The Oil Revenues’ Deal Between South Sudan And Sudan – Does It Make Sense? ( Part Two )
Feb 07, 2016(Nyamilepedia) —– As outlined in part one of this article, the two parties agreed to a 3 billion USDs compensatory package to be paid to Sudan over a three years period. Apparently, it was meant to cover the deficit in Sudan’s revenues following the loss of the oil money with secession of South Sudan. The mere mention of compensating the Sudan raises eyebrows. It may appear to many South Sudanese as succumbing to the aggressor who massacred thousands of our citizens or rewarding a regime that was involved in acts of thievery and looting of our natural resources. The question who deserves compensation is a valid one. To answer it, the government of Sudan needs viewing from two different angles. If we all agree that, Sudan was one country with a government responsible to all the people within its borders – then we should be bearing the following in our minds:
The secession of South Sudan relieved Sudan from responsibility towards the citizens of South Sudan regarding spending on health, education, economic projects , security and others. It means the part of the national budget allocated to spending in South Sudan, has been abolished. And people would agree that whatever amount of money spent in South Sudan was far less than what it deserved. Even it could be argued that South Sudan was in reality run by money garnered from international grants and relief organisations. Many people may not know that as a matter of fact, the budget of Abel Alier’s High Executive Council was far less than that of the University of Khartoum in those days. Hence, there are no grounds whatsoever to support loss of revenue by Sudan and entitlement for compensation.
Despite its turbulent history, Sudan has been one country for over half a century. No one can dispute the fact that South Sudanese contributed significantly to the building of Sudan. It’s fair to say that the successive governments of Sudan directed all available resources to build the centre of the country and the north while the South was marginalised and left to neglect. The sweat of South Sudanese and their natural resources were among the cornerstones of the economic growth in the north. The Jallaba traders in South Sudan played a significant role in the building of north Sudan. Small towns and villages like ” Um Doum ” near Khartoum Bahri, flourished on wealth acquired in South Sudan. There is a famous saying among the Jallabas that they buy chickens from South Sudanese at a low price only to sell them later the feathers of the same chickens at a much higher price. Of course, there is more to the saying that we cannot dwell into at this juncture. The major government projects in agriculture, road constructions, dams, factories, schools, hospitals, government institutions, you name them, were never accomplished without active participation of the South Sudanese. Therefore we are entitled to a share of all the assets held by the government of Sudan. At the time of the split, our government should have asked for its fair share of the assets. There are precedences to this – when Czechoslovakia split up to the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic in 1993, the government assets were divided between the two countries in a ratio of 2 to 1 to the level of embassies. Likewise the same happened when the former Yugoslavia disintegrated into Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Yugoslavia ( Serbia and Montenegro ). We still have the right to claim our share of the assets and not to pay Sudan a penny.
The whole world witnessed the atrocities committed against the people of South Sudan by the successive Sudanese governments. The death from war and its consequences estimated at 2 million lives. That figure ranges between 20 to 25% of the population which is a significant loss for a country the size of France. The Islamist regime in Khartoum took the situation to a different level. They declared ” Jihad ” against the ” infidels ” ( Southerners ) with implementation of the scorched earth policy in South Sudan. The meagre infrastructure left by the British colonial regime sustained extensive destruction in their ” Holy War ” against the Southerners. South Sudan deserves compensation for the destruction of the country and victimisation of its citizens. Again there is precedence that is happening right to this day. In 1952 the Federal Republic of Germany signed an agreement with Israel to pay compensation for the Holocaust victim families and survivors. They were its citizens who have become Israeli citizens following Holocaust. By 1978, the total amount paid by Germany was 53 billion Deutche Marks, a little below 30 billion USDs. It’s obvious that Sudan does not have money at present to pay us; nonetheless we should set the records straight to counter its unwarranted claims for compensation.
On the other hand, If Sudan’s reign over South Sudan was a colonial rule, then the following arguments are justified:
Firstly, when General Omar Al Bashir ascended to power in Khartoum through a military coup on 30th June 1989, Sudan’s economy was on the verge of collapse. The proof to that is from the mouths of the coup plotters themselves. General Salah Karar, famously dubbed ” Salah Dollar “, and a member of the Revolutionary Command Council for National Salvation ( RCC ), declared that if they didn’t take power through ” revolution “, the US dollar would have risen to a Dollar per 10 Sudanese pounds. Sudan was broke and could not have built the pipeline from its money. The oil revenues paid the costs of the construction of the pipeline and the oil refineries. Therefore it’s not unreasonable to say that the pipeline is mostly the property of South Sudan although the longest part of it extends through Sudan’s soil. The same applies to the oil refineries and all the facilities related to the petroleum sector. Sadly, our negotiators seemed to have overlooked the above assets and never contested their ownership.
