Sudan and South Sudan
Expected Council Action
In June, the Security Council is expected to hold two meetings on Sudan-South Sudan issues, likely in consultations, in accordance with resolution 2046. At press time, it was unclear whether there would be an outcome to the Council’s deliberations on these issues.
Key Recent Developments
Kuol Deng Kuol, the Ngok-Dinka paramount chief in Abyei, was shot and killed on 4 May in Abyei by members of the Misseriya community. Hervé Ladsous, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping, briefed Council members about the incident on 6 May in consultations. (The meeting, which had not been on the programme of work, was called for on 4 May, given the severity of the incident.) He said that Kuol had been travelling from a meeting of the Abyei Joint Oversight Committee escorted by UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) peacekeepers, when the convoy was stopped by members of the Misseriya community, who demanded that the Ngok-Dinka be separated from the convoy. A tense standoff lasting several hours ensued, and when it looked as though the situation had been diffused, a shot was fired by one of the Misseriya, killing the paramount chief and sparking additional gunfire. In addition to the death of Kuol, Ladsous indicated one UNISFA peacekeeper was killed and three others were injured, but he was unable to confirm reports that 17 Misseriya lost their lives in the clash.
On the same afternoon as their meeting with Ladsous, Council members issued a press statement condemning the attack, calling on the parties in Abyei to exercise maximum restraint and reiterating support for UNISFA.
Speaking at the media stakeout on 9 May, Ambassador Francis Deng (South Sudan) said that the incident that led to the death of Kuol was not an isolated one. He said that recently there had been several reports of killings, cattle-raiding and burning of villages by armed Misseriya in Ngok-Dinka areas of Abyei. Noting that some of these attacks had occurred in the presence of UNISFA troops or had been reported to them, Deng added that UNISFA’s mandate to protect civilians needed to be reinforced. In particular, he noted that the mission should be protecting civilians from all armed groups, not just those in uniform.
On 9 May, Haile Menkerios, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Sudan and South Sudan, briefed Council members in consultations via videoconference. He said that the UN, Sudan and South Sudan would jointly conduct an investigation into the killing of Kuol and release a public report, although he did not indicate a timeframe for the investigation. He also expressed concern over the tensions in Abyei between the Ngok-Dinka and the Misseriya communities and said that Sudan and South Sudan had yet to establish the Abyei area institutions—the Abyei Council, Abyei Police Force and the Abyei administration. In addition to discussing Abyei, Menkerios also indicated that more than 30,000 civilians had been displaced by the incursion of the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF), an umbrella group including several rebel movements, into North Kordofan state in Sudan in late April.
In mid-May, the National Assembly, the lower chamber of Sudan’s bicameral legislature, went on recess for a week so that its members could return home and organise youth to assist the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) in their war effort against the SRF. On 20 May, the Council of States, the upper chamber, also adjourned to allow its members to travel to their home areas and mobilise support for the fight against the rebels. The Council of States was not expected to reconvene until 3 June.
In South Sudan, fighting continued between the army of South Sudan, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), and the rebel movement led by David Yau Yau. In early May, the rebels seized Boma, a town in Jonglei state. (It is unclear how many casualties resulted from this attack.) On 19 May, the SPLA regained control of Boma. Philip Aguer, a spokesman for the SPLA, said that four SPLA troops and 12 rebels died in the fighting.
In a separate incident in South Sudan, cattle rustlers from Jonglei state crossed into neighbouring Unity State, and on 18 May, raided a village in Nasir county, killing 23 of the inhabitants and stealing more than 2,000 cattle.
On 23 May, President Salva Kiir of South Sudan said that he would not accept the ICC, claiming that the court has been used to “humiliate” African leaders. The remarks came in the midst of a visit to South Sudan by President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, who has been indicted by the ICC.
In spite of progress in implementing agreements on oil and security arrangements, tensions resurfaced between Sudan and South Sudan in May. On 11 May, Sudan accused South Sudan of providing assistance to SRF forces that attacked Um Rawaba town in North Kordofan state, alleging that South Sudan gave fuel to the SRF and provided refuge to wounded rebels in hospitals in South Sudan. When there was a temporary disruption of the flow of oil through a pipeline into Sudan starting on 17 May, South Sudan initially suspected that Sudan closed the pipeline according to comments made by a foreign ministry spokesperson. However, Sudan denied the allegation and claimed that a technical problem had resulted in the disruption.
