I have spent over 40 years of my life at war. I was born minutes before Sudanese soldiers gunned down the leaders of my village in South Sudan and I spent the first week of my life hiding in the jungle with my mother. I became a child soldier thirteen years later and survived only by the grace of God. In the years since, I have worked to seek peace as a chaplain for the Southern rebels and now as the head of the Sudan Evangelical Alliance and the Sudan and Uganda Evangelical Presbyterian Church.
Too many people have died in my country, but millions more would have died if the American people and churches had not sent aid and put pressure on Khartoum to negotiate peace with the Southern rebels. The U.S. helped South Sudan gain independence about a year ago. But we need continued involvement from our American brothers and sisters to ensure our nation survives its infancy.
My life’s prayer is that we turn our swords into ploughs and instead of digging graves we dig wells and build foundations for hospitals. But over the last year, the leaders of Sudan and South Sudan have remained locked in political disputes that have resulted in violence along our shared border and a growing economic crisis. South Sudan has the majority of the region’s oil, but the pipelines to ship it pass through Sudan. This mutual dependence on oil revenue could help build cooperation between north and south after independence. Instead oil has become a weapon both sides use to harm the other.
After Khartoum unilaterally seized southern oil in lieu of transport fees that the two countries had failed to agree on, South Sudan decided to halt oil production in January. It was a bold move, but it was justified: Khartoum benefited from southern oil for years even as it marginalized the south.
But even when one is in the right, justice and revenge can become easily confused. There must always come a point where we look forward and recognize the need to stop fighting over past wrongs so we can build toward a new future. That time has come for South Sudan. We must restart oil production and work out an agreement to transport it through north Sudan. But we will need international support and pressure on Khartoum if that plan is to succeed. This month, the two parties met in Addis Ababa to negotiate a new oil deal, but yet again could not reach an agreement. Without outside intervention or pressure from the U.S., it seems unlikely that the two sides will reach a settlement ahead of the August 2 deadline set by the United Nations.
Bishop Taban, right, delivers medical supplies to villagers in a South Sudan town. Photo credit:Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Sudan
The cessation of southern oil production and export has hurt both countries and weakened our fragile peace. The region has lost its primary funding stream. South Sudan has seen nearly 80 percent inflation. Families are struggling to get by, and half of the South Sudanese population faces food shortages. All the progress the country has made over the last year on education and health is grinding to a halt as funding runs dry.
This is not how it should be. Both Sudan and South Sudan are blessed with fertile lands created by two rivers that join to form the Nile. We should be the breadbasket of Africa and a model for cooperation between the Middle East and Africa.
The U.S. should use its leverage in Sudan and South Sudan to help the two countries come to an agreement on transparent oil transportation fees. We also need international help in finalizing the boundary between Sudan and South Sudan. And we need help from the government, NGOs, and church friends in the U.S. to ensure that the vast humanitarian needs in South Sudan are met as the world’s newest nation continues to develop its enormous agricultural potential. America has been an ally throughout our struggles, and I don’t think there is a country in the world that loves Americans more than South Sudan.
My faith teaches that suffering and strife may last the night, but joy and peace come with the dawn. I still believe we will build schools, homes, and communities, and that my children can grow up without experiencing the violence and strife that have defined my life. I am asking that America continue to walk this road with us as we seek a new dawn for our region.
Bishop Elias Taban holds a Diploma in Civil Engineering and an advanced Diploma in Theology. He works as a mentor to many in the South Sudanese government and was one of the few senior religious leaders to have stayed in South Sudan during the long north-south conflict.
Source: New York Times. This article first appeared in The New York Times
The two countries have been embroiled in weeks of fighting along their 1,800 km (1,200 mile) border, threatening to tip the region, which sits on one of Africa's most significant oil deposits, into a full-blown conflict.
The United Nations Security Council approved a resolution that threatens both countries with sanctions if they do not stop fighting and resume negotiations within two weeks, as demanded by the African Union.
China, which has close trade relations with both countries, and Russia supported the resolution after several days of negotiations with council members during which they resisted the Western push for a threat of sanctions.
