AFRICANGLOBE – The short period of relative peace and mutual friendship between Sudan and South Sudan has started unravelling, with Khartoum now accusing Juba of aiding rebels and threatening previous agreements.
President Salva Kiir and his Sudan counterpart, Omar al Bashir, renewed hopes of stability between the two countries — and the region — in March, after committing themselves to an implementation matrix for previous co-operation deals signed last September in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The two leaders even tried to dispel pessimist views when President Bashir visited Juba in April to renew the message of mutual trust and cordial relations. But what was more interesting were the actions taken by the two sides.
President Bashir reportedly asked about six South Sudan rebel leaders based in Khartoum to leave. President Kiir, in a peace gesture, decided not to push the rebels to the wall and issued an amnesty to them and their forces.
Sudan freed about 300 South Sudanese prisoners who were languishing in jails for minor crimes — like brewing and selling alcohol which is forbidden under sharia law — and facilitated their return to Juba, as President Kiir agreed with President Bashir under a prisoner exchange programme.
Both sides trusted each other and resumed the oil flow, opened their borders and established a demilitarised buffer zone. When the Sudanese rebel alliance in Darfur, Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile stepped up offensives against government bases, the Sudanese army took a bold step to publicly announce that it had no evidence linking South Sudan to the offensives.
However, Sudan recently retracted its previous statement to claim that South Sudan had supported rebels in their offensives two weeks ago. Internal peace in Sudan (where rebels threaten the capital, Khartoum) and also in South Sudan (where Sudan-backed rebels took control of a strategic town in the restive Jonglei State) is once again threatened.
A lasting phase of peaceful neighbourliness between the two countries would need an end to their internal wars, particularly in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan states and South Sudan’s Jonglei.
By: Machel Amos