What's In Blue

Sudan and South Sudan Consultations and Presidential Statement

Council members are scheduled to hold their bimonthly consultations on Sudan and South Sudan tomorrow (23 August), in accordance with resolution 2046. Haile Menkerios, Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Sudan and South Sudan, is expected to brief with Edmond Mulet, Assistant-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping, also participating. At press time, a draft presidential statement that had been under negotiation since after Council members held consultations on Sudan and South Sudan on 9 August, was still under discussion. It is unclear, however, when the Council will be ready to adopt the statement.

A number of issues may be raised in the consultations. Council members may be interested in learning more about the agreement that Sudan and South Sudan reached earlier this month regarding oil and other financial arrangements. In particular, it remains unclear how this agreement would be implemented and also how committed the parties are to its implementation. Sudan has said that it wants security issues to be addressed first, while South Sudan has noted that it had been pressured to accept the agreement by some international actors.

A further matter that may be raised is the status of plans to create a buffer zone between Sudan and South Sudan. Creation of this zone has been hindered by Sudan’s reluctance to accept a map that the AU has proposed as the basis for negotiations on the parameters of the zone. Khartoum is apparently concerned that using the map could prejudice future deliberations on border demarcation.

An additional issue that may be of interest to Council members is the question of humanitarian access to South Kordofan and Blue Nile. During the Council’s consultations on 9 August, Menkerios apparently indicated that a recently formed tripartite committee (made up of the AU, the UN, and the Arab League) would submit an action plan to Sudan for the provision of aid and there may be interest in hearing more on this.

Council members may also wish to learn more about the work of the Panel of Experts that the parties have apparently established to develop non-binding recommendations on the status of five disputed areas along the Sudan-South Sudan border.
Other issues that could be raised tomorrow include the continued presence of Sudanese oil police in Abyei in violation of resolution 2046, the challenges of establishing the Abyei Area Administration and Police Service, the status of citizens on both countries living on the other’s side of the border, and future steps in negotiations between the parties.

Some Council members may also bring up issues that have arisen during negotiations on the draft presidential statement. Council members appear committed to ensuring that the parties adhere to the obligations imposed on them by resolution 2046. It seems that the draft recalls the 2 August deadline imposed by the Council for the parties to resolve the issues separating them and expresses regret that these matters have not been addressed. However, it appears that there have been a number of concerns raised that have delayed finalisation of the presidential statement, including how to characterise Sudan’s unwillingness to accept the AU map. Some members were more comfortable with the use of critical language than others.

Another area of difficulty appears to have been proposed language suggesting that the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement – North (SPLM-N), (the rebel group that was the northern branch of the ruling party in Juba before South Sudan became independent in July 2011), should negotiate “without preconditions”. This could indicate that the SPLM-N should drop its request to be recognised as a legitimate political party in Sudan. It seems some members felt that the call to negotiate “without preconditions” should be directed to both the SPLM-N and Sudan but others are of the view that this would be unfair to Sudan as it is not placing conditions on the negotiations.

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