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Sudan: Post-Referendum Issues

AfricaFocus Bulletin
Oct 14, 2010 (101014)
(Reposted from sources cited below)

Editor's Note

"It is in our interest to see that the North remains a viable state, just as it should be in the interests of the North to see Southern Sudan emerge a viable one too. The North is our neighbour, it shares our history, and it hosts our brothers and sisters. Moreover, I have reiterated several times in my speeches in the past that even if Southern Sudan separates from the North it will not shift to the Indian Ocean or to the Atlantic Coast!" - Sudanese First Vice President Salva Kiir

With less than 100 days to the scheduled referenda on Southern Sudan and on the border area of Abyei on January 9, 2011, the primary focus is understandably on ensuring that the referendum is held and that threats of new war are avoided. But with Southern Sudanese widely expected to vote overwhelmingly for independence, the prospects for peace will also depend on much quieter negotiations under way on post-independence issues. Whatever the legal status of Southern Sudan will be, the fates of North and South will be deeply intertwined, and will depend on reaching practical agreements on such issues as division of oil revenues, citizenship, and borders.

This AfricaFocus Bulletin contains excerpts from two documents related to post-referendum issues, an October 1 speech by Sudanese First Vice President Salva Kiir, and a blog post summarizing a September 2010 report by Wolfram Lacher of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs. Kiir's full speech is available at and Lacher's blog entry, with a link to a pdf of the full report, is available on the Making Sense of Sudan blog at

Other recent reports of interest on Sudan, with relevant analysis and background, include the following:

Africa Confidential, Sudan: A New York Divorce
October 12, 2010

Amnesty International
Agents of Fear: The National Security Service in Sudan
July 19,2010

Ecumenical Delegation of Sudanese Religious Leaders at UN October 13, 2010

International Crisis Group
Defining the North-South Border
September 2, 2010

Sudan Tribune
North-South talks over Abyei referendum fail, new round scheduled,
October 13, 2010

For previous AfricaFocus Bulletins on Sudan, visit

++++++++++++++++++++++end editor's note++++++++++++++++++++

Speech by Gen Salva Kiir Mayardit on his return from the USA

October 1, 2010 Direct URL:

Gen Salva Kiir Mayardit, First Vice President of the Republic of the Sudan and President of the Government of Southern Sudan


As we get closer to the zero hour of the Interim period, our commitment is that the exercise of the right to self-determination must take place on time January 9th, 2011. This is the bottom line and a hard won right whose ultimate price is more than 4 million lives lost during the long two civil wars since independence in 1956.

This has been my message everywhere during my recent visit be it to the Congressional Black Caucus, at the United States Institute for Peace (USIP), the UN International Peace Institute (IPI), the UN High-Level Meeting on Sudan, to the Sudanese Diaspora and the media. ...

The CPA (Comprehensive Peace Agreement) remains the vital foundation of peace today, and will remain so in the months ahead. ...

Today, we are left with less than 100 days to reach the vital moment in the history of the CPA, the Referendum. This is an extraordinary moment in the history of Africa. We must not let the enemies of peace and spoilers to disrupt the forthcoming momentous event. We must be realistic and clear-sighted about what lies ahead of us. The referendum is a golden opportunity when Southern Sudanese and the people of Abyei will make an informed choice of either unity of the Sudan or secession. Therefore, I urge all Southern Sudanese eligible voters to register en masse in order to decide the fate of their existence come January 9th, 2011.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Over the last 5 years, it has become clear that unity has not been made an option for our people. Our partners in the North showed very little interest or activity to make unity a realistic proposition. At the moment, all signs point to the fact that on January 9th, 2011 Southern Sudanese people will vote overwhelmingly for independence. This is what I told the international community in New York and throughout the United States that we must together prepare for this eventuality.

We have been moving heaven and earth to ensure that the necessary referenda in Southern Sudan and Abyei should take place correctly and on time but there have also been worrying signs of foot-dragging from our partners in the North. I would like to make it clear and sundry that no disruption or delay to these referenda can be tolerated.


Critically important is that the referenda take place on time, as stipulated in the CPA. Delay or denial of the right of self-determination for the people of Southern Sudan and Abyei risks dangerous instability. There is without question a real risk of a return to violence on a massive scale if the referenda do not go ahead as scheduled.


