SUDAN WATCH: News round-up: North, South Sudan Launch Post-Referendum Negotiations - Mbeki's Statement

Saturday, July 10, 2010

News round-up: North, South Sudan Launch Post-Referendum Negotiations - Mbeki's Statement

HISTORIC NEWS. Today (Saturday, 10 July) Northern and southern Sudanese leaders began talks on a strategy to ensure a smooth transition should a referendum next year result in the war-scarred south gaining its independence.

Talks between Sudan's President Omar Al-Bashir's National Congress Party (NCP) and the former southern rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) were focused on planning a peaceful transition for January's referendum.

The SPLM, which controls the semi-autonomous government in south Sudan, is campaigning for secession while Bashir's NCP has pledged to work for unity but promised a fair referendum.

They told reporters at the launch they would consider four options suggested by an African Union panel led by former South African president Thabo Mbeki.

In one option "we considered the possibility of the creation of two independent countries which negotiate a framework of cooperation, which extends to the establishment of shared governance institutions in a confederal arrangement," said Mbeki, who spoke at the launch in Khartoum.

Another option was for two separate countries with shared "soft borders that permit freedom of movement for both people and goods," said Mbeki.

The other two options, he added, were for total separation - - with citizens needing visas to cross the border -- and for continued north-south unity, if southerners chose that option in the referendum.

"These (the four options) will be part of the issues to be discussed by both parties," Sayed el-Khatib, a senior member of north Sudan's National Congress Party, (NCP) told reporters.

The parties said they would spend the next months working out how they would share out oil and other assets, as well as the burden of Sudan's national debt, after the vote.

Discussions are due to continue July 19.

Note that the negotiations between the NCP and the SPLM reviewed several strategic issues, including the security arrangements, the most complicated of all.

Sudan now has three armies -- the Sudanese Armed Forces of the north, the Sudan People Liberation Army of south Sudan and the Joint Integrated Units which are composed of elements from north and south Sudan armies.

The Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), inked between north and south Sudan in 2005, stipulates that the joint integrated units should constitute a nucleus of post referendum army of Sudan and accept the result of the referendum, otherwise they would be dissolved.

Other issues touched upon during the session included the file of oil revenues sharing, in which the two sides should agree on the distribution of the oil revenues, presently and in the future, the Nile water issue, and issues concerning assets of the state and the currency and the banking system.

Note that the contested oil-rich region of Abyei will hold a separate referendum to decide whether it wants to join the north or the south of Sudan. The Abyei referendum is expected to be conducted simultaneously with south Sudan referendum, slated for January 2011.

Sudan produces 500,000 barrels of oil per day and has reserves estimated at six billion barrels, most of it on the border between north and south.

SOURCE: Reports from Reuters, AFP, Xinhua News Agency, reprinted below.

Ali Osman Taha and Thabo Mbeki

Photo: Sudan's Second Vice President Ali Osman Taha (L) and former South African president Thabo Mbeki (Source: AFP report, 10 July 2010: Sudan ruling parties seek post-referendum 'roadmap')

Pagan Amum

Photo: The secretary general of the former rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), Pagan Amum. (Source: AFP report, 10 July 2010: Sudan ruling parties seek post-referendum 'roadmap')

Nafie Ali Nafie greets Pagan Amum

Photo: Nafie Ali Nafie (R) greets Pagan Amum. (Source: AFP report, 10 July 2010: Sudan ruling parties seek post-referendum 'roadmap')

Rally in Juba, southern Sudan

Photo: Supporters of south Sudan independence rally in Juba. (Source: AFP report, 10 July 2010: Sudan ruling parties seek post-referendum 'roadmap')

Sudan to mull north-south confederation after vote
From Reuters by Andrew Heavens (Editing by Matthew Jones) - Saturday, 10 July 2010; 1:08pm GMT:
(KHARTOUM) - Northern and southern Sudanese leaders on Saturday said they would consider forming a confederation or a common market if southerners chose to declare independence in an upcoming referendum.