"The fighting must stop, and stop now," the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice told the council. At the same time, Sudan said it agreed "in principle" with an African Union plan to end the crisis with the south. The AU demanded on April 24 that Sudan and South Sudan resume talks within two weeks, warning both it would issue its own binding rulings if they fail to strike deals on a series of disputes within three months.
The AU has spearheaded mediation efforts between the two foes in the past with the backing of the United Nations, the United States and other major powers. South Sudan committed to the AU road map last month. South Sudan's army, the SPLA, said it killed 27 Sudanese army soldiers in a clash in Unity state on Tuesday.
But despite the persistent clashes in the border region, the two countries have stopped short of all-out war, with their positions broadly the same as before the south seized Heglig.
Sudan accused South Sudan of launching several attacks over the past week on its territory. It said the SPLA had occupied a border village in Bahr al-Arab as well as the disputed areas of Kafn Dubai and Kafya Kenji. South Sudan seized the contested Heglig oilfield last month before withdrawing shortly afterwards. The field is vital to Sudan's economy because it produced almost half of the country's output of 115,000 barrels per day.
President Bashir pic:ctpost
"This oilfield was producing 55,000 barrels per day," Sudanese Petroleum Minister Awad Ahmed al-Jaz said at the oilfield, accompanied by oil engineers and military officers.
"Now as we said ... we plan to produce more than that, besides the production of other oilfields which will follow," he said, as he opened one the oil valves.
Jaz said the oilfield had started pumping oil at 10 p.m. (1900 GMT) on Monday. He did not indicate how much Heglig was currently producing.
"We can say the oil has now reached the Khartoum refinery."
Sudan lost three-quarters of its output when South Sudan became independent in July last year. Both countries are at loggerheads over how much the southern landlocked nation should pay to export its crude through the north. The conflict has shut down nearly all oil production in the region, strangling both countries' oil-dependent economies.
In January, South Sudan shut down its entire output of 350,000 bpd to stop Khartoum taking some oil for what it calls unpaid transit fees.
Satellite images showed a key part of the oil infrastructure in Heglig was destroyed in the fighting. An earlier trip to Heglig showed damaged pipelines that were leaking oil.
On Wednesday, reporters saw pipelines that had been repaired, but which still bore the effects of damage. Jaz said the power plant as well as rooms that manage the collecting, refining and storage of the oil had been damaged. "Those who came here and saw the damage said that the repairs could not be completed in six months," Jaz told reporters taken on an official trip to the oilfield.
"Those who were optimistic suggested it would take four months to repair the damage. But the repair only took one week."
Jaz said four foreigners, whom Khartoum said they arrested on Saturday for illegally entering Heglig and for being spies for the SPLA, had "participated in the destruction".
The four, a Briton, South African, Norwegian and South Sudanese, are U.N.-affiliated workers.
The United Nations rejected the accusations.
"All four personnel were carrying out formal demining activities in Paryang, in Unity State," a spokeswoman for the U.N. mission in South Sudan, Josephine Guerro, said. Heglig is operated by Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Co (GNPOC), a consortium of Chinese, Malaysia, Indian and Sudanese companies. Parts of the border area around the Heglig field in Block 2 are still in dispute.
South Sudan has agreed to an immediate end to hostilities in accordance with an African Union road map, which is meant to bring the former civil war foes back to the negotiating table.
But fighting along the border has continued.
The SPLA's spokesman, Philip Aguer, said the ground attack in Hofra on Tuesday, had later been accompanied by air strikes by a Sudanese Antonov and MiG-27 fighter jets.
"The SPLA killed 27 SAF soldiers, including a major that was commanding the force," Aguer said on Wednesday. "(The SPLA) ... captured five trucks mounted with heavy machine guns. They fled towards Heglig."
Sudan's army spokesman did not answer phone calls to verify the SPLA's claims. Limited access to the remote border areas make it difficult to verify the often contradictory statements from both sides.
(Additional reporting and writing by Yara Bayoumy; Editing by David Clarke and Giles Elgood)
The newly independent nation of South Sudan has officially withdrawn its determined but insufficiently equipped military contingent on the disputed Heglig oil field and the aggressive Khartoum government to the north, The Islamic Republic of Sudan has declared victory.
