Addis Ababa Agreement: The Real Test Is in Implementation

By Ibrahim Al-Jack

December 4, 2012 (Sudan Vision)

The gap in Sudan-South Sudan relations seemed to be growing to the extent that observers were pessimistic about the possibility of bridging the gap. But now they are taken aback by rapid moves on both sides to reach some form of normalisation. 

After concluding the agreement in Addis Ababa in September, Sudan and South Sudan quarreled over which item to implement first. The joint security and political committee met in Juba for this reason but stumbled over the thorny issue of disengaging Sudan People’s Liberation Movement–North (SPLM-N) from South Sudan. The SPLM-N has been accused of triggering tensions in Sudan’s states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile. It appeared that differences on this issue were about to blow up the entire agreement, but each president sent positive signals when they talked with each other over the telephone and decided to resume discussions on security, the key to all other issues. 

Speedy implementation of cooperation agreement

In a telephone call, Presidents Al Bashir and his South Sudan counterpart Salva Kiir agreed to speedily implement the cooperation agreement, according to Sudan News Agency (SUNA).  South Sudan welcome Sudan’s Minister of Defence Abdul Rahim Mohamed Hussein’s proposal to hold the next round of talks in Khartoum. 

Presidents Al Bashir and Kiir agreed to accelerate talks on the disputed oil-rich region of Abyei. Abyei has been a bone of contention between both sides, and a settlement would bring about stability and security in the area.

Mission impossible

Earlier, Salva Kiir was quoted by Reuters as saying that Sudan made the transport and refining of South Sudan’s oil via Sudan’s facilities conditional on the disarmament of rebels fighting against Khartoum in South Kordofan and Blue Nile, a demand South Sudan deemed impossible.   “Sudan refused to allow the flow of South Sudan oil via its territories after making impossible demands,” Kiir told government officials in Juba. “It is a mission impossible our brothers in Khartoum want us to do; therefore officials in Khartoum refused to accept the passage of South Sudan oil through their territories up to east Sudan,” he added. 

Implementing security file is priority 

The spokesperson of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP), Badraddin Mohamed Suleiman described Salva Kiir’s statements as “dangerous” and blamed him for thinking of such statements. “We are committed to any agreement with South Sudan,” he said. However, Suleiman reiterated the priority of agreeing on security issues before implementing the oil agreement. “It is the principal basis agreed upon by the AU Security and Peace Council,” he said.  

“We are committed to all items of the agreement, including disengagement with SPLM-N,” he said in press statements, demanding the international community pressure South Sudan or declare that South Sudan is against following through with the agreement. He said the mediation has the responsibility to implement the agreement and that South Sudan’s government should be blamed for obstructing the agreement by insisting it cannot disengage Sudan People’ Liberation Movement – North (SPLM-N). 

The spokesperson said that the observers of the agreement indicated in their correspondence that Sudan is serious about translating the agreement into action. Accordingly, he demanded they exert pressure on South Sudan. He stated that Sudan’s position has been clear since the beginning—that a deal on oil will not be implemented unless an agreement on security issues is reached. “We will not help South Sudan support rebel movements on our soil,” he vowed. 

Foreign Ministry reiterates commitment to the agreement 

Ambassador Omar Mohamed Ahmed Sidiq, the foreign affairs undersecretary on duty, said that the government is keen to fulfill the cooperation agreement with South Sudan to ensure stability along common borders and to end all forms of support for rebel groups. He added that arrangements are underway for the joint security and political committee to hold a new round of talks. 

Meeting the US envoy for Sudan and South Sudan Princeton Lyman, Sidiq discussed developments and steps toward carrying out the agreement with South Sudan and humanitarian situation in South Kordufan and Blue Nile; in addition to conditions in Abyei. 

Security agreement is priority, not principle 

Hassan Alsauori, a political analyst, attributed the two sides’ contradicting views on implementation to a lack of clear timetables in the agreement. He added that the ongoing disagreement between the sides revolves around Sudan’s prioritising security issues before moving on to other files like oil and the economy, while South Sudan gives priority to oil, economic  issues and disputed regions.

Alsauori added that South Sudan was attempting to evade disarmament of the SPLM-N, which it supports, in return for gracious services the movement renders South Sudan. “South Sudan wants to reward the movement for the joint struggle prior to its secession.” 

He warned of a foreign agenda aimed to create rifts between the countries to abort the recent agreement. He said if foreign countries stopped interfering, the countries would be able to come to an agreement at their meeting in Khartoum. He described the Addis Ababa agreement as comprehensive but wanting mutual trust to implement it in favour of the people, especially issues related to security.


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