May 2013 Monthly Forecast

Posted 1 May 2013
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Sudan and South Sudan

Expected Council Action

In May, the Security Council is expected to hold two meetings, likely in consultations, on Sudan-South Sudan issues in accordance with resolution 2046. It will also likely discuss in consultations the UN Interim Security Force in Abyei (UNISFA) and renew its mandate, which expires on 31 May.

Key Recent Developments

Council members held consultations on Sudan/South Sudan and UNISFA on 11 April. They were briefed by UNISFA force commander and head of mission, General Yohannes Gebremeskel Tesfamariam and Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Edmond Mulet. Tesfamariam advocated for an additional 1,126 troops to provide force protection for the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism (JBVMM), reiterating the Secretary-General’s request for these troops in his recent report on Abyei (S/2013/198). Tesfamariam said that the security situation in Abyei remained challenging, in large part because of tensions between the Misseriya and the Ngok-Dinka communities. As such, he did not think that it would be possible to divert UNISFA troops currently in Abyei from their responsibilities to provide protection for the JBVMM monitors and support staff. Tesfamariam expressed concern that inadequate protection would hinder the impact of the JBVMM, cautioning that without an effective JBVMM, Sudan and South Sudan might be tempted to re-enter the Safe Demilitarised Border Zone from which they appear to have withdrawn.

Mulet said that South Sudan had resumed its production of oil and that it would be able to start exporting it through Sudan by May. He said that 23 April had been established as a date for direct talks between Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N).

Mulet also touched on the situation in South Sudan. He noted that the ambush attack in Jonglei state that claimed the lives of five peacekeepers and seven civilians on 9 April had been well-organised and included more than 200 perpetrators. He said that while the attack occurred in the area in which David Yau Yau operates, he could not confirm whether Yau Yau’s rebels were responsible. (Yau Yau has denied any role in the attack.)

On 12 April, Presidents Omar Al-Bashir of Sudan and Salva Kiir of South Sudan held a summit meeting in Juba. They reiterated their commitment to fulfilling the cooperation agreements signed on 27 September (on oil sharing, cross-border trade, security arrangements, nationality issues and other matters). In a press release following the summit, the AU said that the meeting represented the commitment of both parties “to foster the normalization of relations between the two countries and promote the well-being of their peoples.”

On 4 April, the World Food Program (WFP) announced that it had initiated food distribution in the Geissan and Kurmuk areas of South Kordofan state in Sudan, which has been greatly affected by the fighting between Sudan and the SPLM-N. WFP is hoping to distribute food to 39,000 people in Kurmuk and 12,000 in Geissan.

While Adnan Khan, WFP Sudan Country Director, referred to gaining this access as “a major breakthrough”, the SPLM-N downplayed the initiative in a statement released by its Secretary-General, Yasir Arman, on 5 April. Arman said that Sudan “allowed the WFP to work in a limited area controlled by Khartoum and they made big news out of that”. He also said that Sudan had heightened its aerial and ground attacks in the Blue Nile state during the last month and noted that Sudan “is denying access for humanitarian assistance to… areas controlled by the SPLM-N in Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains”.

Armed conflict continued in South Kordofan in April. On 12 April, the SPLM-N shelled Kadugli, killing three people and wounding ten others, according to local officials. A spokesperson for the SPLM-N, Arnu Ngutulu Lodi, said that the attack was conducted in response to aerial bombardments by Sudan on 11-12 April of areas controlled by the SPLM-N where there are displaced persons. Lodi also claimed that the SPLM-N had seized the Dandor military base near Kadugli, on 15 April. It was reported in the media that four SPLM-N rebels and 15 soldiers from Sudan died in the fighting.

Sudan and the SPLM-N met for direct negotiations on 23 April in Addis Ababa. The talks ended on 26 April without progress on the humanitarian and political issues discussed, although media reports indicate that there are plans for the parties to reconvene in May.

On 27 April, the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF), an umbrella group including several rebel movements, attacked Umm Rawaba, North Kordofan state, roughly 300 miles south of Khartoum. According to Sudan, the rebels destroyed a power plant, a communications tower, and some gas stations during the attack, which also reportedly claimed the lives of nine Sudanese policemen. The SRF withdrew from Umm Rawaba on the same day as the attack.

At press time, the Council was scheduled to hold consultations on Sudan/South Sudan on 29 April.

Key Issues

A key issue for the Council is whether the recent progress in relations between Sudan and South Sudan can be sustained and how the Council can build on this progress.

Another issue is how the Council can foster constructive negotiations between Sudan and the SPLM-N.

An additional key issue is how effective the JBVMM will be in maintaining security along the Sudan-South Sudan border, given that the border is nearly 2,000 kilometres long and the SPLM-N controls a large portion of it.


The most likely option is for the Council to renew the mandate of UNISFA for an additional six months. In doing so, the Council could consider:

  • maintaining the current force level;
  • authorising the additional 1,126 troops requested by the Secretariat; and
  • assessing the force structure of UNISFA in three months, and assuming the Council decides to increase the size of the mission, ensuring that the additional troops are essential for UNISFA to support the JBVMM. 

On Sudan-South Sudan issues generally, the Council could consider adopting a statement that:

  • recognises progress made by the parties in implementing the cooperation agreements of 27 September;
  • urges the parties to expedite the establishment of administrative structures in Abyei, including the Abyei Area Police and the Abyei Legislative Council; and
  • reiterates its decision in resolution 2046 for Sudan and the SPLM-N to negotiate a settlement on the basis of the 28 June 2011 Framework Agreement, which calls for the parties “to work towards an inclusive national process in the Republic of Sudan, aimed at constitutional reform”.
Council Dynamics

Council members are encouraged by signs of progress in relations between Sudan and South Sudan. However, the Council remains divided on how to approach Sudan-South Sudan issues. Some members hold Sudan largely accountable for its negative relations with South Sudan and are highly critical of Sudan for the humanitarian and political crisis in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states. Others take what they perceive as a more balanced approach. Among this latter group, there are concerns that a Council outcome that is too critical of Sudan could undermine rather than facilitate progress in Sudan-South Sudan relations. Since February, several attempts by the Council to negotiate a statement on Sudan-South Sudan relations have failed to achieve consensus.

The US is the penholder on UNISFA and other Sudan-South Sudan issues.

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UN Documents on Sudan and South Sudan

Security Council Resolution
2 May 2012 S/RES/2046 This resolution was on Sudan-South Sudan relations.
Secretary-General’s Report
28 March 2013 S/2013/198 This was the Secretary-General report on Abyei.
Security Council Letters
16 April 2013 S/2013/233 This was a letter from Sudan containing a statement made by Bashir during the meeting with Kiir on 12 April.
16 April 2013 S/2013/232 This was a letter from Sudan containing the joint communiqué of the meeting between Bashir and Kiir on 12 April.
Security Council Press Statement
9 April 2013 SC/10968 This was a press statement condemning the attacks on UNMISS peacekeepers.

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