The Heglig oil field or Panthou oil field as South Sudan called it, is situated in the southern Sudan but the Islamic Sudan has laid hold of it even before South Sudan got her political independent and divorce from Sudan government last year July.
Heglig or Panthou is an oil rich field that Sudan depended for its wellbeing and its economic significant to Sudan cannot be overemphasized. Reuters reported that the disputed landstrip “The Heglig field is the key to the Sudanese economy because it contributes almost half of the country's output of 115,000 bpd. Sudan lost three quarters of its output when South Sudan became independent in July last year. Both countries are locked in a row over how much the landlocked new nation should pay to export its crude through the north. "
The Heglig oil field was operated by the Chinese as it was contracted to Chinese-led operator by Sudan government. The maximum output of 60,000 barrels per day was unaffected as South Sudan captured the peripheral of the oil field before its subsequent withdrawal.
The Khartoum government of President Omar al-Bashir was energetic in its response to the temporary occupation of Heglig oil field. President Bashir's Sudan mobilized its relatively equipped military force and attacked military troops of South Sudan via land and air. Sudan government also engaged efficiently in a massive public relation strategy to bring the whole world on her side. And Sudan government this time succeeded in bringing the world to her version of its perspective and story on Heglig , this time around the world for the first time condemned South Sudan's President Salva Kiir.
United Nations and African Union did not hold back in rebuking the actions of South Sudan. Even the United Nations secretary Ban Ki Moon went further with its condemnation and labeled the action of President Salva Kiir's South Sudan ‘illegal’.
South Sudan withdrawal can be strategic in the sense that it has alerted the global village that its claim on the disputed oil field has not ceased. The critical issue is that the enmity between North and South has not diminished even with southern independent.
South Sudan has the burden that history laid on her shoulder; the land and the people has been deprived with poverty, humiliation and undeniable oppression from the Islamic Sudan government. Now the South Sudan is in the position to assert her independent and dignity. South Sudan since divorce from the north has never shy away from registering its past grievances through peaceful or otherwise. The diplomatic breakthrough enjoyed by South Sudan was achieve by negotiations and settlements through part by fighting and sitting on the table. Therefore South Sudan do have a clear agenda for her actions, but she should adhered to established norms and standard for attainable of peace.
Bashir's Sudan and South Sudan'sKiir should recognized that military confrontation cannot be the only channel for dispute settlement but through a less destructive path of peaceful negotiation and comprehensive conflict resolution.
BBC reported that "Mr. Kiir said the South still believed that Heglig was a part of South Sudan and that its final status should be determined by international arbitration, Associated Press reported. Heglig is internationally accepted to be part of Sudanese territory - although the precise border is yet to be demarcated. The UK minister for Africa welcomed the news of the withdrawal and urged restraint on both sides."
"Both Sudan and the South are reliant on their oil revenues, which account for 98% of South Sudan's budget. But the two countries cannot agree how to divide the oil wealth of the former united state. Some 75% of the oil lies in the South but all the pipelines run north. It is feared that disputes over oil could lead the two neighbours to return to war."- BBC
President Obama and his administration did a good job in seeing to the implementation of the verses of Sudanese accord and subsequent South Sudan independent. President Obama reiterating of peaceful negotiation for the both parties must be enhanced with urgency and effective backup by United States.
President Obama was in the right direction as he called for negotiated peace on the land. His words “We know what needs to happen -- the government of Sudan must stop its military actions, including aerial bombardments," Obama said. "Likewise, the government of South Sudan must end its support for armed groups inside Sudan and it must cease its military actions across the border."
Bashir‘s government must be made to understand that more violence begets more violence and everybody will become a loser. As an elder statesman in Africa, he must be gradual and easy on force and continue to exhibit the path he took for the South Sudan to realize its nationhood. At same hand the South Sudan with its heavy heart rooted on history of depravity and destruction should exercise patient and show some goodwill by allowing peaceful negotiation to be the pathway to a peaceful and mutual recognized outcome.
The world must acknowledged the burden of history that was laid on the new independent nation of South Sudan and should be fair on its approach not by throwing raucous and overreaching condemnation when South Sudan stands up for her right. Quite diplomacy and logical appeasement may deem inevitable and necessary when dealing with a new nation that is struggling to stand on her own.
