China is “frightened” of what might happen if Southern Sudan secedes and must strengthen its ties with the region’s leaders to protect its oil assets, said a Southern Sudan official.
Oil-rich Southern Sudan, which gained semi-autonomy in a 2005 peace deal that ended a 21-year civil war in which 2 million people died, is to vote in a January referendum on secession from the rest of Sudan to form a new country.
“A lot of wild rumours have been getting to them, that if the south separates, there will be insecurity, and if there is insecurity, their assets worth billions of dollars in the form of pipelines and so on will have been a waste,” Anne Itto, Southern Sudan’s minister of agriculture, told reporters today in the semi-autonomous capital, Juba, upon returning from China.
“I told China, the Chinese people, that if they want to protect their assets, the only way is to develop a very strong relationship with the government of Southern Sudan, respect the outcome of the referendum, and then we will be doing business,” said Itto, who is also deputy secretary-general of the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, or SPLM.
Sudan is sub-Saharan Africa’s third-biggest oil producer, with output of 490,000 barrels per day, according to the BP Statistical Review of World Energy.
Most of the oil is pumped in the south, and China is the main destination for exported Sudan crude.
China is interested in expanding oil exploration to more blocks, Itto said. A senior delegation from the Chinese Communist Party is expected as early as October to try to “bridge the gap,” she said in a Reuters report.
“Whether anybody likes it or not, China is providing leadership in the development of developing countries,” she said.
“They are stepping up. They are funding, particularly in the area of agriculture and exploration of natural resources.”
China National Petroleum Corporation is the operating partner in the Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company, of which it owns 40%.
The majority of the GNPOC’s concession falls in Southern Sudan territory, though the oil contracts were signed with the Khartoum government in the north during the war.
JUBA Sudan, Aug 20 (Reuters) - Southern Sudan holds a referendum on Jan. 9 on independence from the north, and most analysts believe the south will secede.
But some question whether the region, which was devastated by decades of civil war but is rich in resources, can survive independently from the north, which it fought for so long.
Here are some questions and answers on an independent south Sudan.
WILL ANYTHING CHANGE?
Analysts who dismiss the doomsday scenarios for secession say that the semi-autonomous south has been effectively self-governing since a 2005 peace deal, and little will change after the vote.
After more than two decades of civil war with the north, the accord allowed the former rebels of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) to govern Southern Sudan, securing billions of dollars in donor funding and oil revenues.
"Currently, the southern government has a lot of operational independence. It has its own legislature, its own security forces and control over an unprecedented amount of government wealth due to oil revenues," said Marc Gustafson, a Sudan scholar at Oxford University.
Many southern officials expect business-as-usual for their development projects and to continue coordination with their northern neighbour after secession.
Isaac Liabwel of the Ministry of Water Resources said a number of joint north-south funded agricultural development and hydro-electric projects in the south were under way, and could continue if funding issues were agreed.
There is general agreement that billions of dollars in aid will be needed to sustain development in the south. A U.N. peacekeeping mission is likely to remain to help with security issues in the south and along the disputed north-south border.
IS THE SOUTH ECONOMICALLY VIABLE?
The south gets 98 percent of its budget revenues from oil, but all the infrastructure and Sudan's ports are in the north, making the south highly vulnerable to any tension with its neighbour.
In the absence of a pipeline or refinery in the south, sharing of oil revenue is likely to continue after secession, but the two sides are debating whether it will remain at roughly 50-50.
The international community has spent billions of dollars to develop the south, and will continue to do so if it secedes.
But the establishment of new state institutions may mean new bureaucratic hurdles for donors already struggling to circumvent endemic corruption.
Since the peace deal, with donor help, the south has set up 29 ministries, built 6,000 km of rudimentary roads, quadrupled school attendance and stamped out outbreaks of polio and measles, according to Lisa Grande, U.N. humanitarian chief in the south.
But south Sudan starts off as one of the poorest parts of the world, which has been embroiled in conflict for all but a few years since 1955.
