oil production, in reaction to Khartoum’s confiscation, rather than “asking Khartoum to pay back what it stole.”
He said pressure was exerted on South Sudan to reopen the pipeline because for the international community ”reopening was their interest” in light of the effect it had upon international markets.
He accused the international community of looking for a “quick fix” to the ongoing negotiations and not giving due consideration to other aspects of the debate such as border demarcation and the future of the disputed Abyei region.
“The Sudan Armed Forces continue to remain in Abyei as we speak and they do not doing anything,” alleged Amum.
He described the current favourable oil settlement was a result of South Sudan’s dogged negotiating.
“Despite these exorbitant demands by the Sudanese government and mounting pressure from the international community, your government responded with strength and resolve, and those responses have now paid off”, he said.
Khartoum originally demanded US$36 per barrel to transport landlocked South Sudanese oil to the coast at Port Sudan. The fee now stands at an average of US$9.48
According to apress release from the Government of South Sudan, Khartoum was demanding pipeline and terminal fees of US$25. Juba has agreed to pay US$8.40 to use the Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company terminal and US$6.50 for Petrodar’s. Khartoum was pitching for US$6 in transit fees and has settled for US$1.
Amum added that the oil deal on the pipeline will last for three and half years, after which the countries may renegotiate the rates, unless South Sudan has been successful in constructing an alternative pipeline passing through Kenya.
Memorandums of Understanding have been signed with neighbouring countries regarding pipeline construction. However, the viability to the project was brought into question when president Salva Kiir returned from Beijing in April empty handed, having failed to secure Chinese funding for a pipeline project.
The statement shows that a financial offer amounting to total of a US$3.028 billion will be made to Khartoum by Juba to compensate for the loss of oil revenue brought by secession of the South from Sudan last year.
“These fees will only last for 3 1/2 years. At that time, if South Sudan still wishes to transport its oil through Sudan the parties may negotiate lower rates, but the fees cannot go up”, Amum explained in a statement.
“This is equivalent to 1/3 of Sudan’s financial gap resulting from the loss of South Sudan’s oil and it is separate and apart from the Pipeline Transportation Fees. This is a one off payment. South Sudan will pay this over 3 1/2 years, earlier if it chooses, and then the assistance ends. The burden of Sudan’s financial difficulties will then rest solely on the Government of Sudan. This short-term assistance is part of a comprehensive package designed to ensure peace and security, respect for territorial integrity, and cooperation,” the statement reads in part.
US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton while in Juba on Friday urged both countries to reach an agreement on oil saying "a percentage of something is better than a percentage of nothing."
South Sudan seceded from Sudan last year after an independence vote as stipulated in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that ended more than two decades of civil war in 2005.
However, since South Sudan became an independent state, both sides continue to trade accusations of supporting one another’s rebel groups. There also arrangements of the CPA which remain unresolved, including border demarcation, and the statehood of the Abyei region. Progress has been made in the assignment of oil wealth with the signing of an agreement in Addis Ababa announced on Friday.
Press Conference of South Sudan Chief Negotiator Pagan Amum on S.Sudan and Sudan Progress of Negotions in Juba