By James Okuk
“In fact, the life of a private citizen would be preferable to that of a king at the expense of the ruin of so many human beings” – Machiavelli.
October 11, 2012 — Tricky Agreements usually avoid clarity and specificity on critical issues of disagreements and conflicts. That is why the silent deals behind inks on white papers often push ahead and leave many windows for the future circumstances to determine the final outcomes. This is exactly what has happened with the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) between the SPLM/A on behalf of Southern Sudan/Liberated Areas and the National Congress Party (NCP) on behalf of Northern Sudan/Government of the Republic of the Sudan.
The CPA addressed the details of how the two parts of the Sudan (Southern and Northern) could stay together peacefully, sharing wealth, power and security for an interim period of six years (2005 – 2011). The conduct of the referendum for the people of Southern Sudan (including Abyei referendum) was supposed to mark the end of the interim period. But nothing much was said about the aftermath of the referendum result, especially if it ended up in secession of Southern Sudan. Each side was left to seek what it thought could suit its utilitarian interest. This is the departing point where the conflict between the two split countries (Sudan and South Sudan) emanated.
On one hand, NCP Khartoum is used to economic wars and sanctions. It also knows the tactics of managing the tough times and dusty political weathers. Its leaders could turn as many stones as possible to find alternatives when the usual is lost. They don’t easily resort to utopia and fantasy when it comes to economy. Thus, they have failed to fall under many upheavals that came across them except separation of South Sudan.
On the other hand, SPLM Juba is still novice on management of state affairs, especially the economic aspect of it. Its leaders thought that economic war is like gathering morale for holding a rifle (aka AK47) and destroying the enemy in the shortest time possible. They forgot that the wild life in the rebellious bushes is totally different from the civilized urban life in the peaceful states. Yes, the SPLM/A commanders had managed to run a pseudo-government in the bushes of Southern Sudan without monthly salaries and other privileges of comfort, simply, because life in the bushes and jungles does not depend on money but solely the will to survive. Nonetheless, they failed to run the Republic of South Sudan on the same bush model because living in towns and cities necessitates periodic circulation of money within an atmosphere of viable economy.
There is no any experience known worldwide where a country can survive without money and other urban facilities. The SPLM Juba failed to establish such impossible precedent. Hence, it has to come back to its proper senses and strike deals of rescue from Khartoum with the help of African Union and the United Nations. As a result, Juba had to lick the unnecessary vomits it has sprayed all over. Its inept SPLM leaders had no choice but to rush to Addis Ababa in order to sign the nine deals so as to avert economic grave and political collapse. Now things have opened up with a breath of relief from the disaster that was about to happen. Praise the Lord, Alleluia!
I hope the child-like SPLM leaders in Juba have leant their lessons that economic war is not a joke nor can it be won on mere propaganda that lack the sense of truth and care for the common good of the people. It is a war that can disturb super powers to the core, leave alone pretentious dwarf economy like the one still germinating in the nascent Republic of South Sudan. Also I hope they have been advised that becoming a foolish donor of multiple oil pipelines constructions while this resource is non-renewable is being unmindful of appalling living standards of masses in South Sudan. Why not build a diversifying rail way that can last even if oil dries up in future?
As no country is left alone to behave like an island on the face of the United Nations, the African Union and other regional organizations, the governments of the Sudan and South Sudan were urged and pressured to negotiate out their post-secession disputes and strike some necessary bilateral deals. The two governments were even offered high level mediators to help them overcome their contentions. The chief mediator happened to be one of the former prominent presidents of a country that has wealth of experience in conflict and its resolution. Not only this but also he is well-experienced and respected internationally, particularly, in dealing with incompetent but cunning carless presidents of some poor African countries. He knows how to play into their nerves and pin them down conscientiously on what military dictators fear most; regime change/collapse.
That is the reason I am unhesitant to say that Mr. Thabo Mbeki of South Africa must be a silent tough man who knows how to tame troublemakers and train them to behave responsibly as statesmen. You can see how Mr. Pagan Amum has changed greatly after the agreed deals between Juba and Khartoum have been signed in Addis Ababa. From being a radical he came back as a moderate orator who has learnt to be a diplomat in his encounter with the opponents and the media. Perhaps, if he maintains this momentum he could gain confidence from some of us for future presidency.
Someone who is not interested in international history of conflicts and their comparative resolutions would tend to think that there was something new in Addis Ababa deals. Specifically, the SPLM novices in countries affairs might have got shocked to learn that history of inter-states conflict of interests did not and does not begin or end with them after achieving the dream of South Sudanese for a viable independent state.
Also most of those deals are what normally the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Republic of South Sudan would have been drafting/pursuing instead of the unnecessarily usurpation by the SPLM Secretariat without any sufficient justification in meddling into government affairs.
Put in order of importance, the bilateral deals between the Sudan and South Sudan could lexically be arranged with comments as follows:
1 - The Agreement concerning Oil and related Economic Matters: It is the center and driver of all the agreed deals. It was forced into the throats of the SPLM and NCP by the International Community. It is known that hungry people could be angry revolutionaries and both Juba and Khartoum have already started sensing this. Thus, they were seriously obliged to get the needed petrodollars into their pockets first and then continue politicking later at leisure on other contentious issues. Suffering of the common people and begging while sleeping on a valuable resource is regard as foolish and intolerable by the fatigued world donors. Also fantasy and emotional drunkard decisions do not help bring genuine solutions to real problems. Hence, Juba was asked, first and foremost, to open-up the shut-down flow of South Sudanese crude oil to international markets via Sudanese ports. The United States of America and China don’t joke or lie when it comes to economy. It is either “do or die!” Now President Salva Kiir has learnt to take orders and heed to commands from world’s superpowers. He had tried to be tough headed as a show off for no dignified end. A Good Cowboy Now!
