Monday, November 24, 2008

Abyei: Drawing a firm North-South border is one of the biggest challenges facing Sudan

Question: What happens if the North-South Sudan border issue isn't resolved? Answer: A very ugly, protracted and expensive border war.

Drawing a firm North-South border is one of the biggest challenges facing Sudan.

From Strategy Page, November 24, 2008 - Border Wars:
Drawing a firm North-South border is one of the biggest challenges facing Sudan. The Government of South Sudan knows that this is a divisive issue (literally and figuratively) in the south as well as the north. Several tribes have let it be known they are suspicious of the process, believing that "the line has already been drawn" (by someone in a back room). The border issue, however, has not been settled.

The 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) called for a fair and open border demarcation process that would take into account "verbal information" from tribal leaders as well as "physical features of the landscape" (like, don't arbitrarily divide a range of hills).

One of the biggest factors in drawing a North-South border is traditional tribal settlement patterns, which the war wrecked when so many people became refugees.

The boundary is also supposed to take into account "historical materials" like old Sudanese maps and colonial era maps. But there are a lot of problems with the old maps.

Border demarcation is way behind schedule. It was supposed to be done before the 2009 elections.

In 2011 South Sudan is supposed to hold a referendum on independence. Abyei is also supposed to vote that year on whether or not that region will be part of North Sudan or become part of South Sudan if South Sudan opts for independence.

What happens if the border issue isn't resolved?

Diplomats will advocate arbitration, but if that doesn't work the conditions are set for a very ugly, protracted and expensive border war.
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Fighting between northern and southern troops over the contested oil-rich town of Abyei in May raised fears that Sudan could be heading back to civil war, and there have been numerous reports that both sides are re-arming

Former southern Sudan rebels threaten budget block

November 18, 2008 (Reuters) report by Andrew Heavens, a British journalist based in Khartoum, Sudan:
Sudan's former southern rebels threatened on Monday to withhold support from the budget unless President Omar Hassan al-Bashir's party agreed to enact a list of measures promised in the 2005 north-south peace deal.

Relations between the coalition partners have frequently come under strain over accusations by the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) that its former foe is dragging its feet on parts of the peace deal. Now the approach of elections scheduled for next year is adding to tensions.


Senior SPLM member Yasir Arman told Reuters the SPLM wanted Bashir's National Congress Party to pass a list of key laws in the current parliamentary session, which ends next month.

"If these laws are not included (in this session), the leadership of the SPLM is thinking of boycotting the endorsement of the budget for 2009," he said.

The measures cover national security, the media, criminal law, and a referendum on secession for South Sudan promised for 2012 under the peace deal.

The National Congress Party controls parliament, but any attempt to force through a budget without SPLM support would lack legitimacy under the peace agreement, and analysts say it is almost inconceivable.

Arman said a high-level SPLM committee was hoping to meet National Congress officials later on Monday to discuss the impasse.

He said all the pending legislation was essential to the democratic transformation of Sudan outlined in the peace deal.

No one was immediately available for comment from the National Congress Party.


However, parliament did pass one other key part of the peace agreement on Monday by approving an electoral commission, a key step in organising Sudan's first free national election in 23 years.

"This is a relief," said Riek Machar, vice president of south Sudan's semi-autonomous government in Juba.

He said the make-up of the commission had been agreed between the National Congress Party and the SPLM for about two months but administrative issues had held up the process.

The commission will decide the election date and arrange how voting will work, but other obstacles to the poll remain.

"We still need the census results, demarcation of constituencies and the demarcation of the north-south border," said Wol Atak, a member of the southern parliament.

"Of course it's a step in the right direction, but there are other issues to be solved."

The SPLM fought Khartoum for more than two decades until the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement set up a national coalition government.

The SPLM temporarily pulled its ministers out of the coalition in October 2007, saying the north was blocking parts of the peace deal.

Fighting between northern and southern troops over the contested oil-rich town of Abyei in May raised fears that Sudan could be heading back to civil war, and there have been numerous reports that both sides are re-arming.
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Formulation of an Independent National Electoral Commission (NEC) to oversee Sudan's first major elections in several decades due in 2009

AU chief lauds Sudan's preparations for post-war polls

November 20, 2008 (PANA) report from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia:
The African Union (AU) said Thursday it was delighted at the formulation of an independent National Electoral Commission (NEC) to oversee Sudan's first major elections in several decades due in 2009.

AU Commission Chairperson Jean Ping said the Sudanese parliament's approval of the members of the electoral team was a major milestone in efforts to turn Sudan into a "truly democratic country" in line with the requirements of the comprehensive peace accord.

Sudan has not held elections in decades, as the country has been under military rule.

However, elections are anticipated in 2009, signaling the end of the war in the Southern Sudan region, which lasted for more than 21 years.

Southern Sudanese adults, especially those in the 50-plus age bracket, do not remember participating in any form of elections in their lifetime.

However, CPA signed in Nairobi on 9 January, 2005, set a time-frame for election s in the Sudan.

The elections might also be a referendum on the touchy issues that have consiste ntly divided the North and the South and would mark the official end of the war b etween the Northern and the Southern Sudan, which have been jostling for full co n trol.

Under the 2005 peace accord that ended the war, Southern Sudan has a semi-autono mous government with limited powers to engage directly with other foreign governments.

The Southern Sudan also has its own legislative body and a cabinet, with more th an 10 state governments, including the one in the disputed territory of Abyei, which had its own government formed just months ago after nearly three years of po l itical wrangling.

Ping said in a statement that he was pleased the Sudanese politicians agreed on the setting up and the appointment of the members of the electoral body.

He pledged the commission's support to the peace efforts in the Sudan and also u rged the new electoral team to ensure the polls due in 2009 are conducted in a more transparent, free and fair manner.

"The African Union stands ready to provide assistance to the NEC to ensure that the newly established commission carries out its mandate successfully," he assured.
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Fighting talk from a South Sudan citizen

Here is an excerpt from an opinion piece authored by a Sudanese citizen, published at

Freedom Is Coming Soon

Written and Witnessed by: Ojwok Yorwin, South Sudan Citizen
Typed by: Stephanie J. Steward, Canadian Citizen
Sent by: Yuanes Kur Payit
November 21, 2008
Posted to the web on November 21, 2008
"My dear fellows, people of Darfur and as wide as South Sudan, "Freedom" remind you that if you do not fight, but stand weak still, your enemy will never give you the freedom you are yearning.  Because "Freedom" is on his way coming soon to you, you must come together and fight for your new and unborn children's futures.  For your land, you must fight; for your futures, you must fight.  Your leaders, government, economy, resources, lands, parents, brothers and sisters, and for love ones who have been used by your enemy, you must fight for. 

Fight!  Fight!  Fight!  For if you do not fight now, you shall have no freedom of any, and you are showing signs of ruined nations and weakness, lost of economy, lack of willing to have opportunities of good change.  If you do not fight, you shall always be slaved and slaves.  Second citizen classes you shall become in your own land, South Sudan or Darfur if you do not fight for your freedom."  Fight for your rights and Freedom.   "Freedom is coming soon."

Freedom will not come if you do not fight or if you show omens of limitations.  Therefore, fight; use any tool that you have in your hand now.  Unite and stand strong as one nation, South Sudan.  Darfur must do the same.  One dialogue, one heart, and one hand you must become to gain freedom.  Held "Freedom" the responsibilities of why you are fighting because He is coming soon, "Freedom" is coming soon."

For any comment, please feel free to contact Yuanes Kur at
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