September 2013 Monthly Forecast

Posted 29 August 2013
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AFRICA

South Sudan and Sudan

Expected Council Action

In September, the Security Council expects to hold two meetings, likely in consultations, on Sudan-South Sudan issues.

At press time, no Council outcome was anticipated from these matters. 

Key Recent Developments

High-level international engagement to address the crisis in Sudan-South Sudan relations has continued. The AU Peace and Security Council (PSC) convened at ministerial level on 29 July in Addis Ababa to discuss the situation between the two countries. The PSC issued a communiqué in which it, inter alia:

  • endorsed the establishment of the Ad Hoc Investigative Mechanism (AIM) and the AU Border Program Technical Team (AUBP TT) to study allegations by Sudan and South Sudan that each supports rebels in the other’s territory and to determine the centre line of the Safe Demilitarised Border Zone (SDBZ), respectively;
  • urged Sudan not to suspend the transport of oil from South Sudan until the AIM and the AUBP TT have time to finalise their work;
  • recalled its earlier decision supporting the 21 September 2012 proposal of the AU High Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) on the final status of Abyei, which called for a referendum that includes the participation of the Ngok Dinka and other permanent residents of Abyei to determine whether the area belongs to Sudan or South Sudan;
  • expressed its intention to visit Abyei to demonstrate its support for the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) and the people in the area; and
  • decided to extend the mandate of AUHIP for an additional six months. 

Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Edmond Mulet briefed Council members in consultations on 7 August on Sudan-South Sudan and UNISFA. He said that SDBZ aerial reconnaissance by UNISFA had been temporarily suspended because it was the rainy season and because of fighting around Kadugli, the headquarters of the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism (JBVMM). Mulet also said that the advance team of troops providing protection to JBVMM monitors would likely be deployed by the end of August, thereby allowing the monitors and support staff to assume their Council-mandated monitoring and verification responsibilities. 

On 12 August, Sudan again extended its deadline, this time to 6 September, to shut down oil shipments from South Sudan, apparently thanks to active mediation by AUHIP Chair Thabo Mbeki. (The original 7 August deadline had already been extended to 22 August. Sudan has threatened to close oil pipelines from South Sudan because it believes that South Sudan is supporting rebels on its territory.) 

Sudan and South Sudan exchanged gunfire along the border in early August, with South Sudan claiming that it was acting in self-defence when its troops came under fire in Teskuin, a border town claimed by both countries, and alleging that Sudan crossed over the centre line of the SDBZ. (The centre line has yet to be defined to the satisfaction of both countries.) No civilian casualties were reported in this incident.

In the midst of ongoing tensions, both countries continued to face significant internal challenges. In July, Jonglei state in South Sudan was once again engulfed in inter-ethnic violence between the Lou Nuer and Murle groups. (Inter-ethnic clashes involving these groups also claimed hundreds of lives in Jonglei in late 2012 and early 2013.) According to Jongolei Boyoris, a member of the Jonglei State Assembly, more than 320 Murle, mainly women and children, died as a result of this latest outbreak of violence. The recent fighting has displaced more than 100,000 people. 

On 23 July, South Sudan President Salva Kiir dismissed all ministers and deputy ministers, appointing a new cabinet within a week. However, Kiir delayed for several weeks in appointing a new vice president, a post that was vacated when Kiir dismissed political rival Riek Machar. Finally, on 23 August, Kiir named his political ally James Wani Igga as vice president, pending approval by the parliament. Among other key appointments, Kiir named Manyang Juuk, governor of the turbulent Jonglei state, as defence minister, and Barnaba Marial Benjamin, formerly the information minister, as foreign minister. 

On 23 July, Kiir also dismissed Pagan Amum, the Secretary-General of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) and South Sudan’s chief negotiator with Sudan. In doing so, Kiir issued a decree launching an investigation of Amum for “allegedly mismanaging the affairs of the SPLM, administratively and politically” and “for exhibiting insubordination to the SPLM leadership by using the public media to discredit the SPLM and its leadership”. (In June, Amum challenged Kiir’s decision to dismiss two ministers—Kosti Manibe, the minister of finance and economic planning, and Deng Alor, the minister of cabinet affairs—amidst allegations against them of corruption.) 

