We didn’t see this one coming. South Sudan has offered billions of dollars that it doesn’t really have to resolve its many outstanding issues with Sudan proper, its belligerent northern neighbour. Tempting, perhaps, for the cash-strapped regime in Khartoum, but a once-off payment won’t make the problems go away. By SIMON ALLISON.
The press release issued by the government of South Sudan wasn’t particularly detailed, but it did reveal an astonishing negotiating tactic from the new country. “In the interest of peace between the Republic of South Sudan and Republic of Sudan,” it read, “the Government of the Republic of South Sudan has offered billions of United States Dollars to the Government of the Republic of Sudan to resolve all the outstanding post-independence issues that include, but not limited to, the status of Abyei, oil, the international borders between the two countries, and security.”
In simpler language: we’ll give you money, you give us peace. These commodities are in short supply on both sides of the border. South Sudan, although it has lots of oil, definitely doesn’t have the cash reserves to effect this kind of transaction immediately, and is itself highly dependant on international aid. The government in Juba is also feeling the pressure of the cross-border bombing raids launched by Khartoum, as well as various internal rebel factions who aren’t happy with how the power’s been divided in the new country. Sudan, meanwhile, is really suffering thanks to a huge dip in oil revenue occasioned by the south’s secession, and is facing threats on multiple fronts which it is responding to in the only way it knows how: with force.
So, given that Juba can’t really afford it, and given the fact that Khartoum has just withdrawn from new Africa Union-led negotiations on all the tricky issues not solved in the peace agreement which created South Sudan, it’s likely that this new, expensive offer is just a bluff; and that Khartoum won’t call it. DM