Why Sudan wants to support peace in South Sudan
By Omuno Mogga Otto
While the hope for peace talks is continuing, some people are raising concerns about it. Some give positive comments while others give negative annotations. Is it good to start accusing and criticizing the process of peace talks without analyzing and considering how much our people have been suffering from the five year civil war? Would it be fair to start giving political comments before seeing the final outcome of the ongoing peace process? What is the reason of saying something at a wrong time? Why should one react at an early stage before achieving what our people wanted? Do we really want peace and unity in South Sudan? If our answer is yes, why then are we talking about things that can be easily resolved later?
On the 20th of this month, I came across a statement on Juba Monitor made by the coalition of the civil societies for natural resources on the agreement of oil exploration discussed last month between South Sudan and Sudan. It was about the recent agreement reached between South Sudan and Sudan in Khartoum on oil arrangement. The civil societies are quoted saying that, they do not want peace to be signed at the expense of resources which belongs to South Sudanese.
However, they should have also said that any agreement on resumption of oil investment by companies from Sudan should not take place before the political dispute in South Sudan is resolved. Logically, that was what would have made their statement interesting to many people. Sudan is hoping for resumption of oil field in the areas of Unity State. It could have been better for the civil society to encourage the warring parties to sign the deal first through the effort of Khartoum rather than to talk about the interest of Sudan in South Sudan resources. The issue of oil exploration is not important. What is very important is peace for the people of South Sudan so that a new dawn of economic improvement and political stability through reconciliation will arise without any problem. We should rather congratulate and encourage the effort of the Sudanese government in mediating the peace process.
The war in South Sudan is linked with the economic and diplomatic interest not only by Sudan, but also with the countries that are favoring South Sudan to remain in chaos so as to boost their interest. These are the things we should focus on. The civil society might be right to reject the way the agreement has been reached between South Sudan and Sudan on the resumption of oil in Unity State. But the civil society should at least understand that the current peace discussion in Khartoum is not only about vested interest of Sudanese government on the oil resources. It could be true to agree and say the basic aim of Sudan to support in settling political dispute in the country is opening a new chapter of trade relations between Sudan and South Sudan. A trade relation is not all about the issue of resumption of oil exploration and protection of oil field facilities. It is connected with general trade. The government of Sudan wanted to see a good political environment before serious trade relations with South Sudan begins. A good political environment will not exist if peace and forgiveness among the warring foes and the other political figures as well as traditional leaders within the country is addressed. If the government signs a peace deal, they should also convince the traditional peace broker to believe and know that the only way that will save South Sudan unity is by forgiveness and working together as South Sudanese regardless of ethnic identities. The South Sudanese elites either from civil society organization or political parties are more divided than united. After peace, there is need to organize a big peace and reconciliation conference in Juba.
I doubt whether the government and the opposition will agree to handle the oil exploration in Unity State without the overall monitoring of South Sudan government. I am sure Khartoum wanted to invest in the exploration of oil in all the parts of South Sudan. They will not be allowed to bring protection force without the approval of the South Sudan government, the opposition and civil societies. The Sudanese government is struggling to recover its economy. It will be a big political mistake if South Sudan accepts Sudan to operate its oil fields without giving a good share to the government of South Sudan.