South Sudan Seeks East African Support

South Sudan Army
The South inflicted a swift defeat on Sudan in Heglig

The high level delegation from South Sudan has sought assistance from the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) to mediate the current crisis facing them over sharing of resources in the border area between Sudan and South Sudan.

The EALA Speaker, Mr Abdirahin Abdi, told a press conference on Friday that the South Sudan was soliciting diplomatic assistance from EALA for conclusion of the crisis that is ongoing in Africa’s newest nation. The crisis is centred on the natural resources, mostly oil, found in Abyei region formerly part of the greater Sudan, but now claimed by both Sudans.

He further said that the delegation, among other things, shared information with the EALA officials on South Sudan membership into the EAC. “Before the EALA can assist in anything, it is important that we are in the know. It is for this reason we are meeting and have been briefed about what is going on in South Sudan as well as on the membership issue and investment opportunities,” he said.

Mr Abdi said that it had been agreed that the South Sudan issue would be given priority in the budget session of the EALA meeting scheduled for May 20, this year and has considered having South Sudan in an observer capacity. He did stress, however, that it was in the best interest of the region that peaceful conclusion was derived from the ongoing skirmishes because an unstable South Sudan meant an unstable East African Community.

“The people of South Sudan have received from community members in the past, they have for years now become our family, they have lived with us and married with us,” he said. The South Sudan National Legislative Assembly Speaker, Mr James Wani Igga, after briefing journalists on the background of the on- going border conflict, and that of the pipeline, he said that they were tired of conflicts and just wanted peace.

Mr Igga praised the EAC members for the support they had given to the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) during their time in the bush. He said that the two things that brought the delegation to the EALA was about the oil issue and the border crisis that had spilled over into military conflict.

The Speaker said that prior to their July 29, 2011 independence, an agreement had been signed between South Sudan and the Sudan on the use of the pipeline that runs 1600km across the country but recently the Sudan had gone against it. Mr Igga also talked to the EALA members about fast tracking their EAC membership saying that it was only propaganda that their economy was collapsing and that they actually had a lot to offer to the community.

He explained that there were currently 10 million people in South Sudan and that apart from the rich oil reserves that covered two thirds of the country, it was endowed with 13 precious minerals including gold and diamonds. The Speaker said that South Sudan wanted the international community to take mediators to the nation and that they were ready to stop fighting and have peace talks such that a peaceful solution was got.

He said that his country was ready to go along with any resolution that the United Nations comes up with regarding the disputes on borders after the old maps had been looked into. He refuted the allegations that Uganda had committed to helping South Sudan militarily saying that as he left the country on Thursday, neither a single soldier nor a gun had arrived from Uganda and that their primary goal was peace.

As part of a 2005 peace deal that ended the north-south conflict the Blue Nile and South Kordofan got special status and provisions. However, these elements of the agreement were not completed by the time South Sudan seceded in July last year and the SPLM-N refused Khartoum’s ultimatum that the group disarms or move south of the new international border.

In April last year El Hilu, formerly the deputy governor of South Kordofan, lost elections to his NCP rival, the incumbent Ahmed Haroun who is wanted for war crimes in Darfur, in controversial circumstances. El Hilu accused Bashir’s government of carrying out genocide in the Nuba Mountains of South Kordofan during the previous civil war killing 250,000 people. The SPLM-N also blame Bashir for escalating the conflict after he came to power in a coup in 1989, declaring that the war on his own people was a holy war or “jihad”.