2 - The Agreement on Security Arrangements: Not very different from that between Chad and the Sudan. The aim is to control rebels’ activities and discourage them from pursuing regime change in each other’s capitals. By this deal, Juba would help Khartoum control the activities of Sudanese rebels in Blue Nile, Kordofan and Darfur and discourage them from pursuing the change of NCP regime. On the other hand, Khartoum would neutralize the activities of South Sudanese rebels and discourage them from pursuing change of SPLM regime by barrels of guns. Looked at critically, this deal is nothing much really but survival strategy for the ruling parties in the two-countries-with-one-system. With this deal, President Salva Kiir can think of sleeping in peace and remove all the coup preventing road blocks around J-One and near his residence in Juba. He can also remove the fear of travelling freely to different parts of South Sudan, especially to Upper Nile State for graduation ceremony next time. On the other side of the lake, the deal will relieve President Al-Bashir from escaping to Kanana again in fear of direct attack from rebels inside Khartoum. But it will not save his neck from chains of the ICC arrest warrant though Ocampo is retired back to Argentine.
3 - The Agreement on Trade and Trade-Related Issues: it similar to the ones done amongst many countries. It is about supply and demand with profitable but fair price to each trader and customer crossing to the divide-line. This deal will minimize the exploitation done on South Sudanese markets by the traders of East African countries and their local partners. Now they will face tough competition and diversification of commodities sources with low prices, especially the fuel and cement. Northern part of South Sudan and Sudanese traders will be the core beneficiaries of this deal.
4 - The Framework Agreement on the Status of Nationals of the Other State: it is not very different (in principle) from that between Egypt and the Sudan, though its full implementation has never materialized up to the day. However, the four freedoms in the deal could work in terms of free entry visas to each other’s countries at any time and in any legalized place. It is a great relief to those who own properties and have business interests or investments across each the divide.
5 - The Agreement on a Framework for Cooperation on Central Banking Issues: it is similar to the ones done amongst many countries. It is about controlling inflation and value of each other’s currencies. This deal is necessary for a viable trade between the two countries and easy facilitation of monetary transactions. Now a South Sudanese could give a bold head of Dr. John Garang to a Sudanese without any offense.
6 - The Agreement on Certain Economic Matters: Division of Assets and Liabilities, Arrears and Claims and Joint Approach to the International Community: It is a common normal practice worldwide between countries that have split peacefully. But this deal is of a great concern because it might involve international law suits, in case.
7 - The Framework Agreement to Facilitate Payment of Post-Service Benefits: It is a right, pursuable internationally whether there is agreement or not.
8 - The Agreement on Border Issues (including demarcation): Not very different from that between the USA and Canada (officially known as “the International Boundary” and the longest international border in the world). While Canada and the United States both boast their world’s longest undefended border title today, final placement of the border has not been without difficulties. But most concerns there have been about what goes across the border instead of where the border actually is located. The Sudan-South Sudan boundary is the longest in Africa and it will take time for its disputes to get finalized. Why then stop the rest of state life running because of some areas of the unmarked borders? A game of Tom and Jerry could be played by Juba and Khartoum on the unmarked and un-demarcated areas while life continues in the rest of the settled areas. After all the SPLM and NCP leaders are like Tom and Jerry behaviorally.
9 - The Cooperation Agreement: It re-affirmed the commitment of developing political will between Khartoum and Juba that will enable creation of good neighborhood of two viable states. This is the normal duty of diplomats in their diplomacy. That is why the Government of the Sudan rightly appointed one of its top notch Ambassadors to come to Juba for this purpose though South Sudan sent a lowly experienced Ambassador to Khartoum out of nepotism and misunderstanding of the purpose of international relations. I hope President Salva Kiir could correct this mistake as soon as possible.
The NINE DEALS did not consider Abyei Area as part of the Republic of South Sudan yet until its status is finally decided either by a referendum as agreed in Naivasha as stipulated in the CPA or by another new method agreed by Juba and Khartoum. Although the gentlemen of Abyei got disappointed to see the agreed deals working without the fate of Abyei and Nine Ngok Dinka being known yet, this time they failed to insert Abyei problem as conditionality among the negotiated issues of South Sudan.
The mediator’s prudence had it that the Abyei Area issue be tackled separately on a different agenda as it has proven since Addis Ababa Agreement in 1972 to be a complicating factor in good relations between the South and North of the Sudan. Though many of the Abyei people would prefer to remain in the Sudan, I would love to see them joining their real blood brothers in South Sudan in near future.
As for the former SPLM/A comrades, Malik Aggar, Yasir Arman and Abdelaziz Hilu, the time has come for Salva Kiir and SPLM in South Sudan to forget them despite the pledge at the independence declaration in Juba on 9th July 2011 that they shall not be forgotten. They need to get it well that the umbilical cord between them and South Sudan has been cut in Addis Ababa deals and there is no turning back. They have been left in the cold to carry their own crosses and survive on their own the wrath of genocidal regime in Khartoum. South Sudan can only afford to host them as unarmed refugees without any dignity of struggle against marginalization left in them.
This is bitter but the heroes of Ingassina and Nuba Mountains must be regretting the day they fought a treacherous war in the same trenches with the Mother SPLM/A of South Sudan. They are like intimate brothers who ended up as strangers. May be those who are after Popular Consultations in these two areas will win, though this has become an internal affair of the Sudan where Juba has no much to say but advice only.
* The author is a member of the opposition SPLM-DC