Citizens of the country's oil-producing south are six months away from a vote on whether to stay part of Sudan or split away as an independent state -- a plebiscite promised in a 2005 accord that ended decades of north-south civil war.

Leaders from the country's dominant northern and southern parties on Saturday started formal negotiations on how they would divide oil revenues and other issues after the referendum.

They told reporters at the launch they would consider four options suggested by an African Union panel led by former South African president Thabo Mbeki.

In one option "we considered the possibility of the creation of two independent countries which negotiate a framework of cooperation, which extends to the establishment of shared governance institutions in a confederal arrangement," said Mbeki, who spoke at the launch in Khartoum.

Another option was for two separate countries with shared "soft borders that permit freedom of movement for both people and goods," said Mbeki.

The other two options, he added, were for total separation - - with citizens needing visas to cross the border -- and for continued north-south unity, if southerners chose that option in the referendum.

"These (the four options) will be part of the issues to be discussed by both parties," Sayed el-Khatib, a senior member of north Sudan's National Congress Party, (NCP) told reporters.

Pagan Amum, the secretary general of the south's dominant Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), said the referendum would allow the south to "reset" its troubled relationship with the north, whether southerners chose unity or separation.

"If the choice is separation, then we will be ensuring that there will be good cooperation between the two independent states. It could take the form of a confederation. It could take the form of a common market," he said.

The parties said they would spend the next months working out how they would share out oil and other assets, as well as the burden of Sudan's national debt, after the vote.

Also on the agenda was the citizenship of their populations -- campaign group Refugees International last month warned southerners in the north and northerners in the south might be left stateless and vulnerable to attacks after a split.

Many commentators say southerners, embittered by decades of civil war, are likely to vote for separation in the referendum, due in January 2011. Sudan's president Omar Hassan al-Bashir, the head of the NCP, has promised to campaign for unity.

Most of Sudan's proven oil reserves are south of the border. Khartoum currently gets half the revenues from southern oil, under the terms of the 2005 deal. The south would have to reach some sort of accommodation with Khartoum, even after a split, as the only pipelines run through the north to the Red Sea.
Sudan ruling parties seek post-referendum 'roadmap'
From AFP by Guillaume Lavallee – Saturday, 10 July 2010:
(KHARTOUM) - North and south Sudan leaders began talks on Saturday on a strategy to ensure a smooth transition should a referendum next year result in the war-scarred south gaining its independence.

Talks between President Omar el-Beshir's National Congress Party (NCP) and the former southern rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) were focused on planning a peaceful transition for January's referendum.

"Today we are together to launch negotiations of post-referendum arrangements to clearly establish a vision that after the referendum life shall continue," said SPLM negotiator Pagan Amum.

"These negotiations are an opportunity for us to strengthen our relations because in the past they have been bitter," he said at a formal ceremony to launch the talks. Discussions are due to continue July 19.

The SPLM, which controls the semi-autonomous government in south Sudan, is campaigning for secession while Beshir's NCP has pledged to work for unity but promised a fair referendum.

Amum said both sides wanted to ensure a "smooth transition" for the referendum which was part of a 2005 peace deal that ended a two-decade civil war between the Muslim north and Christian and animist south.

Failing to conduct the vote according to the terms of the 2005 treaty would "run the risk of slipping our country back in conflict, a scenario none of us want to see our country returning to," he warned.

The NCP said it wanted to ensure the crucial vote would not be followed by conflict in a country and region prone to war.

"We are hoping that the negotiation will lead to sustainable peace not in Sudan only but over all the region," NCP negotiator Idriss Mohammed Abdel Qadir said at the ceremony.

The NCP and SPLM have set up a joint committee to discuss outstanding issues and plan a trouble-free transition after the vote.

Over the next few months they are expected to negotiate four key issues: sharing oil resources, citizenship, security and respect of international agreements, with the next meeting due July 19.

"We are confident that we can reach a framework agreement on post-referendum arrangement," Amum said.

