Details on the Sudan-South Sudan Economic and Security Agreements

In August, Sudan and South Sudan reached a provisional agreement on oil revenue sharing, one of the issues that has divided the two sides since South Sudan’s independence last July. Yesterday, the two sides signed deals on trade and security. AP gives an overview:

The presidents of Sudan and South Sudan signed economic and security agreements Thursday that will allow a resumption of oil exports from South Sudan. The two countries also reached deals for a demilitarized zone between their borders and a cessation of all hostilities that brought the countries to the brink of all-out war just a few months ago.

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The security agreement was signed by the two countries’ defense ministers, while lead negotiators inked economic and trade agreements. AU mediators say the two sides also signed a deal to let their citizens freely move between, reside in and work in both countries.

On the security front, Reuters adds,

Under the border deal, the countries agreed to pull back their armies 10 km (6 miles) from the frontier. Special arrangements will be made for a strategic strip of land called Mile-14, which is important to Arab tribes allied to Sudan.

The Sudan Tribune gives additional details:

Beside the security arrangements agreement, the other seven deals include the following: an Agreement on Banking, which aims to enhance cooperation in the management of monetary policy, an Agreement on Border Issues, which deals with the demarcation of common borders, an Agreement on Post-Service Benefits, which addresses the situation of workers who served on both sides of the borders before secession, an Agreement on Trade, which mainly deals with regulation of trade, an Agreement on Certain Economic Matters, which deals with assets, liabilities and debt, an Agreement on Oil, which deals with the management of oil resources and exportation, and an Agreement of Nationals, which grants citizens of both countries the four freedoms of movement, ownership, work and residence in the other country.

The agreements are also notable for what they leave out. Missing is a deal on the fate of Abyei, a territory that was supposed to hold its own referendum on whether to join (north) Sudan or South Sudan in 2011, but did not. The African Union has floated the idea of a referendum again, though as Reuters notes “similar votes have failed in the past because the sides cannot agree on who is qualified to vote.” Five other border areas - Hofrat Al-Nuhas, Mile 14, Kaka Al-Tigaria, Al-Muqaines, and Goda – are also disputed.

Press outlets are characterizing yesterday’s agreements as a partial success. The Economist notes the balancing act both sides strive to strike as they deal with international pressures to make deals, and domestic pressures to avoid major concessions. The Economist concludes,

The resumption of oil production will soothe international concerns, but the UN and Western governments have routinely overestimated the industry’s ability to bind north and south. The outlines of the oil deal had been clear for several months; it was the border demarcation that proved, and continues to prove, much trickier.

Reuters writes, “The border deal…will throw both ailing economies a lifeline and prevent, for now, a resumption of the fighting that broke out along the frontier in April.”

What comes next? AP has details on the timeline for the resumption of South Sudanese oil exports, while Reuters has a forward-looking assessment from US Special Envoy Princeton Lyman:

Lyman…told Reuters the AU should now concentrate on brokering a ceasefire between Khartoum and SPLM-North rebels, who are fighting in two states on the Sudanese side of the border.

“This has to be a very high priority. If they keep fighting it will be probably hard to secure the borders,” he said.

Reactions also came from US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama, who issued statements praising the agreements. AP provides comments from a number of experts.

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2 thoughts on “Details on the Sudan-South Sudan Economic and Security Agreements

  1. Border issues often seem to be either fairly easy or almost impossible. A good number of the world’s conflicts, frozen conflicts, or simple tense relations stem at least in part from contested land.

    Anyway that’s one thing done and it might keep them from trying to force the other side to better terms by seizing territory.

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