Look no further than Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Algeria, Sudan and our own backyard to get a glimpse of what’s to come
Africa has often been compared to a gun, with Nigeria as its trigger. On closer inspection of the colonially inspired map, South Africa would be the muzzle, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) the barrel, Algeria the grip, and Sudan the bottom of the hammer.
If Afro-pessimists often depict the continent as a powder keg, Afro-realists recognise that the fate of these five countries will largely determine Africa's future. South Africa is the continent's largest economy, Nigeria its most populous nation, and Sudan, Algeria and the DRC its three geographically largest countries.
The five states are collectively rich in oil, gas, gold, copper and cobalt. And it is on these five pillars that our continent's future will rest. The national and regional leadership of these countries, their capacity to promote stability (or instability) and economic integration in their respective sub-regions, and the "crisis of youth" that afflicts them will all shape Africa's future.
South Africa's first two post-apartheid presidents, Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki, both attended Christian missionary schools and are Anglophile Xhosas who greatly admired British culture and institutions. But, where Mandela ruled like a patriarch, leaving policy details to his lieutenants, Mbeki was a policy wonk who revelled in the mechanics of governance. Where Mandela was charismatic and popular among the masses, Mbeki relied on political manoeuvring within the ANC.
During Mandela's presidency between 1994 and 1999, South Africa largely shunned a military role in Southern Africa for fear of arousing charges of hegemonic domination based on a sordid apartheid history of destabilisation.
Under Mbeki, South Africa led peacemaking efforts in the Congo, Burundi and Côte d'Ivoire. South African firms also fanned out across the continent to establish interests in mining, banking, retail, communications, arms and insurance. The country has been the largest single investor in the rest of Africa in recent years, and accounts for 80% of Southern Africa's economic might. South Africa must thus lead integration efforts within the Southern African Development Community.
In the area of youth, the country's commentariat has spilled much ink on the petulant behaviour of ANC Youth League leader, Julius Malema, whose organisation has traditionally played the role of king maker and will be closely watched at the next ANC leadership conference in 2012.
Nigeria has often been described as the "Giant of Africa" on account of its population of 140-million and large economic and human resources. The country is the world's sixth largest oil producer, a large exporter of gas and accounts for 75% of West Africa's economic strength.
But Nigeria has been dogged by massive corruption and visionless leadership. Elections in April 2011 must avoid the fraudulent practices of the past if West Africa is to achieve stability. Pax Nigeriana admirably led peacekeeping efforts in Liberia and Sierra Leone in the 1990s and must continue to promote regional integration through the Economic Community of West African States.
But Nigeria's ability to continue to bankroll Ecowas and subregional peacekeeping has recently come under strain. Governance challenges also continue to bedevil West Africa's Gulliver and it is unclear whether Nigeria will be a source of stability or instability in future.
Nigeria's "crisis of youth" is evidenced by the armed militants in its oil-producing Niger Delta who have shut down a quarter of the country's oil production and engaged in increasingly wanton acts of domestic terrorism.
Sudan, Africa's geographically largest state with nine neighbours, is a microcosm of the continent's Afro-Arab diversity. But the country has been embroiled for five decades in a seemingly endless series of civil conflicts.
At the core of these crises lies a northern Sudanese elite, who sees itself as Arab and has, in recent times, adopted a jihadist ideology that has sought forcibly to Islamise other populations and subjugate them politically, militarily, culturally and economically. The simultaneous Islamisation and militarisation of society is reflected the military-religious alliance that seized power under General Omar al-Bashir in 1989.
Even as the war in South Sudan continued, rebellions also erupted over the government's oppressive policies in Darfur, southern Kordofan and Blue Nile. Khartoum's atrocities against its own citizens included al-Bashir's jihad against the south in which at least 500000 people died. In the volatile Darfur region, about 300000 people have died since 2003.
A referendum next month will give the oil-rich south the chance to secede, which it is expected to seize, creating only the second new state in post-independence Africa since Eritrea in 1993. Unless cooperation between north and south is established, the potential of this conflict destabilising Eastern, Central and North Africa is extremely high.
Sudan's "crisis of youth" stems from the rebellions that have used young people to wage war, and two generations of Sudanese have lived with conflict amid a massive proliferation of arms.
