South Sudan withdrawal from Heglig and the burden of history

by Emeka Chiakwelu

The newly independent nation of South Sudan has officially withdrawn its determined but insufficiently equipped military contingent from the disputed Heglig oil field and the aggressive Khartoum government to the north, The Islamic Republic of Sudan has declared victory.

The Heglig oil field or Panthou oil field as South Sudan called it, is situated in the southern Sudan but the Islamic Sudan has laid hold of it even before South Sudan got her political independent and divorce from Sudan government last year July.

Heglig or Panthou is an oil rich field that Sudan depended on for its wellbeing and its economic significant to Sudan cannot be overemphasized. Reuters reported that the disputed landstrip “The Heglig field is the key to the Sudanese economy because it contributes almost half of the country’s output of 115,000 bpd. Sudan lost three quarters of its output when South Sudan became independent in July last year. Both countries are locked in a row over how much the landlocked new nation should pay to export its crude through the north. ”

The Heglig oil field was operated by the Chinese as it was contracted to Chinese-led operator by Sudan government. The maximum output of 60,000 barrels per day was unaffected as South Sudan captured the peripheral of the oil field before its subsequent withdrawal.

The Khartoum government of President Omar al-Bashir was energetic in its response to the temporary occupation of Heglig oil field. President Bashir’s Sudan mobilized its relatively equipped military force and attacked military troops of South Sudan via land and air. Sudan government also engaged efficiently in a massive public relation strategy to bring the whole world on her side. And Sudan government this time succeeded in bringing the world to her version of its perspective and story on Heglig , this time around the world for the first time condemned South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir.

United Nations and African Union did not hold back in rebuking the actions of South Sudan. Even the United Nations secretary Ban Ki Moon went further with its condemnation and labeled the action of President Salva Kiir’s South Sudan ‘illegal’.

South Sudan withdrawal can be strategic in the sense that it has alerted the global village that its claim on the disputed oil field has not ceased. The critical issue is that the enmity between North and South has not diminished even with southern independent.

South Sudan has the burden that history laid on her shoulder; the land and the people has been deprived with poverty, humiliation and undeniable oppression from the Islamic Sudan government. Now the South Sudan is in the position to assert her independent and dignity. South Sudan since divorce from the north has never shy away from registering its past grievances through peaceful or otherwise. The diplomatic breakthrough enjoyed by South Sudan was achieve by negotiations and settlements through part by fighting and sitting on the table. Therefore South Sudan do have a clear agenda for her actions, but she should adhered to established norms and standard for attainable of peace.

Bashir’s Sudan and South Sudan’sKiir should recognized that military confrontation cannot be the only channel for dispute settlement but through a less destructive path of peaceful negotiation and comprehensive conflict resolution.

BBC reported that “Mr. Kiir said the South still believed that Heglig was a part of South Sudan and that its final status should be determined by international arbitration, Associated Press reported. Heglig is internationally accepted to be part of Sudanese territory – although the precise border is yet to be demarcated. The UK minister for Africa welcomed the news of the withdrawal and urged restraint on both sides.”

President Obama and his administration did a good job in seeing to the implementation of the verses of Sudanese accord and subsequent South Sudan independent. President Obama reiterating of peaceful negotiation for the both parties must be enhanced with urgency and effective backup by United States.

President Obama was in the right direction as he called for negotiated peace on the land. His words “We know what needs to happen — the government of Sudan must stop its military actions, including aerial bombardments,” Obama said. “Likewise, the government of South Sudan must end its support for armed groups inside Sudan and it must cease its military actions across the border.”

Bashir‘s government must be made to understand that more violence begets more violence and everybody will become a loser. As an elder statesman in Africa, he must be gradual and easy on force and continue to exhibit the path he took for the South Sudan to realize its nationhood. At same hand the South Sudan with its heavy heart rooted on history of depravity and destruction should exercise patient and show some goodwill by allowing peaceful negotiation to be the pathway to a peaceful and mutual recognized outcome.

The world must acknowledge the burden of history that was laid on the new independent nation of South Sudan and should be fair on its approach not by throwing raucous and overreaching condemnation when South Sudan stands up for her right. Quite diplomacy and logical appeasement may deem inevitable and necessary when dealing with a new nation that is struggling to stand on her own.

You may also like

Leave a Comment