Once the vote for self-determination has taken place, different challenges will emerge. Here again, we will need the leadership of peace loving peoples of the world, particularly the guarantors of the CPA, to ensure a peaceful transition. It will be vital that the international community respect its stated commitment to accept the results, and help the parties make the necessary arrangements for a new situation to emerge.

As we prepare for the referendum, we have also begun negotiations on post-referendum issues. The Government of Southern Sudan has approached these negotiations with seriousness and good intentions. We are genuinely willing to negotiate with our brothers in the North, and are prepared to work in a spirit of partnership to create sustainable relations between Northern and Southern Sudan for the long-term. It is in our interest to see that the North remains a viable state, just as it should be in the interests of the North to see Southern Sudan emerge a viable one too. The North is our neighbour, it shares our history, and it hosts our brothers and sisters. Moreover, I have reiterated several times in my speeches in the past that even if Southern Sudan separates from the North it will not shift to the Indian Ocean or to the Atlantic Coast!

We will strive to be good neighbors by building good relations and peace between the people of Northern and Southern Sudan. We will develop trade and economic relations on the basis of equality and mutual benefit. We will negotiate post-referendum issues fairly and consistent with international law. We will work to preserve and enhance the livelihoods of all Sudanese people, including those depending on traditional migrations across the North/South border.

Distinguished Compatriots,

I would like to particularly point out a number of issues of well-known concern: The first is oil, where everybody seems to think that in order for Southern Sudan to become an independent state, it must give up most of its oil reserves to the North. Now where is justice here? The North has been sharing with us the oil from the South while having exclusive utilization of revenues from northern oil turn out. We should have mutually agreed for a formula that is satisfactory to all so that our populations should have equal economic benefits from the oil sector.

That notwithstanding, we believe that there is a very real opportunity to demonstrate how two states can work together cooperatively to bring economic prosperity to both of their nations in the event of secession. To this end, we have recently agreed with the NCP for a full independent audit of Sudan's petroleum sector along with the publication of daily production figures in order to promote an atmosphere of trust and accountability between North and South.

The second particular and critical issue is citizenship - we would like the safety and rights of Southerners in the North and safety and rights of Northerners in the South, as well as for the peoples who have traditionally travelled through the border areas, to be fully protected. On our side, we are committed to provide and guarantee adequate security for all Sudanese in a manner that respects the rule of law and the rights and freedoms of all individuals, no matter what their tribe, origin, religion, or ethnicity. We look for a reciprocal commitment from our brothers in the North.

The third is the pressing issue of Abyei, where stability now and in the future depends. I urge our partners to implement the Permanent Court of Arbitration's (PCA) decision, which Khartoum claims to have accepted, but where there has been continual delay. We do not want Abyei to become the potential trigger for conflict to reignite again between the South and the North. The SPLM and the NCP will be meeting in Addis Ababa this weekend and I hope that a final solution should be found for the implementation of the Abyei Protocol. I mentioned it before and I will repeat again that there is no reverse to war because of the lack of implementation of the Abyei Protocol. Ya jama, I am not a coward but it is only those who have not tested the anguish of war who can still drill for it. I promise you that it will not be easy if war breaks out again for it could lead to the total dismembering of the country. Therefore let us all work for peaceful divorce so that we can still afford smiling at one another whenever mutual business brings us together. I know that the media is also fueling the situation and bad media has often attempted to speak on behalf of the leaders of the NCP and the SPLM. They have done this several times by misquoting both the NCP and the SPLM leaders including putting words in President Bashir's mouth and my mouth too. We will surmount any attempts to trigger war again!


We must also be realistic about these negotiations because it is unlikely that we will agree on all aspects of the post-referendum arrangements before January 9th, 2011. We will work hard to get as far as possible. But the timing of the referendum is sacrosanct and is not contingent on the conclusion of any post-referendum negotiations, including over the border, as the CPA itself makes it clear. Elsewhere, referenda have successfully been held even when borders were not completely resolved and why should Southern Sudan be different?


We are committed to sustainable peace and stability irrespective of the outcome of the referendum. We have achieved a lot in the past few years since the CPA was signed, but we still have a lot of work before us after the referendum. We are committed to establishing transparent and accountable government consistent with the requirements of statehood. We will uphold democratic principles and guarantee all kinds of freedom for all our diverse communities.


