Sudan, Divided: Addressing the Primary Challenges to the South’s Development (part 3 of 3)

Tuesday, August 9, marked one month since South Sudan’s official independence and international recognition as Africa’s 54th state. As the new nation begins to form its policies on development issues, its leadership and citizenry must successfully overcome several obstacles. The international community must remain apprised of – and involved in – South Sudan’s progression toward stability and state building. This is the third post in a three-part series that will address the major questions central to South Sudan’s development.

Read the first post and the second post.

Resolving the Remaining Secession Negotiations

How will South Sudan go about settling the remaining secession negotiations with the north, avoiding further armed conflict with Sudan President Omar al-Bashir’s government? How and to what extent should international actors arbitrate these negotiations?

As Sudan and South Sudan finalize the remaining secession negotiations, several interrelated points of contention may lead to continued political dispute and even more violence. These include:

  • sharing the oil revenue;
  • determining the citizenship status of those residing north or south of the partition;  and
  • officially demarcating the border, which will influence both of the other concerns.

A remaining complication involves the destabilization campaign by militant groups trained by and aligned with the north that currently reside in South Sudan. International action may be necessary to prevent this destabilization campaign, promoted by President al-Bashir, from disrupting South Sudan’s development process.

Map of Sudan, Satellite Image, NASA

Border demarcation, oil revenue sharing, and citizenship policy are three major concerns in the final secession negotiations between Sudan and South Sudan.

Oil Revenue Sharing

A major factor precluding peaceful resolution in South Kordofan, an oil-rich border state, regards the sharing of oil revenues between the north and South Sudan. Three-quarters of Sudan’s oil is produced in the south, but the oil is piped, refined, and exported from the north. As Khartoum has already lost a majority share of its primary income source upon the South’s secession, the two nations continue to dispute the terms for dividing overall oil revenue. Hostilities — and therefore violence — persist, particularly along border areas where both nations are unlikely to further compromise.

Determining Citizenship Policy

Determining citizenship policies is an additional issue in need of resolution. Though South Sudan President Salva Kiir announced South Sudan would grant dual citizenship to northerners in the south, Sudan’s governing National Congress Party (NCP) has refused to grant dual citizenship to southerners living in the north. The NCP has already ended the employment of southern Sudanese in the north’s government and military, and argues that granting citizenship to southerners would enable seven million of them to remain in the north, sapping public resources. The issues regarding citizenship are also implicated in the ongoing violence in the Nuba region, where southern-aligned forces now find themselves north of the partition.

The concerns over revenue sharing, citizenship policy, and border demarcation must be negotiated in a constructive manner by Sudan and South Sudan. Notably, these issues are all closely linked to the ongoing armed violence along border areas. Growing discontent in the north is also likely linked with President al-Bashir’s sustained efforts to further destabilize the South, ideations of rekindled civil war distracting from the declining economic conditions throughout the north country. Thus, it is probable that addressing each of these final negotiations will require international arbitration or pressure, to ensure the rights and lives of citizens in both nations are protected throughout the continued divisionary and reconciliation process.

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