On 27 May, the SAF recovered Abu Kershola, a town in South Kordofan that the SRF had seized in late April, allegedly inflicting heavy casualties on the SRF according to Sudan. However, the SRF claimed that it withdrew from the town because an economic blockade on Abu Kershola by Sudan was causing great suffering to the civilian population there. Speaking in Khartoum after the retaking of the town, Sudan’s President Omar Al-Bashir said that he would halt the movement of oil from South Sudan through Sudan if the former supported rebels in Sudan.
Edmond Mulet, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, briefed Council members in consultations on UNISFA and Sudan-South Sudan relations on 23 May. He expressed concern about the tensions between the Ngok-Dinka and the Misseriya and the killing of the paramount chief, adding that UNISFA was on a heightened state of alert and was intensifying its ground patrols. Mulet said that UNISFA continued its aerial monitoring of the border and that it would soon be able to conduct ground patrols as part of the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism (JBVMM), assuming that the Council authorises additional troops to provide protection to monitors and support staff when it renews UNISFA’s mandate.
On 29 May, the Council adopted resolution 2104 extending the mandate of UNISFA until 30 November 2013. The resolution authorises a troop ceiling of 5,326 troops, as requested by the parties and by the Secretary-General. The original ceiling was 4,200 troops. However, the Secretary-General noted in his 28 March report on UNISFA that an additional 1,126 troops would be needed to provide protection to monitors and support staff who will serve in the JBVMM along the Sudan-South Sudan border (S/2013/198). The new mandate also calls for a review of the mission’s force composition and posture in 120 days.
The key issue for the Council is how to ensure that Sudan and South Sudan overcome recent tensions and build on the positive momentum generated by the resumption of oil production and the progress in establishing the JBVMM.
Another key issue is the inter-communal violence between the Ngok-Dinka and the Misseriya communities in Abyei and how UNISFA can strengthen its efforts to protect civilians.
A related issue is the fact that Sudan and South Sudan have yet to establish the Abyei area institutions. According to the most recent Secretary-General’s report on UNISFA, the lack of these institutions “continue[s] to undermine efforts to stabilise the security and humanitarian situation.”
Another key issue is how the internal security situations in Sudan and South Sudan impact relations between the two countries. Both countries accuse one another of supporting rebels on their respective sides of the border.
Also a key issue is the ongoing conflict and related humanitarian crisis in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states and the limited access to these areas to help civilians in need.
Options for the Council include:
- inviting AU High Level Implementation Panel Chair Thabo Mbeki, who last briefed the Council on 27 March, for an informal interactive dialogue to get his perspective on the status of (and next steps in) the negotiations between Sudan and South Sudan;
- requesting a briefing from Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos, who visited Sudan from 20-23 May, on the humanitarian situation in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states and the prospects for improved humanitarian access to these two areas; and
- adopting a statement that reiterates the need for the parties to continue to engage in constructive negotiations.
Council members are encouraged that Sudan and South Sudan have begun to implement agreements on oil and border security. There is likewise widespread hope among members that the parties can continue to build on this constructive momentum.
With respect to Abyei, several members remain concerned at the recent inter-communal violence between the Misseriya and Ngok-Dinka communities. In this respect, there is widespread agreement among Council members on the need to demilitarise the Abyei area and to establish the Abyei area institutions.
While several members believe that the twice-per-month meetings on Sudan-South Sudan matters are an effective way of maintaining the Council’s attention on this challenging issue, some seem to advocate for a reduction in the frequency of these meetings, believing that the Council risks “micromanaging” the situation with the current schedule of meetings.
The US is the penholder on Sudan-South Sudan issues.
UN Documents on Sudan and South Sudan
|Security Council Resolutions|
|29 May 2013 S/RES/2104||This resolution extended UNISFA’s mandate until 30 November 2013 and authorised a troop ceiling of 5,326 troops.|
|2 May 2012 S/RES/2046||This resolution was on Sudan-South Sudan relations.|
|17 May 2013 S/2013/294||This was a report on Abyei.|
|Security Council Press Statements|
|6 May 2013 SC/10997||This was a press statement that condemned the attack in Abyei that claimed the life of Kuol Deng Kuol.|