"(In 2005) there wasn't a functioning school system, there wasn't a functioning health system. So you are talking about constructing a system from the ground up," Grande said.
Private enterprise is severely limited by the lack of infrastructure -- the south has just 60 km of asphalted roads.
CAN THE SOUTH MAINTAIN SECURITY?
Tribal rivalries continue to dominate domestic politics, as groups freely arm themselves with guns left over from the war.
Renegade army generals and southern militias allied with the north clash sporadically with southern government forces.
In addition, the Ugandan rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) has staged cross-border attacks from the Democratic Republic of Congo, displacing thousands and halting agricultural projects in the fertile belt.
But of most concern is the north-south conflict, which continues to bubble close to the surface. Clashes in Malakal and the still disputed oil-rich Abyei region have broken the ceasefire since 2005.
Diplomats and intelligence sources say the West and Africa cannot afford to have another Somalia in east Africa, and will spare no expense to prevent an independent southern Sudan becoming a failed state.
But Abyei is far from being resolved, and many believe it will remain a bone of contention and perhaps even spark a return to conflict.
A new war between two states might prove more devastating than the guerrilla insurgency of the civil war, which claimed 2 million lives, drove 4 million from their homes and destabilised much of east Africa.
"The south has a much more developed and conventional military than it did a decade ago, meaning that a new war would be much more destructive than previous ones. This is certainly a deterrent to both sides," said Gustafson.
The U.N. peacekeeping force has been helping to train south Sudan's police and army, but has so far not been able to prevent clashes. (Reporting by Jeremy Clarke, Editing by Opheera McDoom and Kevin Liffey)
SABMiller said on Friday it would double output at its brewing operations in southern Sudan by the end of the year, a sign of the economic boom taking root in the former war zone.
The decision to lift capacity to 350 000 hectolitres from 180 000 when the Juba-based brewery opened in May 2009 also suggests confidence in the stability of the south, which is likely to vote for independence in a January referendum.
"Many people questioned our logic in building not only the first brewery that southern Sudan had seen for 50 years but also the first manufacturing facility in Juba," said Ian Alsworth-Elvey, managing director of Southern Sudan Beverages Ltd (SSBL).
"However, the business has had a very warm welcome to the country and our beer, soft drinks and water brands have found real traction with consumers," he said.
With its $37 million investment, SABMiller is the largest non-oil investor in the southern part of Africa's biggest country, whose prolonged North-South civil war only ended in 2005. As many as 2 million people were killed.
The peace deal provided for the predominantly Christian and animist south to hold a referendum in Januray 2011 on seceding from the Arab-dominated north.
Mutual distrust is hampering negotiations on how to share Sudan's billions of dollars of external debt and the revenues from oil fields in the south.
The worst case scenario could see the two sides resuming hostilities, with disastrous consequences for east African countries such as Kenya and Uganda, which have benefited from Juba's oil-fuelled boom of the last five years.
The main competition for SSBL's distinctive White Bull lager comes from imported bottles of Tusker, brewed by neighbouring Kenya's East African Breweries, a unit of Diageo, the world's largest drinks group. - Reuters
By Deng Malual Jok
Sudan is planning to build a nuclear reactor and its first nuclear power plant by 2020, the state news agency SUNA has said."The Ministry of Electricity and Dams has already started preparing for the project to produce power from nuclear energy in cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency and is expected to build the first nuclear power plant in the year 2020," Tayeb said.
Tayeb said an IAEA delegation would visit Sudan to discuss the project this week.
Sudan has been an IAEA member since 1958 and can develop a peaceful nuclear energy programme with IAEA assistance.
Sudan's economy has suffered under US sanctions since 1997 and from decades of warfare.
The African country has close economic and political ties with Iran, which is locked in a dispute with the US and some of its allies over its nuclear programme.
In defiance of the sanctions, Sudan has managed to hike oil production to 470,000 barrels per day, boosting growth.
It has also built dams along the Blue and White Niles, which merge in Sudan, to generate power, however, large swathes of the country remain without regular electricity.