The similarities between Sudan and another large former British territory, Nigeria, are striking. Nigeria also has a largely Muslim north and largely Christian and traditional south, which were ruled separately under colonialism. Christian missionaries were excluded from both northern Sudan and northern Nigeria.
The British Raj left the north of both countries with built-in political advantages. In both cases, the political systems of the newly born states soon collapsed into civil war under the weight of their historical contradictions. Sudanese politicians' use of murderous militias in Darfur and other provinces mirrors Nigerian politicians' use of militias in the volatile oil-producing Niger Delta - in both cases, cynical pseudo-scientists have created Frankenstein monsters that spiral out of their control and develop an independent life of their own.
In both Sudan and Nigeria, military messiahs and profligate politicians have squabbled over the spoils of office, using political power to acquire personal wealth, with the corruption fuelled by the discovery of oil. Ruling parties in both countries are effectively conglomerations of opportunistic local barons and godfathers with no ideological glue besides their incredible greed and lust for power seemingly holding them together.
Meanwhile, Africa's Great Lakes have become infested with ethnic crocodiles of the genocidal species. The conflict in the DRC since 1998 involved seven foreign armies and a myriad militias and mercenaries in a state that was destroyed by the kleptocratic 31-year misrule of the Western-backed Mobutu Sese Seko.
Mobutu sought to play the role of peacemaker in Angola in the 1980s despite having supported the psychopathic warlord, Jonas Savimbi, for more than a decade. About three million people have died in the DRC in the past 12 years.
A United Nations mission in the DRC has helped to stabilise the country (as the world body had done between 1960 and 1964), though instability continues in Orientale and Kivu provinces. But the potential of the Congo - based on its size, strategic location and natural resources - to play a leadership role in the Great Lakes region, as Nigeria has done in West Africa and South Africa in Burundi and the DRC, has been diminished by the state's decay into a carcass on which neighbouring vultures such as Uganda and Rwanda have feasted.
The Economic Community of Central African States has thus been unable to promote economic integration effectively, and the DRC joined SADC in 1997 instead of leading its own Central African subregion.
The DRC has also suffered a "lost generation" of youths used as cannon fodder by ruthless warlords. Nevertheless, the country's first election in 40 years in 2006 has brought some stability to large parts of the DRC. It, like Sudan, borders nine states, and peace on the continent will depend on stability in this huge country at the heart of Africa.
In North Africa, oil- and gas-rich Algeria has been prevented from assuming its role as the natural hegemon of the Maghreb because of a bloody civil war after its military annulled democratic elections that Islamists were poised to win in 1991, resulting in more than 100000 deaths. An estimated 70% of Algeria's population is now under 30 years old and the future will belong to its youth.
Algeria's septuagenarian leader, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, has been dogged by reports of ill health and fraudulent elections, and many of his military supporters also represent an older generation.
Despite its domestic strife, Algeria has been an active peacemaker, hosting the end of the Ethiopia/Eritrea conflict in 2000. But the Arab Maghreb Union, created in 1989 to promote economic cooperation in North Africa, has become dormant because of the continuing friction in bilateral relations between Algeria and Morocco, particularly after the latter stole the former Spanish colony of Western Sahara in 1975, a theft condoned today by the United States and France.
Where to from here?
Africa's five pillars face enormous challenges in achieving durable peace and promoting economic integration on the continent. Though the decision to freeze the map of the continent in the 1960s may have been wise in a sovereignty-obsessed era of insecure, unconsolidated states, today's generation of Africans must muster the ingenuity to craft new regional arrangements centred around our five Gullivers.
Federations and regional trade blocs must be negotiated and territorial boundaries agreed on that in the long term better reflect the political, socioeconomic and cultural realities of a vast continent of 800-million citizens.
After detailed planning, African leaders and civil society activists must proceed to the ancient empire of Ethiopia - the seat of African diplomacy - and reverse the scandalous act of cartographic mischief inflicted by European statesmen who set the rules for carving up the continent at the Conference of Berlin 125 years ago.
