February 1, 2012: It is becoming clear to the observers of politics in the Horn of Africa that Khartoum’s intransigence and disregard for common sense has gone overboard. With the recent decision to put into effect their ill-fated ill-designed and arrogantly construed law to confiscate the oil of the Republic of South Sudan, Khartoum has reached a new and dangerous stage in precedence setting. Any regional or continental powers that share the logic, whether that is the Mbeki’s Panel or any other body, should not be regarded as objective but biased mediator in the current post-independence negotiations between South Sudan and the NCP.
The process and the current alignment of the negotiation that is sponsored for the AU under Mbeki seems overtly unbalance, as if they are negotiating for Khartoum and have failed to justify all the proposals that they have brought forward to address the wide disparities between the demands of Khartoum and rights of the people of the Republic of South Sudan. The Mbeki’s Panel has rarely come up with any proposal that addressed the highly hostile and arrogant negotiating position of the NCP. The Panel has been keenly focused on depriving RSS from its resources with nonsensical proposals that does not even fall within a realistic negotiating platform. If the Panel is unbiased, why is it receiving advice from those of Alex De Waal, one of the so called Sudan Expert, who is notoriously known for his hatred for anything South Sudanese?
Alex De Waal is known throughout the history of the struggle to be anti-South Sudanese and have been an official spokesperson for the NCP in the international media/forums. Can we trust his objectivity? If as recent as last month, he has been quoted by Eric Reeves (Sudan Oil Crisis: Extortion and misappropriation are not ’negotiations’”) as saying that South Sudan’s decision to shut down oil production was ill advised, siding with Khartoum and at the same time indicating that he is an advisor to the Mbeki Panel? From the perspective of writer of this article, the current process is completely unfair to RSS and those entrusted with facilitating the negotiation process cannot be trusted.
I think a larger question that needs to be asked before the next round of negotiations that is slated to start February 10, 2012 should be: Can the Mbeki’s Panel provide RSS with objective and well-reasoned proposal that takes into consideration the goodwill of and the interest of South Sudanese? If such a proposal is not tabled prior to the negotiations, there should be no next round. The people of South Sudan are not willing to enter into another round of negotiation facing a highly biased mediator, armed with the so called experts that have been historically biased. If the current trend of producing proposals that favor NCP and disregards the historical and asymmetric relationships, in terms of development, political and psychological marginalization South Sudanese faced is not considered, South Sudan negotiating team must categorically renounce the process and come home for good. The people of South Sudan will continue to struggle, like it has done prior to the CPA and will surely survive till the current regime in the North is changed.
The courage which the leadership in South Sudan has shown in the last few weeks and the resounding support it is receiving from South Sudanese should be maintained, even in the face of intense international pressure from the regional powers that are seeking for South Sudan to capitulate. Based on the information that are currently before the mediator, NCP is continuing to violate their own gestures of goodwill, by continuing to steal oil without any reprimand from the IGAD or the mediator. How can the RSS continue to absorb this body blow, illegally, while the mediator is keeping silent?
There seems to be, from the news emerging now, that there are certain standards that are set for internationally isolated NCP and another of RSS and its people. I think president Kiir correctly decided not to sign the Cover Agreement, when he was ganged up on in Addis Ababa. The interest of the people of South Sudan, as the president indicated, is paramount to any side agreement that will surely bolster the position of the NCP and create limited avenues for South Sudan to pursue legal options on the stolen oil and other pertinent and outstanding issues such as border demarcation, Abyei and dividing the national assets.
These issues are enormous and cannot be negotiated hurriedly, such as proposed by the Mbeki’s Panel. As well, international pressure should not be used as the avenue to our own demise at the hands of NCP, who is only interested in a Zero Sum Game. Further, the NCP’s arrogant attitude towards common sense is generated by the unwillingness of international community, African Union, IGAD and the current mediator to invalidate their continued demands for the wealth and blood of South Sudanese. The current process is the last effort by South Sudanese to, once and for all, detached themselves from an entity and a regime that has lost a sense of humanity of its own people and that of the world around it.
As such, Zero Sum Game or not, South Sudan, as eloquently emphasized by President Kiir, is negotiating for its economic, territorial and psychological independence from the Sudan. And as the current situation continues along the path of owning our own decisions and living the consequences; we, as South Sudanese are proud and ready to shed more blood to uphold our true aspiration for complete sovereignty.