The Khartoum government announced in March that Sudan needed to look for new energy sources, not excluding nuclear power.
According to calculations by the government, Sudan may experience an acute lack of power in about 25 years if other power sources are not developed.
Earlier this year, Iran offered to transfer nuclear technology to Sudan.
"Iran is prepared to transfer the experience, knowledge and technology of its scientists," Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Iranian leader, told visiting Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir in March.
Mohamed Ahmed Hassan el-Tayeb, director-general of the Sudanese Atomic Energy Agency, said on Sunday that his government had begun the plan for the development of the nuclear reactor at the beginning of this year.
"Those Americans have strength and technology, so they can use that to catch Kony," said Anton Juma, another member of the village militia, now sheltering at Nzara. "Our arrows are no use against their guns."
Rebels from Lord’s Resistance Army shoot men, drag off others into forest to join their force.
By Peter Martell/Middle East - NZARA
When the dreadlocked gunmen burst out of the jungle at night firing AK-47 assault rifles, the men of the village took up bows and arrows to defend their families.
But the brave defence was futile. The rebels from the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) simply shot the men and dragged off others into the forest to join their force.
"Two of us were killed, and three more wounded," said Vanetta Tamenda, who fled as the rebels began their work, torching his small farming village of Basukangbi, on south Sudan’s remote border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The village’s simple defence force -- calling themselves the ‘Arrow Boys’ -- were swiftly overrun.
"They are too strong," Tamenda said, pulling up a ripped shirt to show bullet wounds in his shoulder and back. "We need guns to defend ourselves."
Tens of thousands of people have been killed in two decades of fighting since LRA chief Joseph Kony took up arms -- initially against the Ugandan government.
Driven out of Uganda, the guerillas have carved out a vast region of control in the dense forests of northeastern DR Congo, south Sudan and the Central African Republic (CAR).
The jungle allows easy movement across porous borders for the rebels, who abandoned faltering peace talks in 2008.
Their acts of startling brutality have forced more than 25,000 people to flee their homes in south Sudan since January, according to the United Nations.
"The attacks this year by the LRA seem to be on the increase," said Sapana Abuyi, deputy governor of Western Equatoria, the state in south Sudan hardest hit by the rebels.
"Not a week goes by without us receiving a message they have attacked a village."
They call the rebels here the "tong-tong" -- or "chop-chop" -- named after the machete attacks on their victims when they wish to save a bullet.
Its top leaders, wanted by the International Criminal Court in The Hague, are accused of massacres, mutilation, forcibly enlisting boys as child soldiers, and taking girls as sex slaves.
Several hundred of those who most recently fled have gathered in the small settlement of Nzara, searching for security, shelter, food and medication.
"People left so quickly they could take little," said Daniel James Banjen, chief of the Sangwa area, which was attacked in early August.
"Some of us are staying with families, others under plastic sheeting, and all of us are living off the food that we are given."
The people here say an upsurge in attacks is linked to the ripe harvests currently in the fields.
"They leave us alone while we cultivate," said Terezina Mathew as a child clutched her skirt. "But when the crops are good they come, forcing us away so they can take all our food."
The United Nations and aid agencies are supporting the displaced, but prolonged attacks have weakened the population and officials worry there is little sign of finding a solution or ending the attacks.
"All along the border they have killed and abducted children for their evil army," said Lexson Wari Amozai, the head of the south Sudan government's humanitarian agency for Western Equatoria. "The peace that was ongoing has ended, and no one is talking about it."
Both southern Sudanese and Ugandan soldiers patrol the area, but the troops are stretched thin, with the guerrillas now experts in hit-and-run raids.
South Sudan is far from alone in being affected by the rebels.
Over 700 people have been abducted by the rebels in CAR in the past 18 months, according to a recent report by Human Rights Watch.
Meanwhile the rebels have carved out a kingdom in the Bas Uele of DR Congo by slaughtering over a hundred people and abducting at least 570 in the past 15 months, according to field research by the Washington-based Enough pressure group.
