What Kiir & Bashir signed in Addis Ababa was no more than a Certificate of Attendance!

By: Justin Ambago Ramba, UK, JAN/12/2013, SSN;

It cannot be over-emphasized that many of us would want to see some progress in the marathon talks on normalization between the Republic of South Sudan and the Republic of Sudan. However the hopes are fast fading for the realities on the ground by all measures remain disappointing even to the most optimistic of people. The more the delegates meet the more the situation remains the same as all the hard facts constantly point in the opposite direction.

It can also be said that as time passes by, many people including the Sudanese themselves on both sides of the political divide are beginning to appreciate, some maybe for the first time that the now two separate entities that used to constitute what was the former united Sudan has indeed come a long way apart. Looking at even the most basic, but yet vital issues like peaceful coexistence and good neighborliness between the two countries, all have lately become elusive.

Now maybe is the time for the people of the two neighboring countries to begin adjusting to these changes in the relationship. This is quite an important step for if both governments as represented by the SPLM and the NCP are not yet ready for normalization then let it be.

Trying to force normalization down people’s throat the way the the so-called International community is doing is clearly not working for the people regardless of which of the two countries they belong to. And on the side of the two governments one wonders as to why is all this hypocrisy when down inside they know that they are still not ready but even not willing to let go of the past bitterness?

Reflecting on the so-called Cooperation Agreement between the two Sudans signed on the 27th of September 2012, one can see that not even a single iota in any of the already damaged relationships between Juba and Khartoum has seen any improvement. Just considering this, it is enough to convince that the empty talks about cooperation, Oil transportation and the rest of the dream that only exists on the signed paper are all but well planned PRs.

With time Khartoum must learn to survive without the Oil money from the wells in the south which are now under a separate government in Juba. South Sudan on its part regardless of the hardships and difficulties it faces, it must learn to adjust to the realities on the ground. This new country must learn to survive, exist but even excel in life without Khartoum if its population that overwhelmingly opted for secession is to see a meaning to their choice of independence.

Unfortunately the leaderships in both Sudan and South Sudan are not being sincere to themselves nor are they being so to their people. Juba is extending its hand of friendship towards Khartoum just in an attempt to pacify the discontent in its own backyard; otherwise who doesn’t know that nothing has changed in Khartoum? And even if there were any changes, they might have probably been for the worse.

Khartoum on the other hand equally understands that the traditional position taken by Juba towards the “Jallaba” expansionism have not changed and will not change. In spite of all this we continue to see and hear about delegations travelling from Khartoum to meet their counterparts in Juba and vice versa on a mission whose failed outcome have been predetermined. So who are those that the NCP and the SPLM are trying to fool?!!

Everything remains the same and even in Addis Ababa itself there has been minimal changes in the form of the new head of the African Union in the person of Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and the new Ethiopian head of state H.E. Hailemariam Desalgen, the new prime minister of the Federal Republic of Ethiopian who replaces the late Prime Minister Meles Zinawi. Thus otherwise by all standards it is still largely believed that the dynamics of politics in the corridors of the African Union’s H. Qs in Addis Ababa continue to remain practically the same.

Unsurprisingly President Thabo Mbeki, the Chair of the African Union High Level Implementation Panel (AUHLIP) is still the person handling the AU dossier on the Sudan even after the country has moved to become two countries. This veteran politician and diehard pan Africanist strongly believes in finding what he refers to as African solutions for African problems.

It’s worth noting here that it was this same Thabo Mbeki who worked hard with others in the AU to block the arrest of Omer al Bashir as requested by the International Criminal Court [ICC] over the genocide committed in Darfur by the Khartoum government.

According to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution 2046, Sudan and South Sudan should have already by now ironed out their differences or otherwise face a UN directed sanctions. To everyone’s dismay the 27th September 2012 Cooperation Agreement between Juba and Khartoum is far from being implemented.

And instead of reporting this back to the UNSC for the stipulated sanctions since the two sides have failed to achieve any tangible progress, instead Mbeki chose to give the two sides an extra time. How can Juba and Khartoum solve what none of them command the necessary political will that is so much needed to deal with these kind of matters.

You don’t need to wonder any further to read what is in the minds, for here lies the gist of the matter. Khartoum very much wants to avoid the UNSC and as long as it is aware that the leadership of the African Union is still with those who chose to protect Omer Bashir from the ICC and forsake the people of Darfur, and then they [Khartoum government] can lie assured that their conflicts with South Sudan for sure will never find its way to New York.

Thabo Mbeki and his team will do everything to mislead the UNSC into believing that the AU is doing its best to bring peace in the region. Yet the outcome is is everyone guess. People must know that Mbeki has limitations and as he quit the dossier of Darfur, he too can quit the South Sudan vs Sudan dossier any time from now once the going gets tough without necessarily realizing any peaceful settlement.

If it is anything to go by, then those who continue to believe in African solutions for African problems must be prepared to see an Abyei that remains in limbo forever and so will be the fate of the many disputed areas along the ill-defined borders between the two countries.

Not only that, but even the borders between South Sudan and Sudan will never be demarcated without interference from the big powers allowing Khartoum to freely drop its bombs on either side of this vague territory with complete impunity. That’s exactly what Khartoum wants!

Coming to the so-called 4-5th January 2013 Agreement signed in Addis Ababa between President Salva Kiir and his northern counterpart president Omer Bashir, those who read through this document will live to tell the truth about the document. Was it really an Agreement in any way? Obviously not!

Everything that appeared in the so-called 4-5th January Agreement are the same things that were already agreed upon in previous Agreements and remain unimplemented. So what is new? Was it that Kiir and Bashir re-agreed on what they had already agreed on but they failed to implement? And what purpose does that serve?

To cut a long story short, it is obvious that once again the two leaders have failed to agree on how to precede with the implementation of the 27th September Cooperation Agreement. This is it!

But what was the document that they signed which the hosts misleadingly called an Agreement? Those who don’t know the exact nature of that document signed at the end of the January 5, 2013 meeting don’t really have so much to worry about.

The real document signed by the leaders was nothing more than a countersigned attendance certificate awarded by the AUHIP to the presidents of South Sudan and Sudan for having taken the burden of travelling all the way from their respective countries and participate in a two day dialogue whose outcome was predestined to fail. No rocket science needed!

At any rate there is no need to rush to a conclusion. Let’s wait for the so-called matrix to be produced by Thabo Mbeki’s team and see how it is going to help in the unconditional implementation of all the sections of the re-agreed on ‘Agreement.’

For it’s only when the two sides fail to honour this “magical matrix,” then and maybe only then will the world come to understand that South Sudan and Sudan have already drifted too much apart that any normalization between the two countries at this particular moment in time in the absence of a radical political reforms and a genuine democratic transformation is at its best a wishful thinking.

Author: Dr. Justin Ambago Ramba, Secretary General – United South Sudan Party [USSP]. He can be reached at: justinramba@aol.co.uk or justinramba@doctors.net.uk

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