May 2014 Monthly Forecast

Posted 1 May 2014
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AFRICA

Sudan and South Sudan

Expected Council Action

In May, Council members expect to receive their monthly briefing in consultations on Sudan-South Sudan issues. The Council is also likely to adopt a resolution renewing the mandate of the UN Interim Security Force in Abyei (UNISFA), which expires on 31 May.

Key Recent Developments

President Salva Kiir of South Sudan and President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan met in Khartoum on 5 April. It appears they discussed strategies for implementing the 27 September 2012 agreements on oil-sharing, cross-border trade, border security, nationality issues and other matters. It was also reported that they discussed how to defend the oil fields, due to heavy fighting between South Sudan and opposition forces in key oil-producing areas of Unity and Upper Nile states in South Sudan.

On 8 April, Stephen Mabek Lang, the deputy governor of Unity state, accused Sudan of “unusual movement” of troops along the border and claimed that its air force dropped 10 bombs on the town of Panyang. Sudan has denied the allegations.

On 6 April, Bashir officially launched a national dialogue at the National Political Parties Summit in Khartoum, which was attended by representatives of 83 political parties. AU Commission Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma issued a press release on 9 April welcoming the official commencement of the national dialogue. Also on 9 April, Bashir declared that political parties would be allowed to conduct public meetings and be accorded media access on equal footing. Meanwhile, the National Consensus Forces, an umbrella group of opposition parties, and the Sudan Revolutionary Front, which consists of several rebel groups, have continued to denounce the conditions under which the national dialogue is taking place. They believe that it needs to be administered by an independent entity and result in a transitional government that will oversee a process leading to a new constitution and democratic elections. 

On 10 April, Haile Menkerios, head of the UN Office to the AU and Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan, briefed Council members in consultations via videoconference from Addis Ababa. He updated them on recent developments with respect to the national dialogue process in Sudan and reported that Sudan and South Sudan continued to maintain a military presence in the disputed Abyei region. 

The Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) claimed on 21 April that it had inflicted heavy casualties while fighting rebels in South Kordofan state. The Sudan People’s Liberation Army/Movement-North (SPLA/M-N) rebel group, for its part, claimed that the recent military campaign in South Kordofan had displaced 70,000 people and that Sudan continued to carry out aerial bombardments on civilians. 

Sudan and the SPLM-N reconvened their face-to-face negotiations in Addis Ababa on 22 April after the last round of talks was suspended in early March due to major differences between the parties. (The two sides disagree over the framework of the negotiations, with the SPLM-N believing that its grievances should be addressed within a national context and the government preferring to focus specifically on the conflict in South Kordofan and Blue Nile.) Thabo Mbeki, chair of the AU High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP), which is mediating the talks, reiterated the importance of achieving a cessation of hostilities to allow for the delivery of humanitarian assistance, especially in SPLM-N-controlled territory.  

Key Issues

One key issue for the Council is what role it can play in supporting the talks between Sudan and the SPLM-N.  

Another key issue is ensuring that the challenging security situation in Abyei does not escalate into large-scale violence, given the ongoing tensions between the Misseriya and Ngok-Dinka communities in the region and the presence of forces from both Sudan and South Sudan there.

Also an important issue is how the Council chooses to approach the national dialogue process in Sudan. 

Options

The most likely option is for the Council to adopt a resolution renewing the mandate of UNISFA for an additional six months. In doing so, the Council may choose to reiterate its demand that Sudan and South Sudan withdraw from Abyei, as their military presence there contravenes resolutions 1990 and 2046. 

The Council may also decide to issue a statement that welcomes the resumption of negotiations between Sudan and the SPLM-N.    

Another option is for Council members to host an “Arria-formula” meeting with opposition and civil society figures from Sudan to get their perspectives on the national dialogue process. 

Council Dynamics

While several Council members are encouraged that relations between Sudan and South Sudan have not suffered serious setbacks of late, they remain concerned about a number of ongoing challenges. The situation in Abyei, especially considering the presence of military forces from both Sudan and South Sudan in the region and the ongoing inter-communal tensions there, could be a flashpoint for a conflict between the two countries. Some members also appear keen to ensure that the fighting and related humanitarian crisis in South Kordofan and Blue Nile, which began nearly three years ago, remains a focus of the Council’s attention. The recent allegations by South Sudan that Sudan was responsible for aerial bombardments in Panyang also appears to have been raised by a number of members at the 10 April consultations. 

Council members view the national dialogue process as a positive development, although some members appear more optimistic than others regarding the government’s intentions in initiating the dialogue. 

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

 UN Documents on Sudan and South Sudan

Security Council Resolution
2 May 2012 S/RES/2046 This resolution provided a roadmap for Sudan, South Sudan and the SPLM-N to resolve outstanding issues and threatened Article 41 measures. 
Security Council Press Statement
17 March 2014 SC/11321 This concerned the volatile security situation in Abyei and the AUHIP-mediated talks between Sudan and the SPLM-N.
Secretary-General’s Report
25 February 2014 S/2014/126 This was a report of the Secretary-General on UNISFA.