UN high level meeting tests southern Sudan’s resolve

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(Calgary AB NSV) - President Salva Kiir Mayardit, in America for a week, is due to address the UN summit on Sudan, just hours from now, in a meeting that will be attended both by UN Secretary General Ban Ki- Moon, and US President Barack Obama.

Analysts say the UN summit, which brings together representatives from the northern National Congress Party (represented by Vice President Ali Osman Taha) and the SPLM will exert pressure on  the two partners to the CPA, to make concessions, and guarantee a peaceful and timely conduct of the referenda on southern Sudan and Abyei.   

In his address to the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation last Friday, Mayardit alluded to the “rising calls that the South must make 'accommodations' and 'compromises'”, a veiled reference to US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, who said at the beginning of this month that the south must make "some accommodations" with the north "unless they want more years of warfare."

In the speech, Kiir said the post-referendum negotiations, of which oil and the border are among the most complicated, are proceeding. However, while “It’s unlikely that we will agree on all aspects of the post-referendum arrangements before January 9th, 2011,” he said, the referenda date is non negotiable, he added.     

“We will work hard to get as far as possible. But the timing of the referendum is sacrosanct. The vote must happen on time on January 9th, 2011, and is not contingent on the conclusion of any post-referendum negotiations, including over the border, as the CPA itself makes it clear.” 

On possible post-referendum oil compromise with the north, the President said “I would like to stress that it should not be up to the South to put all of the compromises on the table at the outset.”

“The terms 'accommodation', 'compromise' and phrases such as "buy your freedom" are troubling," he said. "These terms imply in some way that the South has not already made significant compromises and sacrifices,” Kiir told the largely African American audience. “Anyone who knows the history of our country knows that nothing could be further from the truth.”

Although Mr. Kiir says “it should not be up to the south to put all of the compromises on the table at the outset,” the south has already done so, unless they are backing away from the statements made by the former minister of presidential affairs, Mr. Luka Biong Deng.

At the beginning of this year, Biong said the south might consider post-referendum split of oil with the north, in order to secure a ‘soft landing.’

"Our concern is the economic viability ... and the unity of the north, which, I think, will make us even see whether we can continue with the same arrangement that we have," he  told Financial Times. "For a certain period of time, one would go for that."

The future of Sudan might be ‘hanging in the balance,’ as Kiir said on Friday, but it’s really the south that has much to lose this time -- and southerners, having been let down by Mr. Kiir at the beginning of his administration (when he ceded much power to Khartoum in 2005) –will watch nervously whether their leader will stand firm in the face of considerable pressure from the Troika (US, Norway, UK) for the south to compromise on its oil and its border, in order for Khartoum to recognize the inevitable secession of the south.   


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