Yesterday President Kiir of South Sudan told the visiting German Foreign Minister, Guido Westerwelle, in Juba that the South will surely not claim all the oil for itself but will generously grant the North the assistance it needs to overcome the economic bottleneck ahead. The NCP’s new political commissar, al-Haj Adam Yusif, welcomed President Kiir’s statement with the typical additive mujamala (courtesy). He told the press “We won’t take more than we deserve since we know they need it [oil] more than we do”. To spoil the exchange of courtesies the Khartoum press also reported that President Kiir had asked Germany for military assistance.
The immediate background to the animated concern over the division of oil is President Bashir’s declaration a few days ago that he is ready to shut down the pipeline in case no favourable deal is reached to replace the current 50-50 division of oil revenues between Khartoum and June. Naturally oil remains the big prize of the post-referendum negotiations between the two governments and not the Abyei side-show where the National Congress Party (NCP) has practically shelled its way through to the 20 June ‘Temporary Arrangements for the Administration and Security of the Abyei Area’. Speaking to the Khartoum daily al-Ray al-Aam the NCP’s Abyei guru, al-Derdiri Mohamed Ahmed, argued that the agreement effectively abolishes the prospect of the referendum as stipulated in the CPA’s Abyei protocol unless a new vote is decided upon by the two parties in some future deal. He claimed that the Misseriya, for whom access to the pastures south of Bahr el-Arab has been secured, are largely content with the arrangements, and that a significant portion of the Dinka Ngok in the SPLM are equally pleased. However he signalled out Deng Alor as the major spoiler saying Alor refused to sign. Notably, it was Pagan Amum who ornamented the 20 June agreement with his signature. On the grounds of an undisclosed illness the SPLM’s Secretary General has remained conspicuously silent during the quakes of Abyei and South Kordofan. Recently he was quoted once by al-Sharq al-Awsat on 17 June saying that the SPLM will seek international jurisdiction to reclaim the oil of South Sudan in case Khartoum continues to “pirate” the precious commodity following 9 July.
That said the victims of secession in both Khartoum and Juba seem to be the very people who negotiated its referendum. Vice President Ali Osman Taha survives yes but only as a shadow of his former self. To mark his decline a number of articles in the NCP’s mouthpiece al-Raed recently paid him tribute in Stalinist style in the guise of commending the efforts of the CPA’s brokers against the fierce bashing they habitually receive from al-Intibaha. An ardent sympathizer even published a piece warning of a Taha-Turabi come back in a rejuvenated and unified Islamic Movement in case Sheikh Ali’s position is further threatened. The argument he made was that Taha the lawyer still has two major cards to play against President Bashir, reconciliation with Turabi and the ICC arrest warrant. I would bet on neither to actually deliver.