Secondly, not far from our borders, in neighbouring Kenya a situation similar to ours did exist and to some extent was reasonably addressed. On 06 June 2013, the British Foreign Secretary, William Hague expressed regret that thousands of Kenyans had been subjected to torture and other forms of ill-treatment during the Mau Mau insurgency over 50 years ago. The British government would pay compensation for the victims and finance the construction of a memorial in Kenya for the victims of the colonial era torture. As some of you know President Obama’s grandfather was one of the victims. Whatever the British did in Kenya was way far less than the atrocities committed by Sudan in South Sudan making the case for a far bigger compensation claim.
Thirdly, What about the participation of Northerners in the practice and dissemination of slave trade in Sudan. Downplaying the issue has been the motto of the successive governments in Khartoum. It’s a well known fact that the Jallabas were the slave traders and brokers and their activities devastated many communities in South Sudan. It’s outrageous that someone like Al Zubair Basha Rahama is regarded as a hero in Sudan’s history books while he was nothing but a despicable slave trader. Perhaps it’s time for the people of Daim Zubair in Western Bahr El Ghazal State to start thinking about changing the name of their town. The slave trade is a brutal activity associated with inhumane practices and often wanton killings. Hence, it’s reasonable to believe that we lost thousands of lives at the peak of this horrible practice. In 1999, the African World Reparations and Reparation Truth Commission called for a 777 trillion USDs to be paid to Africa over five years by ” the West “. Tony Blair, the former British Prime Minister apologised twice on 27th November 2006 and on 14th Marsh 2007 for Britain’s role in the slave trade. But the most remorseful and emotionally charged was what Ken Livingstone, the former Mayor of London said. On 24th August 2007, he apologised publicly for London’s role in the slave trade. ” You can look across there to see the institutions that still have the benefit of the wealth they created from slavery “, he said pointing towards the financial district, before breaking down in tears.
With the above deal in place, the Jallabas have got us exactly where they want us to be. It was an opportunity presented to them on a golden plate and they fully seized it. The promise by President Omar Al Bashir to consider the request by the regime in Juba to reduce the transportation fees is likely to be an empty one. Realistically, how much can he reduce to have a meaningful impact on South Sudan’s share while keeping Sudan’s economy afloat?! For that to happen Sudan would have to be contented with under $ 5.00 per a barrel. It will not happen voluntarily as the government in Khartoum initially asked for $ 36.00 per a barrel as transportation fees.
We must remind ourselves that we possess the strongest card in this oil revenues’ issue because the oil belongs to us. You can have oil in your soil untapped, but there can be no pipelines, refineries and oil companies if there is no oil in the first place. Thus, the regime in Juba needs to re-negotiate the terms of the deal or declare it null and void. Sudan should get transportation fees comparable to the international prices. Should Sudan refuse and continue its bullying attitude then South Sudan should stop pumping the oil and close the whole thing down. Some people may say how South Sudan would survive without its ” only ” source of income? Well, we are already in the midst of the worst ever economic downturn and continuing selling the oil under the deal’s terms makes no difference to the ordinary man in South Sudan. We have other resources that need development and utilisation for the long-term but in the short-term a responsible government in Juba, perhaps the would be Transitional Government of National Unity ( TGoNU ) could secure loans with the guarantee of our untapped resources. We are all aware that despite the oil money, still the government in Juba took loans, hence there is nothing new in having more loans and keeping the oil in our soil for better days. In the meantime, it’s crucial to slim the government and reduce the sizes of the SPLA and the other security forces to one third of their present sizes. We do not need all those Generals who are a burden on government coffers, and some are good for nothing. Repatriation of the embezzled 4 billion USDs could be one of the solutions and there are international mechanisms to enforce it.
The compensation of Sudan should have been a nonstarter to the South Sudanese government. It’s an insult to the war victims and an act of rewarding an evil regime that waged a religious war against the South Sudanese people. In law, it’s often said that the law does not protect fools, well in politics you would thank God for the opportunity of having a fool on the other side of the table.
The author, Dr Lako Jada Kwajok, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org