Fighting stalls progress on outstanding CPA issues between Khartoum, Juba

Saturday December 27 2014

By FRED OLUOCH

THE OUTBREAK of civil war in South Sudan one year ago exacerbated the already strained relations between Juba and Khartoum, as well as Uganda.

Khartoum has been itching to join the war because the rebels fighting the government of President Omar al-Bashir, the SPLM-North and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) of Darfur, have been fighting alongside the government of South Sudan.

Some of the top leaders of these two groups — based in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile — have  been staying in Uganda, resulting in uneasy relations between Kampala and Khartoum.

The two groups, it is alleged, had formed the Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) to remove President al-Bashir. Uganda’s  deployment of its forces in South Sudan to save the government of President Salva Kiir has put Khartoum on the opposing side.

On December 17, Khartoum warned South Sudan against supporting and funding Sudanese rebels, a development those familiar with a Sudan’s efforts to contain the rebels say was an indication that Sudan would not hesitate to enter South Sudan territory in pursuit of the rebels, especially in this dry season. 

Juba has always denied supporting Sudanese rebels, while at the same time accusing Khartoum of supporting militias in South Sudan to destabilise the country with the objective of not honouring the outstanding issues of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement.

Two years ago, the two countries signed a co-operation agreement that addressed the issue of security within their borders and both undertook to cease supporting rebels in each other’s countries.

Officially, Khartoum has given Juba diplomatic and political support against the rebels, but behind the scenes, the two countries remain suspicious of each other.

But of great significance is that the war in South Sudan has stalled the implementation of the CPA’s outstanding issues, which was a blessing in disguise for Khartoum. Juba has always believed that Khartoum has not been enthusiastic about meeting its CPA obligations, continually diverting attention from the real issues.

By the time of the outbreak of the war in South Sudan on December 15, 2013, progress in addressing many of the key political and security issues dividing Sudan and South Sudan was still elusive.

The Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism is currently dormant, the centre line of the Safe Demilitarised Border Zone has not been established and the Abyei area administration has not been formed in the face of increasing instability in the area in recent months..

The referendum in Abyei — which was to be held in January 2011 to determine whether to remain in Sudan or join South Sudan — is yet to be held because of a dispute between the two countries on who is entitle to participate between the Ngok Dinka and the Messeriya.