- What is tragic here is that the UN, the US government and international non-governmental organisations have said that the oil sector, which is the central focus of this paragraph, has provided the resources needed to fund the war in South Sudan and nourish the intransigence of the regime in Juba.
The regime in Juba and other armed and political parties to the conflict in South Sudan signed a framework document which appears to be a mixture of declaration of principles, declaration of intent and agreement on some substantial issues.
For the purpose of this very brief analysis, I will divide the document into three: issues on which there is an agreement, items with partial agreement and those issues that the parties have agreed to discuss and agree to in the future.
1. Areas of agreement
1.1. The oil sector
Sudan and South Sudan have agreed to “immediately” rehabilitate, manage and jointly defend the oil wells and infrastructure. The phraseology of this agreement is interesting. The parties agreed that “if need be,” “they shall” work collaboratively and in coordination to “immediately” undertake efforts required to get the oil production to its pre-war levels.
So, whether the parties agree or not, whether there is a new government or not and whether there is a revitalised agreement or not, the implementation of paragraph 5 of the Khartoum Declaration on the oil sector can and will go ahead.
What is tragic here is that the UN, the US government and international non-governmental organisations have said that the oil sector, which is the central focus of this paragraph, has provided the resources needed to fund the war in South Sudan and nourish the intransigence of the regime in Juba.
It is even very strange that oil production which was not within the remit of the High-Level Revitalization Forum (HLRF) and, therefore, not one of the outstanding areas of disagreement between the parties became an agenda item in the first place without any protest from the parties.
1.2. Deployment of troops in S. Sudan
The parties agreed to “kindly invite”, “Igad and African Union member states to deploy the necessary force to supervise the agreed ceasefire”. This is of gross concern. First, the agreement is not to ask Igad or the AU to deploy, but the agreement is that any member state of Igad or AU can accept this invitation and kindly deploy forces it considers necessary.
This is a front door for Uganda and Sudan, for instance, to deploy UPDF or SAF into South Sudan under the guise of supervising a ceasefire while their unexpressed purposes are to protect their interests and prop up a government that shed off all its rights and capacity to be one.
2. Areas of partial agreement
2.1. Permanent ceasefire
The parties agreed to declare a permanent ceasefire in three days. This permanent ceasefire will be based on the 2017 cessation of hostilities agreement (COHA). This is indeed a breakthrough except it might just be a mirage.
First, normally, the sequence is that you negotiate a COHA, then reach an agreement on all contentious issues and sign a permanent ceasefire. But Khartoum is not a normal circumstance. So, first there is an agreement on a permanent ceasefire, then the parties must discuss and agree to all the details before leaving Khartoum. There is a problem, a ceasefire monitored through bilateral arrangements and by countries who are either proxies to the conflict or parties to the conflict has an in build propensity to fail.
3. Where there are agreements to agree to discuss
The parties agree to continue to discuss the details of a permanent ceasefire agreement and conclude that within three days, to discuss and agree on power sharing before leaving Khartoum and the parties appear to agree not to discuss federalism or decentralization of powers. This is telling in a number of ways.
First, these are the real issues that led to the failure of the HLRF. So, a failure to reach an agreement on sustainable peace, on an acceptable system of governance that devolves power to the people and on reconstruction of the security sector, will not only undo gains on permanent ceasefire but will not attract international funding to reboot the economy and pay for peace time recovery and institutional building.
The winners in Khartoum are Bashir and Yoweri who by the way graciously agreed to grace the event. Now they have the consent of all the parties to walk right back into South Sudan. The losers are the parties to the conflict, the people of South Sudan and the country.
Khartoum is a mirage! I am tired of being a prophet of bad news. I want peace and I wish I can convince myself that it will come out of Khartoum. Unfortunately, I see parties jumping away from the Khartoum framework and I see countries with vested and conflicting interests use the Khartoum Framework to jump in back into South Sudan.
Dr Remember Miamingi, South Sudan Human Rights Observatory