Dr Adekeye Adebajo is the executive director of the Centre for Conflict Resolution, Cape Town, and the author of The Curse of Berlin: Africa after the Cold War (2010)
Source: Mail & Guardian Online
Web Address: http://www.mg.co.za/article/2010-12-23-where-to-africa
Independent Referendum to be closely monitored and implemented
Sudan as a nation has never known peace since her independent from Britain in 1956. There were always inter or intra tribal conflicts, regional division, ideological fragmentations and religious conflagration. There were two protracted civil wars and Darfur conflict that resulted into genocide. These intractable problems have never gone away and the constancy of these problems has disorganized the largest land mass country in Africa. Sudan is endowed with natural resources notably crude oil but massive poverty, diseases and wars have become the landmark of the troubled land.
At this moment emerges a window of opportunity from the notably Peace Accord made between the Islamic North and mostly Christian South that called for a referendum in January for the self-determination of the South. This opportunity to end the wars, genocide and abhorrent status quo in Sudan cannot be allowed to flatter away. The Bush administration must be acknowledged for their contribution to the advancing of peace making between the warring factions in Sudan that culminated to the Peace Accord, subsequently with the scheduled forthcoming independent referendum in January.
The Obama administration and United Nations must utilize all the leverage they can muster to make sure that the Sudanese government of President Omar al-Bashir do not back down from the timetable and the implementation of the accord. Earlier, President al-Bashir was indicted by International Criminal Court at Hague for war crime in the Darfur genocide. Although President al-Bashir has assented that he will abide by the outcome of the referendum which will surely result to the secession of the Southern Sudan but the watchful eye of the world is still necessary.
Sudan's President al-Bashir (r.) and First Vice President Salva Kiir Mayardit (Southern leader) Pics: Christian Monitor
United Nations must make the necessary arrangement to ensure that the outcome of the referendum will be honored in orderly framework. The presidential candidate Barrack Obama was talking up the issue of Sudan during his campaign for presidency and was showing all the signs of being on top of it once he got elected. The critics of Obama administration including Human Rights organizations and some members of US congress were complaining that his policy on Sudan is murky and that may be unfounded.
President Obama administration is backing the independent referendum which he reiterated America’s support during his appearance at the United Nations conference in September. President Obama said, "The stakes are enormous, we all know the terrible price paid by the Sudanese people the last time north and south were engulfed in war -- some 2 million people killed."
The United Nations General Assembly cannot afford to be playing child’s picnic with the issue of Sudan because the downside will be a horrible ramification that will quadrupled human sufferings that comes with massive loss of lives, property destruction and with unspoken tolls of hardship. United Nations has to put more resources and energy by aiding African Union and listening to the counsel of Nigeria’s Professor Gambari, United Nations Special envoy to the Arab League Summit that he is offering in order for the cessation of the violence to be sustainable. African Union (AU) can be of great help because Sudan is in their turf but AU lacks the necessary fund, resources and logistic to implement the accord singlehanded.
Khartoum government may likely back down from the accord without any credible power breathing down over their back. Bashir government has every reason to withdraw from the peace accord because the oil resource is in the south. Therefore the United States and United Nations can bring firmness on the issue that will not provide the Khartoum incentive to be become reluctant to implement the accord.
This is not the time to appease tyrants and dictators who are not willing to work together with global community to foster tranquility and peace in their corner of the world. As Sudan is aspiring to be a democratic nation and a responsible nation she will follow up with the peace accord and avert further destruction of her land. President Bashir has to display a statesmanship with responsibility that will convince the peace loving people of our globe that his quest for peace and unity is without doubt.
Peace can be made self-evident not by words and promises but action and commitment to peace. The world community must be willing to work with the Sudanese government to bring to an end the wars and disease in the land. At the end of the day if the South ratified the referendum by voting Yes, then their self-determination will be honored and respected. And that will mark a new chapter in the annals of peace making and a new dawn of peace will commence in the troubled land of Sudan.
In 21st century Africa, peace is a precious resource and Africa must be willing to do anything within her power to maintain a peaceful continent. The greatest bearer of brunt of African wars, instability and dilemma are women and children. The children of Africa and Sudan must be protected from wars, diseases and abuses emitted by their selfish leaders and war lords who were bent on implementing ideas and policies that do not promote peace, liberty and unity in the political landscape.