Sudan – South Sudan's panel discusses oil and border issues

Calgary, Alberta, Canada - A Sudan – South Sudan’s Panel Discussion was convened last month in Calgary, Alberta, Canada to discuss contentious issues of oil and borders between the two countries. Key speakers on the panel included Hon. Deepak Obhrai, Member of Parliament for Calgary East in the Canadian House of Commons and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Hon. Joseph Malok, South Sudan Charge d’Affairs to Canada.

Hon. Deepak Obhrai reiterated Canada’s commitment to helping Sudan and South Sudan reach a peace deal on the contentious issues through the UN Security Council Resolution 2046. The Resolution 2046 requires both countries to peacefully negotiate and reach agreement on oil, border demarcation, and status of citizens living within each other’s borders and of Abyei. Obhrai told the audience that Canada would multilaterally use the Resolution 2046 as a “stick” to ensure both parties resolve the outstanding issues peacefully. He also said Canada is committed to helping South Sudan build its institutions of governance.

“Democracy does not come by saying, it works by building institutions,” he said. Hon. Obhrai, who led the Canadian Delegation to the South Sudan’s Independence last year, said “South Sudan’s independence is one of the greatest achievements Africa has ever made.” Obhrai helped shape Canada’s position in ensuring that the referendum on South Sudan’s independence was held on time and the people’s verdict respected.

Born and raised in the East African nation of Tanzania, Obhrai said Canada would use its position as the chair of the likeminded nations to assist South Sudan in its institutions building and development effort.

Amb. Joseph Malok, South Sudan Charge d’Affairs to Canada, said South Sudan has put forward a comprehensive proposal to resolve the outstanding issues between the two nations. The proposal includes a “generous offer” to help Sudan deal with its economic problems resulting from loss of revenues due to the secession of South Sudan. Hon. Malok said there are five disputed border areas both countries agree as disputed and two areas, including Panthou (Heglig), which both countries do not agree as disputed. Malok said South Sudan has endorsed all international proposals to resolve the outstanding issues including the African Union’s Roadmap and the UN Security Council Resolution number 2046. If Sudan does not agree to resolve the contentious issues peacefully as laid out by the international community, Malok stated that South Sudan would consider pursuing other peaceful means including international arbitration at the UN level.

The rest of the panelists include:

  • Mr. Joseph Luri, SPLM Country Representative for South Sudanese in Canada
  • Mr. Kuir e Garang, South Sudanese author and poet
  • Dr. Mark Durieux, Sociology Professor, Mount Royal University
  • Ms. Jane Ananias, South Sudanese Social Activist
  • Mr. Deng Kuany, Consultant with the Government of Alberta

The panel members, most of who were on the panel to speak from the perspective of ordinary South Sudanese citizens, presented interesting viewpoints.

Mr. Joseph Luri, the SPLM leader for South Sudanese in Canada spoke about options the SPLM in Canada is pursuing in helping South Sudan cope with the impact of the outstanding issues between the two Sudans. He said the SPLM in Canada would mobilize the diaspora to help in the nation building.

Dr. Mark Durieux argues that money [from oil and other sources] should go to the grassroots level where people are to meet their basic needs of health, education, security, water and food.

Mr. Kuir e Garang questioned the rationale for dividing debts without dividing the old Sudan’s assets. “If we can share the debts, why can’t we share the assets too?” he asked. He also questioned the rationale for negotiating with someone who calls “South Sudanese insects.”

Ms. Jane Ananias, a former South Sudanese refugee and social change activist, highlighted the” unspoken salient socioeconomic implications on the lives of the ordinary South Sudanese as the economic power-games go on between [the two Sudans].” She argues that with all the argument over oil and borders, it is always the ordinary citizens who pay the highest price as seen in the recent clashes between the two countries over Panthou. “I am trying to put a human face of the humanitarian crisis on the border,” she said. Furthermore, she stated that when people talk about high inflation rates, oil transit fees and border disputes, there are humans who are negatively affected as a result, and the most vulnerable are the women and children. For example, there are women who “gave birth under trees” and nobody seems to care to talk about it. She wants human stories to be told when discussing these issues.

Mr. Deng Kuany argued for moratorium of oil and use of alternative means to build south Sudan’s economy. “My personal point of view as a South Sudanese is that whoever advocates for resumption of oil production is advocating for resumption of war,” he categorically said. He wants South Sudan to instead borrow, diversify economy, and establish accountable and transparent taxation system and downsizing the government.

The audience had an opportunity to ask questions and made their opinions known especially to Hon. Deepak Obhrai and Hon. Joseph Malok. They both promised to consider all the raised points in their future effort to bring peace between the two countries.The panel discussion was made possible by the collaborative efforts of the South Sudanese Community in Calgary, SPLM Chapter in Calgary, Lost Boys' and Girls' Association of South Sudan in Calgary, and the

The two Sudans last month reached an agreement on oil. However, talks on other outstanding issues are still going on through the mediation by the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) led by Former South African President Thabo Mbeki

Panel discussion in pictures

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Members of audience during the discussion.

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Some of the panel members during the discussion

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Some of the audience members

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