Sudan: Negotiating Southern Independence: High Stakes in the Talks on Post-referendum Arrangements

Wolfram Lacher

Wolfram Lacher is a researcher on Sudan and the Horn of Africa at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs.

Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik
German Institute for International and Security Affairs

[posting on]

The ruling parties in northern and southern Sudan, as well as international actors in Sudan currently are almost exclusively focussed on the referendum on southern independence. Given the delays to the referendum timetable and the ongoing war of words between the NCP and SPLM, this is not surprising. Nevertheless, the almost exclusive focus on the January vote threatens to divert attention away from the negotiations underway between the NCP and SPLM on post-referendum arrangements. Whether the parties are able to progress and strike viable deals in these negotiations is of crucial importance for the referendum and the associated potential for conflict. In my briefing, Negotiating Southern Independence: High stakes in the talks on post-referendum arrangements ( I argue that deals could be based on existing interdependencies between north and south. Regardless of the referendum's outcome, an expansion of north-south relations based on these interdependencies would provide the best options for stability - but close and stable relations between the two states are particularly important if (as is most likely) the south becomes independent.

North-south negotiations began in July and have since been taking place behind closed doors, excluding external observers or mediators. The parties may resort to the mediation of the African Union High Level Implementation Panel for Sudan (AUHIP), led by former South African President Thabo Mbeki, or employ the expertise of external consultants, but to date have hardly used these options. Little is known about their progress to date - partly because the talks are in their infancy on many points, partly because both parties have largely kept quiet thus far. As both sides and external actors are all occupied with the referendum itself, the talks are unlikely to be well-advanced by the date of the vote (i.e. 9 January 2011, according to the current schedule); moreover, it is questionable whether the two parties will have reached compromises on all key issues by the end of the CPA interim period on 15 July 2011 (when southern independence would become effective). The more protracted the talks are, the more likely is the emergence of conflicts between the two sides or their proxies in the run-up and aftermath of the referendum. Destabilising tactics and proxy warfare (such as through tribal militias and other armed groups) have long been part of both sides' repertoire in negotiations, meaning that the risk of increasing instability is associated not only with the possibility of southern secession as such, but also part of the negotiations themselves. Contentious points and possible solutions

The negotiations are structured into four areas, each of which is covered by a working group comprising representatives of both parties: Citizenship; Security; Economic, Financial and Natural Resources; as well as International Treaties and Legal Issues. Key negotiating points include an arrangement to divide up oil export revenues; the rights and duties of citizens across the common border (including rights of residence, work, trade and land use); the currency and national debt; water; and security arrangements. In addition, two issues that are not part of the negotiations in this context are nevertheless of major importance for future north-south relations: the delineation of the common border, and the status of Abyei.

There are a number of opportunities to stabilise the difficult relations between the two future states in the critical first few years after the referendum, by drawing on existing interdependencies. The arrangement whereby revenues from oil produced in the south were shared equally between the central and southern governments was perhaps the single most important factor behind the CPA's success to date, as both sides had a vested interest in continuing the agreement. There is an opportunity to establish a mutually beneficial arrangement for the post-referendum era that could play a similarly stabilising role as its equivalent in the CPA. The necessity of such an arrangement is clear to both sides, not least because the southern government currently has no other option. Until the viability of an alternative southern export pipeline is established, an arrangement between the two sides will be primarily a question of how significant the northern share of southern oil revenue will be, and the method by which it will be calculated. This is not to say that there is no potential for conflict on this point: should either side use the instruments of pressure available in this area - such as a temporary export blockage by the north - this could potentially trigger war.

Another case in point are the rights and duties of northern and southern citizens on the other side of the common border. The central government has begun to exert pressure by threatening to expel southern Sudanese living in the north following southern independence. On the other hand, southward migration by northern groups is more developed than vice versa, including for cattle-herding Arab nomads (Baggara), who are an important constituency for the NCP. This strengthens the southern government's negotiating position. Moreover, the regulation of southerners' residence rights in the north will be linked to those of northern traders in the south. To increase the chances of a relatively stable transition to southern independence, the central and southern governments would have to build on these existing interdependencies to strengthen their bilateral relations, rather than trying to outdo each other in restricting access for the other state's citizens. The more complicated - but ultimately more stable - solution would be a 'soft' border. This would require the detailed regulation of northern and southern citizens' rights and duties on the other side of the border, given that unregulated migration and land use would be a recipe for conflict between local groups. An agreement on an open border with clear rules for cross-border movements would help stabilise north-south relations. An expansion of infrastructure linking the two future states could further bolster such a border regime.