A new US law passed in May commits the Washington administration to develop a strategy that will ensure civilians are protected from the LRA, and to end the rebels’ campaign of carnage.
Those displaced said they would welcome any help, saying they have so little to defend themselves with now.
Jonglei (Borglobe)… unprecedented confrontation took place last Wednesday among wrestlers of Biong-Alian during a friendly contest – wrestling match. A root-cause of dispute came after of one the unnamed wrestlers grasped his opponent’s testis that ended in “punch in a head.” Wrestlers from Biong were later confronted and disciplined through beating after a game at a cattle station, in Kolmerek by Alian’s wrestlers who were considered to be many at the time according to the Bor County police statement.
Khartoum (Borglobe)… Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, the official ruling party in South Sudan said on Monday that it would accept a member of National Congress Party (NCP) to take a key post if a deputy could come from the south.
Yaser Arman, SPLM’s senior official said his party looking forward for referendum to be held on time as scheduled on January 9, 2011.
However, the Head of referendum commission Mohamed Ibrahim Khalil told Reuters the five southerners in the nine-member commission would vote as a block to prevent a northerner taking the post of secretary general, who would control the commission's funds.
The referendum is the climax of a 2005 north-south peace deal ending Africa's longest civil war, which claimed an estimated two million lives (Reuters).
Many young people in southern Sudan have joined the campaign for independence, and they are airing their message on their own radio station.
The station was created by a group allied to the youth wing of the ruling SPLM.
Calling themselves the South Sudan Youth For Separation, members of the group say they are in search of a separate homeland for the South Sudanese.
But as Al Jazeera's Mohammed Adow reports from Juba, southern Sudan, the group is still struggling to make their voices heard. -
By Mabior Philip
Juba (Borglobe)...the Governor of the Bank of Sudan has unilaterally reversed paying in hard currency the 50% oil share revenues for the Government of Southern Sudan since July, crumbling the region’s already struggling economy and escalating an upsurge of strained north - south relations.
The President of the Government of Southern Sudan and the First Vice President of the Republic, Salva Kiir, wrote a letter yesterday to President Bashir, asking him to reverse the decision, Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, David Deng Athorbei said yesterday.
Under the 2005 land mark peace deal between the north and the south, the Government of Southern Sudan’s 50% share of revenues generated from oil within its territory should be paid in hard currency into accounts managed by the Bank of Southern Sudan (BOSS). Since July, south’s oil share is paid in local currency following the Bank of Sudan’s refusal to pay in hard currency.
Finance Minister said the motive of the central bank is to deliberately deprive the south of hard currency, so that in case it secedes in the nearing independence vote, it should only be left with local currency that have no hard currency back up.
“I can say with clarity that this is a clear attempt to violate the CPA and the motives are not good. These are sinister motives to snapper southern Sudan’s economy”, Deng said in a press briefing.
The effect has been felt since last month, when businessmen had no possibility to buy dollar from private banks and foreign exchange bureaus as the reserves of the Bank of Southern Sudan were helplessly expended.
“As a result of this action, the foreign exchange reserves of BOSS have been seriously depleted and BOSS is unable to supply banks and foreign exchange bureaus with foreign currency, and meet the foreign exchange needs of GOSS”, Deng said in a press statement.
The value of the Sudanese Pound has fallen sharply in the recent days from SDG2.43 to SDG3.10 per dollar and the foreign exchange needed by the business community to pay for imports and to meet their foreign currency obligations and commitments cannot be provided any longer.
“Investor confidence in southern Sudan is eroded as we cannot meet their foreign exchange requirements. The public is unable to send money to their families abroad for school fees or any other purpose”, Deng added.
This, so far, is the second unilateral decision to hold back oil share hard currency for the Government of Southern Sudan after it was taken in June 2008. The situation was resolved later after a political intervention. However, Deng said “if the National Congress Party insists, then Southern Sudan will sit and act accordingly”.