By James Dak
May 9, 2010 (JUBA) — The
Southern Sudan’s ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM)
has expressed concern over the limited time left to resolve
the outstanding issues in the implementation of the 2005’s
North-South peace deal that ended the 21 years of brutal
a meeting on Thursday with the visiting Norwegian Special
Envoy to Sudan, Tom Vraalsen, the Deputy Chairperson of the
SPLM and Vice President designate, Dr. Riek Machar, said
time was running out and that the two parties should resume
the negotiations in implementing several contentious issues
before the referendum takes place seven months from now.
He explained that the
negotiations were interrupted by the recent elections and
have not yet resumed with the understanding that the
government could be formed first.
Machar however added that
since the formation of government in Khartoum has been
delayed until the end of May or beginning of June, he would
consult with his President elect, General Salva Kiir
Mayardit, in order to look for a way out so that
negotiations resume even before the formation of government.
Dr. Machar, who chairs the
SPLM High Political Executive Committee charged with
implementing the CPA, outlined a wide range of issues to be
discussed and which included among others the formation of
referendum commissions for Southern Sudan and Abyei,
North-South border demarcation on the ground, and several
items in the post-referendum arrangements.
On the formation of
referendum commission for the South he said the SPLM is well
ahead prepared with its four nominees and waiting for the
NCP to present its other four nominees, making the
membership eight in number. The ninth member who would then
be the chairperson of the commission would be someone agreed
upon by the two parties, he said.
The formation of the Abyei
referendum commission seemed to be problematic, Machar told
the Envoy, explaining that his counter-part in the
negotiations, Vice President of the Republic, Ali Osman
Mohamed Taha, had always rejected many personalities his
team had suggested to head the commission.
“Ali asked me to look for an
angel to head the Abyei commission. I gave him [angel]
Michael, he refused. I gave him [angel] Gabriel, he
refused…This time I may give him a Lucifer instead,” he
jokingly referred to the seriousness of the stalemate in the
nomination process of the chairperson.
Machar also said there are
areas of disagreement on the North-South demarcation on the
ground and potentially involves almost all the Southern
Sudan states bordering the North. One of the disagreements,
he said, emerged recently in northern part of Upper Nile
state where an area of 5 miles (about 8 kilometers) long and
700 meters wide is being contested.
He also said number of other
contested areas including Higlig oil fields in Unity state
is expected to generate some serious disagreement.
Such disagreements may either
end up in the Presidency for resolution or may be referred
back to the joint committee of the two parties for
negotiations, he explained, hence demanding quick resumption
of the talks instead of wasting time.
Dr. Machar also appealed to
the Norwegian diplomat to assist the state of Southern
Kordofan in order to speedily conduct its population census
and parliamentary elections which were postponed earlier
over the controversial census results.
He expressed the necessity
for both Southern Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains to carry out
their respective popular consultations just before the
Southern Sudan referendum takes place as this, he added,
would avail the needed “leverage” in the process.
The meeting also touched on
the peace process in Darfur.
Machar also stressed the
importance of thrashing out the post-referendum issues so
that their implementation would kick off immediately on 10th
January following the announcement of the final results for
referendum on 9th January 2011.
He had earlier suggested that
the referendum for the South and Abyei should take place in
mid December this year and the final results be declared on
the CPA’s celebration day, which is 9th January. He added
that from 10th January to 9th July would be the period for
implementing the post-referendum arrangements as the CPA
Dr. Machar presented a long
list of post-referendum issues to be discussed and these
included the future of oil production, transport and
marketing, assets, debts, currency, waters, nationality,
Joint Integrated Units (JIUs), international contracts or
agreements, the fate of southerners in the Sudan Armed
Forces (SAF) and civil service in the North [vice versa],
etc. in case the referendum resulted to separation.
He previously said that if
the referendum resulted to unity of the country, then the
question of how such a post-referendum united Sudan would
look like should also be discussed. This would include
re-structuring of the state itself, he said, without
revealing the extent of such re-structuring.
Commenting on the future of
oil, which he earlier admitted to be problematic during the
forthcoming discussions on the post-referendum issues,
Machar said “We started from the position that the oil
belongs to us (South), then it flows to the North, and this
is where give and take will come in,” he revealed as he was
referring to the more than 1,000 kms long pipeline carrying
the crude oil from Southern Sudan through the vast territory
of northern Sudan until it reaches Port Sudan in the extreme
north-eastern part of the country.
semi-autonomous Southern Sudan has neither built a pipeline
to transport the crude oil to east African Ports for
marketing nor refineries for its vast oil reserves.
He also told the Envoy that
the leadership in the South would always want to see a
stable North both politically and economically and maintain
good relations with it even if the Southern Sudan would form
its own independent country in the year 2011.
The Norwegian diplomat
expressed his country’s willingness to continue supporting
the peace process in the country and assist in
implementation of the outstanding issues.
The diplomat is the fourth
Special Envoy to have visited the Southern Sudan’s capital,
Juba, this week following the announcement of elections
results in the region.