Peace promises between the Sudans has not left piece of paper it was written on
Border skirmishes between the two African nations leaves coexistence extremely fragile
South Sudan in Africa broke away from Sudan in July 2011. In order to keep the peace, Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir and his South Sudanese counterpart, President Salva Kiir, clasped hands grinningly in the international spotlight at the end of a successful summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in September 2012. The agreement pulled the states back from the brink of war. Promises have not been kept - and the two nations now are once again on the brink of war.
South Sudan's independence has left both countries' economies in a perilous state, weakening their governments' ability to implement the peace deal.
Reports have emerged of a build-up of troops along the countries' shared border in recent weeks. Acknowledged hot spots like the disputed Abyei area and the oil fields of Heglig are reporting increased activity. Border incidents are ongoing. Twenty-four people have died in border skirmishes over the last several weeks.
The polite veneer of civility is just about worn away. Bashir accused South Sudan of having become "devoted to creating conflicts", adding: "We are advocates of peace, but peace will not be at any cost. We have given everything and we do not have anything new to offer."
The South Sudanese government announced that their forces were ready for a possible attack. "We are concerned again about this hawkish mindset, about the ruling elites in Khartoum who would want to escalate the situation along the border and possibly provoke a war between the two countries," Sudan's Deputy Defense Minister Majak D'Agoot said.
South Sudan's independence has left both countries' economies in a perilous state, weakening their governments' ability to implement the peace deal. The secession of South Sudan, home to 75 percent of the country's oil reserves, has deprived Sudan's economy by more than half its revenues.
Although many expected Sudan would recoup some of its lost oil income by levying transit fees on South Sudanese crude, the two countries could not agree - until the September deal was signed - on the level these fees should be.
Negotiations on this issue broke down last year when South Sudan discovered that Sudan had been selling some oil in lieu of payment for transit fees. The South in response closed down its entire oil production, causing the government to lose 98 percent of its revenue.
Both countries' governments also face rampant inflation and rising food prices, creating the potential for popular discontentment. Both presidents returned from the signing in Addis Ababa last September to face criticism over the deal from hard-line elements in their own parties.
the situation in Sudan is being closely monitored by the United Nations. "The situation is volatile and tense and you can have escalation. But we don't believe that they have gone so far as to sign the September 27 agreement and now risk everything by going back to war. We don't believe that is what they want," a U.N. representative disclosed.
© 2013, Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Sudan, South Sudan, border skirmishes, peace agreements, oil revenue, strikes
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