"If the choice is separation then we will be ensuring that there will be good cooperation between the two independent states, it could take the form of a confederation or a common market," he told reporters.

Former South African president Thabo Mbeki, who chairs an African Union committee on Sudan, said one of the possibilities under consideration was a "confederal arrangement."

"We considered the possibility of the creation of two independent countries which negotiate a framework of cooperation, which extends to the establishment of shared governance institutions in a confederal arrangement" he said at the ceremony.

"The responsibility to determine what will then happen to the entirety of the Sudanese people, whether as one nation or two, falls upon the leaders of the NCP and SPLM," he said.

Of the four issues facing talks, the question of sharing oil revenues is the most sensitive and has been a major source of tension in the run-up to the referendum.

Sudan produces 500,000 barrels of oil per day and has reserves estimated at six billion barrels, most of it on the border between north and south.

Oil accounts for 98 percent of revenues of the government of the semi-autonomous south and about 60 percent of revenues for the north.

The contested oil-rich region of Abyei will hold a separate referendum to decide whether it wants to join the north or the south of Sudan.

Southern politicians have accused Khartoum of increasing its military presence on its side of the border, which the north denies.

"There is a clear and present need for the negotiators to address what will happen to the oil, whatever the result of the referendum," said Rosie Sharpe of Global Witness.
Roundup: Sudan gov't partners begin negotiations on post referendum arrangements
From Xinhua News Agency (via newsystocks.com) - Saturday, 10 July 2010:
(KHARTOUM) - Sudan government's two major partners, the National Congress Party (NPC) and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), on Saturday started a new round of negotiations on post referendum arrangements.

SPLM Secretary General Pagan Amum who spoke at the opening session of the negotiations Saturday promised that the SPLM would negotiate with the NCP on the base of keenness and goodwill to ensure reaching an agreement on the issues concerning the post referendum phase after the key referendum early next year on southern independence.

"Today, the SPLM stands here to offer a promise to the people of Sudan, whether they are southerners or northerners, from western Sudan or eastern Sudan, that we shall negotiate in good faith with the national congress party and try to reach an agreement on all the post referendum issues," he said.

He further warned against escalation of differences between the NCP and the SPLM on the Abyei referendum, which is expected to be conducted simultaneously with south Sudan referendum, slated for January 2011.

"Even though the recent unfolding events have shown that the Abyei referendum is at risk, we in the SPLM want to categorically reiterate that the Abyei referendum is intertwined with the referendum for the people of southern Sudan," he said.

"Failure to conduct it concurrently with the referendum for the people of southern Sudan, as stipulated in the CPA, renders risk of slipping our country back to the conflict, a scenario none of us want to see," he added.

Iddris Mohamed Abdel-Ghader, a leading NCP member, on his part, expressed the NCP's desire and continuing endeavor to make unity attractive with the stress on the southerners' right to freely choose between unity and separation.

"Sudan's unity is still our priority and at the same time we stress on the southerners' right to decide their destiny according to the international principles and standards," he said.

Chairman of African Union (AU) Wisemen Panel Thabo Mbeki, who presented himself in the conference, disclosed four suggestions by the AU on the future of the relation between north and south Sudan after the referendum.

"In our option one, we visualize the situation which will divide the country into two independent countries with no durable links," he said.

"In our option two, we visualize the situation in which there would be two independent states existing within a broader negotiated framework of cooperation, making for soft borders that permit movement for both people and goods," he added.

As for the third option, he said, "we consider the possibility of the creation of two independent states who can negotiate to the extent of the establishment of shared government institutions in a confederal arrangement."

"And finally, we visualize the possibility of Sudan remaining one country with the federal arrangements between the north and the south," he said.

The negotiations between the NCP and the SPLM reviewed several strategic issues, including the security arrangements, the most complicated of all.

Sudan now has three armies -- the Sudanese Armed Forces of the north, the Sudan People Liberation Army of south Sudan and the Joint Integrated Units which are composed of elements from north and south Sudan armies.

The Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), inked between north and south Sudan in 2005, stipulates that the joint integrated units should constitute a nucleus of post referendum army of Sudan and accept the result of the referendum, otherwise they would be dissolved.

Other issues touched upon during the session included the file of oil revenues sharing, in which the two sides should agree on the distribution of the oil revenues, presently and in the future, the Nile water issue, and issues concerning assets of the state and the currency and the banking system.
RELATED REPORTS

Sudan faces split into two one-party states
From Reuters (via Zimbabwe Independent)
Friday, 09 July 2010. Excerpt:
AN internationally brokered peace deal that was supposed to transform Sudan into a unified democracy could be about to split Africa’s largest country into two one-party states. [...] “Sudan is now better classified as a two-party state where democracy takes a back seat to the authoritarian regimes that control their respective regions. Opposition parties throughout the entire country now hold less than 5% of the seats in the National Assembly,” academic Marc Gustafson wrote in an analysis of the results on the blog Making Sense of Sudan. If all goes as expected in the referendum, that two-party state would become two one-party states.
South Sudan Referendum Taskforce begins to strategize on its responsibilities
From Sudan Tribune by James Gatdet Dak (JUBA)
Thursday, 08 July 2010. Excerpt:
THE high level politically empowered Southern Sudan Referendum Taskforce (SSRT) under the chairmanship of the Vice President, Dr. Riek Machar Teny, met on Wednesday to strategize on its role and work on the budget.

The Referendum Taskforce, which is based in Southern Sudan, is different from the recently formed technical Southern Sudan Referendum Commission (SSRC) which is headquartered in Khartoum with branches in Juba and states.

The role of the Taskforce is to give political guidance and mobilize the population to register and vote, among others, including maintenance of security in the region to achieve conduct of a free and fair referendum. This is in carrying out the government’s obligation as the custodian authority under which territory or jurisdiction the plebiscite will take place.

South Sudanese rally for independence

AFP - ‎09 July 2010‎
JUBA, Sudan - Hundreds of supporters of south Sudan independence
rallied in Juba on Friday, six months ahead of a crucial referendum
that could lead to the ...

6 months until South Sudan votes to secede

The Associated Press - ‎09 July 2010‎
JUBA, Sudan — Hundreds of people wearing bright orange shirts
gathered in the capital of Southern Sudan on Friday
to mark the six-month countdown until the ...

Abyei killings 'intended to upset Sudan referendum'

AngolaPress - ‎09 July 2010‎
JUBA, - Some 50000 fled their homes in Abyei two years ago
Recent killings in Sudan's Abyei region are intended to
affect next year's referendum on ...

Police kill man carrying 300 bomb detonators



The Standard - Cyrus Ombati - 10 July 2010
Another officer said they suspect the detonators were to either be
used locally or in Southern Sudan where their demand is high. ...
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STATEMENT OF THE CHAIRPERSON OF THE AUHIP, THABO MBEKI, AT THE LAUNCH OF THE SUDAN POST-REFERENDUM NEGOTIATIONS: KHARTOUM, JULY 10, 2010.


Click here to visit Alex de Waal's blog, Making Sense of Sudan, and read Thabo Mbeki’s Statement at the Launch of the Post-Referendum Negotiations.
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Quote of the Day

Here is a copy of a comment posted at above mentioned blog post re “Pres. Mbeki’s Statement at the Launch of the Post-Referendum Negotiations”:
Comment by Ibrahim Adam:
July 10th, 2010 at 10:27 am

Right man.

Right time.

Right place.

No bombast.

No axe to grind.

No threats or finger-wagging.

How refreshing.

I love Thabo.

We Sudanese are very, very lucky to have the huge well of wisdom, humility, sincerity, sobriety, and smartness that is the Honorable Thabo Mbeki.

Give thanks.

Ibrahim Adam
El Fasher
North Darfur
Sudan
Amen.

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