These points are also relevant to the Abyei dispute, which is not part of the negotiations on post-referendum arrangements as such. The preparations for the Abyei referendum have experienced even more delays than the independence referendum, and the criteria for voter eligibility are fiercely contested. As a result, doubts are growing whether the vote will be held on time, and the Abyei dispute is increasingly becoming a negotiating point. In September, the NCP suggested that the Abyei referendum should be cancelled and the area should be turned into a demilitarised zone whose residents would have dual nationality. The SPLM has rejected the proposal, not least because it would represent a departure from one of the key components of the CPA, and therefore could ultimately raise questions about the independence referendum itself. Nevertheless, a negotiated solution would offer an opportunity to defuse the Abyei dispute. The Abyei referendum would be very likely to lead to violence in the region. The conflict not only has a national dimension (related to the oilfields located in Abyei) but is particularly explosive at the local level, where the rights to residency and land use of two groups are at stake - the Ngok Dinka (a key constituency for the SPLM) and the Misseriya (a Baggara tribe). The only stable solution would be one where the rights of both groups are guaranteed, regardless of whether Abyei becomes part of the north or the south.

A common currency could form another stabilising link after southern secession. Given that oil revenues are a fundamental factor for both states' budgets, the Sudanese Pound could conceivably be used as a common currency. The question then becomes how the influence of each side on the institution responsible for monetary policy (the Central Bank of Sudan) would be regulated. From the central government's perspective, a common currency would have to be backed up by mechanisms controlling fiscal policy in both states, as a fiscal or current account crisis in the south could destabilise the currency. The alternative solution - less attractive from the viewpoint of north-south relations, but currently favoured by the SPLM leadership - would be a temporary dollarisation of the southern economy.

There are a number of negotiating points where no obvious interdependencies exist, such as on the question of Sudan's external debt, or on security arrangements. Nevertheless, there are opportunities for external actors to support compromises and function as guarantors of a wider north-south arrangement. With regard to Sudan's external debt, for example, the central government will seek to hand part of its this debt over to the south in the event of secession. The SPLM strongly rejects this. Donor states have two basic options in this regard: either to initiate a multilateral debt relief addressing the entirety of old Sudanese debt (regardless of its repartition between north and south) or to apply such relief only to that part of the debt passed on to the southern government in the negotiations. The first option, planned as a process lasting several years, could have a major stabilising impact on north-south relations, by significantly increasing Western donors' leverage over the central government.

Admittedly, an expansion of bilateral relations in parallel to the secession process will require significant effort - particularly for the south, which has already begun to strengthen its ties with its southern and eastern neighbours, as well as Western donors (particularly the United States). The SPLM, as a former rebel group that continues to be deeply suspicious of Khartoum, will likely seek to contain northern influence in order to assert the sovereignty of the emerging southern state. Conversely, the NCP is likely to see existing ties between the two states primarily as an opportunity to maintain and exploit its dominant position vis-…-vis the south. Both tactics run counter to the stabilising impact that close interdependence could have. Finally, there is a danger that too close relations between the two states could have a destabilising impact if the south is too exposed to Khartoum's influence through its dependence on the northern oil export infrastructure, trade and currency.

Ultimately, the compromises necessary for close and stable relations will have to be reached by the two parties themselves. Nevertheless, the two sides should be encouraged to resist their likely reflex of erecting barriers and curbing ties between themselves. This is particularly relevant with regard to the southern government, which seeks the backing of Western donors as a counterweight to Khartoum's influence. However, unless it is coupled with closer relations with the north, the expansion of southern ties with its southern and eastern neighbours and the West could deepen the polarisation between the two states. Instead of hastening the south's uncoupling from the north and raise the risk of conflict between the two sides, external actors should seek to promote their integration, and prevent imbalances in north-south relations.

AfricaFocus Bulletin is an independent electronic publication providing reposted commentary and analysis on African issues, with a particular focus on U.S. and international policies. AfricaFocus Bulletin is edited by William Minter.

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