The Sudanese Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok in an exclusive interview by Juba Monitor
“We aspire to a relationship where the visa canceled and the right to citizenship is granted to South Sudanese because they contributed in building the Sudan “.
The Sudanese Prime Minister, Dr. Abdallah Hamdok declared that the relation between Juba and Khartoum shall overcome wishes to a more practical steps aiming to strengthen the historical ties between the peoples of the two countries by opening the borders, facilitating communal trade, and canceling entrance visa.
He further noted that he will discuss with his cabinet the possibilities of granting South Sudan citizens the right of dualcitizenship due to the role they played in developing and building Sudan before separation in 2011.
He noted that his recent visit to Juba was to discuss several issues related to borders, trade and oil, noting that the meetings compiled by President Salva Kiir and his cabinet were in great spirit and understanding.
He added: “We do not have red lines; we shall discuss all the issues with an open mind taking into account the interests of the two peoples in reaching a decision to facilitate the movement without any obstacle through the borders and resuming communal trade between the two countries.”
Qn: A part from the emotional rhetoric that the peoples of the two countries are one country, why did you choose Juba to be your first official foreign visit destination?
Why do you consider that an emotional rhetoric? It is a strategic relation despite the historical circumstances which led to separation. We can’t modify history, but we have the power to address the future, we aspire to a unique relationship as we are for sure one people in two countries. It is not a matter of coincidence that the two states kept the word Sudan. South Sudanese could have picked a different name, but they chose to keep Sudan clanged to the new state. This symbolic factor reveals to what extent we are limitlessly bond together. We believe the revolution that took place in Sudan is a profound one and its slogans (Liberty, Peace, and Justice) speak to all these issues.
Qn: What is the future expectation concerning the relation between the two countries after this visit?
Firstly, we expect to take practical measures to move from the stage of emotion and slogans to practical issues, to make this distinguished relationship meet the common interests of our people on both sides. This includes; discussing freedom of movement between the two countries and cancelling Visas completely when moving from one part of Sudan to the other, we may use identity cards for instance. Personally, I opt to discuss more than that. We shall discuss them back in Sudan. My suggestion is granting our brothers and sisters in South Sudan the right to dual citizenship without demanding a condition, a similar procedure from South Sudan, as southern Sudanese back then, played pivotal roles in state building in the Sudan. We were one country, so we should not put any obstacles to movement between the two states, secondly, the trade. We share the longest border compared to other surrounding countries, about 2.200 kilometers which t is not easy to control. Instead of keeping it a source of disputes and conflicts, it should be used to boost development, especially when considering the fact that this area which links Sudan to South Sudan, from Umdafugg in the border with Central Africa to Kurmuk in the border with Ethiopia, is the richest area in the region, producing oil with 100% capacity besides agriculture and livestock, a quite huge potentials for manufacturing and development.
Qn: Those are the viewpoints from the Sudanese delegation, what is Juba’s stand regarding the discussed issues?
I met President Salva Kiir and the ministers had meetings with their counterparts. The same spirit characterized the joint meeting between President Salva Kiir and our delegation. The President shares the same moral and vision on how to strengthen the relations between the two countries.
Qn: What about the agreement between Juba and the former regime in Sudan in which exorbitant fees are given by South Sudan to use the Sudanese territory (for oil export), is renegotiation possible?
We instructed the concerned authorities to and discuss this issue. Raising this matter wasn’t possible in our joint meeting with the President. We are going to address all these issues in details keeping in mind the common interests of the people in the two countries. There shall be no red lines as the matters are surly going to be discussed.
Qn: Keeping in mind the existing of the deep state in Khartoum, do you thing think it is possible to implement your strategy towards South Sudan?
We have a political will and we believe the revolution created conducive atmosphere to resolve all the outstanding matters. Challenges are not to be underestimated, though we shall do what it takes to get things right. If we succeed in stopping war with the support of South Sudan, peace will be a prime mover in meeting our agenda as including political forces in governing Sudan will support the revolution, give it a new momentum and ability to keep producing itself.
QN: What is expected if the peace efforts by the Government of South Sudan and President Kiir fail?
We have two options, either to succeed or succeed, we have no other option. I don’t mean to underestimate the challenges, but we believe that there was no possibility in our ancient history to address the main issue in Sudan as today. Though the state was ill-structuralized and centralized, now we are facing a new reality that seeks to reorganize this issue. We are now reassured that all the difficulties and challenges can be overcome.
Qn: Is Juba qualified to mediate the Sudan peace process?
Certainly yes, Juba has relations with all the armed movements. There is not a single capital in the world that has special relations with all movements like Juba. The proof is their existence today. I do not think there is city where you can find the Revolutionary Front members sitting with the leader Abdul Aziz Al-Hilo. This is a privileged condition provided by Juba that we want to build on and achieve what we failed to do over the years.
Qn: As for the peace process, Juba has recently appointed a governmental committee of mediators. When will the Sudanese government name its delegation?
We singed Juba Declaration which most of its terms are related to confidence-building measures. A roadmap was set for October 14 as the beginning of the negotiation and we shall name our delegation and form peace commission by then.
Qn: What is your message to the people of South Sudan in this visit, what have you found satisfactory on the street?
I’m more comfortable because I feel my presence. Second, my sense of satisfaction is unusual and happy sense of the citizen in South Sudan. This is something very natural, and I’m in this touch not dealing with emotions, the fact that we are one people present in the two states, and we want to build on this. We have developed the relationship between the two countries to prevent as in the development and sustainable democracy in responding to all the beautiful things we can achieve for our people.
Qn: When will the border be opened to trade between the two countries?
We have agreed on six paths to be opened for trade immediately.
Qn: You visited the late Dr. John Garang’s tomb at the end of your visit, is there any message on that?
I visited his tomb. He is a lost to the two countries. His vision and historical role would have changed the political arena for good. The only consolation now is the vision of a new Sudan will remain the torch which will lead us in the path of achievement in our region.