In Sudan, on 31 July, Ibrahim Gandour, the official responsible for negotiations with the SPLM-N (SPLM-North) rebel group, said that direct talks with the rebels would not take place while South Sudan continues to support them, an allegation that South Sudan denies. (The SPLM-N, the former northern branch of the ruling party in South Sudan, has been fighting the government of Sudan in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states since 2011. Sudan and the SPLM-N last held face-to-face negotiations in April, but these talks made no progress.) 

In East Darfur, tensions between the Maalia and Rizeigat groups regarding land and cattle ownership deteriorated into violence. On 10 August, clashes between the two groups reportedly left 20 Maalia and 50 Rizeigat dead and dozens of people wounded. Several villages were also burned in the fighting, which continued for a number of days. On 12 August, Abdel Hamid Musa Kasha, the Rizeigat governor of East Darfur, escaped unharmed from an attack by members of the Maalia group.  

The Council held the second of its semi-monthly consultations on Sudan-South Sudan on 22 August with Haile Menkerios, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General to the AU and head of the UN Office to the AU, briefing in his capacity as Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Sudan and South Sudan. He told Council members that Kiir might visit Khartoum in early September for a summit meeting with President Omar al-Bashir.

On 23 August, the Council adopted a presidential statement (S/PRST/2013/14) focusing on Sudan-South Sudan relations and issued a press statement (SC/11103) condemning the violence in Jonglei state. The presidential statement called on Sudan and South Sudan to urgently implement the cooperation agreements of 27 September 2012, which focused on security, oil wealth sharing, trade and other issues. Ambassador Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman of Sudan and Amanuel Yoanes Ajawin of South Sudan addressed the Council after the adoption of the statement (S/PV.7022). Ali Osman accused rebels in Sudan of “terrorizing civilians,” while Ajawin expressed his country’s commitment to better relations with Sudan. The press statement on South Sudan condemned the recent violence against civilians in Jonglei state, while deploring the large scale displacement caused by these attacks and noting that South Sudan holds the primary responsibility to protect civilians (SC/11103). 

Key Issues

A key immediate issue is how to dissuade Sudan from closing oil pipelines from South Sudan, given the enormous role oil plays in the economies of both countries. 

A related issue is whether Sudan and South Sudan will fulfil their commitment to accept the findings of the AIM and AUBP TT.

An additional important issue is whether the Council can use the progress reflected by the recent issuance of its two statements as a springboard for more constructive engagement on Sudan-South Sudan matters. 

Options

Options for the Council include:

  • requesting a briefing from Mbeki on the state of relations between Sudan and South Sudan;
  • travelling to Sudan and South Sudan and meeting with key officials to signal the its commitment to improved relations between the two countries; and
  • adopting a statement in which the Council 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

The most immediate concern of Council members is the threatened shut down of oil pipelines from South Sudan. Some Council members see this threat as unwarranted brinkmanship by Sudan that erodes the potential for progress in relations between the two countries. There is likewise a sense among several members that the threatened oil shutdown should not be used by Sudan as a bargaining chip to extract concessions from South Sudan on other issues. Nonetheless, some are more sympathetic toward Sudan than others given the significant threats to its sovereignty posed by rebel groups. 

Several Council members also remain troubled by the situation in Abyei. The temporary administrative structures—the Abyei Area Council, the Abyei Area Adminstration and the Abyei Police Service—still have not been established, and discussions on the final status of Abyei have made no progress.

It appears that members demonstrated flexibility in the negotiations on the presidential statement and the press statement. It likewise has been noted that the initial draft of the presidential statement was more “neutral” than previous draft statements on Sudan-South Sudan relations on which the Council was unable to achieve consensus. Several members viewed these negotiations as constructive and were encouraged that the Council produced written outcomes after several months of gridlock.

The US is the penholder on Sudan-South Sudan issues.

UN Documents on South Sudan and Sudan

Security Council Resolutions
2 May 2012 S/RES/2046 This resolution was on Sudan-South Sudan relations.
Security Council Presidential Statements
23 August 2013 S/PRST/2013/14 The Council expressed concern about the challenges facing implementation of the 27 September 2012 agreements.
Security Council Press Statements
23 August 2013 SC/11103 This was a press statement condemning the violence in South Sudan’s Jonglei state.
Security Council Meeting Records
22 August 2013 S/PV.7022 During this meeting the council adopted a presidential statement (S/PRST/2013/14) expressing concern about the challenges facing implementation of the 27 September 2012 agreements.