By Akuot Alier Mawan,
(Gurtong Edited posted) -In today's world, leaders are always under pressure to act now, rather than spend time reasoning things through and thinking about the true facts. Not only can this lead them to a wrong conclusion, but it can also cause conflict with other people, who may have drawn quite different conclusions on the same matter. This is evident in the United Nations secretary general, Ban K moon’s declaration during the South Sudan occupation of Panthou (which is also referred to as Heglig in North Sudan) oil field in Unity state, South Sudan.
Let‘s look at what the UN secretary general said: “I call on South Sudan to immediately withdraw its forces from Heglig,” Ban said, referring to the capture town in Bentiu, South Sudan. “This is an infringement on the sovereignty of Sudan and a clearly illegal act.” (The Miami Herald April, 2012) Is Mr Ban right? Absolutely not. He is dead wrong.
The Secretary General seemed to have put Panthou in North Sudan but one may wonder how he reached that conclusion. It is considered that the more time one has to think about his choice, the more information and facts he can reflect and, consequently, come up with better decision. It is apparent that Ban Ki Moon did not bother to know the facts of the matter that was before him. That is why "...he sounds like Sudan ambassador to the United Nations rather than the Secretary General of the world’s highest body."
Ban Ki Moon should have known North Sudan and South Sudan geographically better before awarding Panthou to North Sudan. The best question he should have asked himself in order to form a reasonable judgement on the ongoing border issue, was how familiar he was with North Sudan-South Sudan boarders. Mr Ban should also have known whether or not his statement would further complicate the boundary dispute.
Panthou oil field: The location of Panthou oil field is precisely in Unity state in South Sudan according to the 1 January 1956 border.The Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) repeatedly and unambiguously specifies the 1 January 1956 border but the National Congress party (NCP) in the North has constantly rejected to negotiate these areas of the border both within the Technical Boundary Committee and through high level political meeting. For almost eight years, the NCP has time after time refused to discuss in good faith in any meeting, to recognise or accept the findings of the Abyei Boundaries Commission set by the Abyei Protocol of the CPA, or to accept the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (July 2009).
The ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration appears to have caused confusion internationally. The court in The Hague defined Abyei and moved Panthou and Bamboo oil fields to the east of Abyei’s border. This is precisely what it did. The court did not place Panthou in North Sudan; it undoubtedly held that Panthou lies to the east of Abyei.
This is what the permanent court of Arbitration said: “The eastern boundary of the area of the nine Ngok Dinka chiefdoms transferred to Kordofan in 1905 runs in a straight line along longitude 29° 00′ 00” E, from latitude 10° 10′ 00” N south to the Kordofan – Upper Nile boundary as it was defined on 1 January 1956.”
This decision did nothing to resolve where the “1 January 1956 border” really lies. The court did not have the mandate to make determination on the North Sudan-South
Sudan borders, and did not do so. This determination on Abyei boundaries has been misinterpreted by the North Sudan government and international community as a ruling on the borders of Sudan and South Sudan. Also Panthou has been controlled by the Khartoum regime ever since oil was discovered in the area in the 1970s and thus people like Ban Ki Moon just assume that Panthou lie in the Noth. No, that is not correct.
To be brief, the location of Panthou remains in South Sudan but the Khartoum government refuse to negotiate because they think their geographic claim of Panthou has been endorsed by some people such as Ban Ki Moon. The South Sudanese government is wrong to say that Panthou will not be allowed to become a future staging ground for assaults on South Sudan territory. They must make unequivocal statement to claim Panthou as part of South Sudan in accordance with the 1 January 1956 boundary. Panthou geographic status must be determined, or there will be no peace.
No doubt to South Sudanese and many people around the world, except the National Congress Party (NCP) in North Sudan that the UN secretary General did not care as to the impact his untruthful statement may have on North Sudan-South Sudan disputed borders.
Mr Ban’s statement made huge impact not only on South Sudanese but on the whole world and its highest peace institutions. Ban comment led to the African Union, the European Union and the United Nations strong condemnation of south Sudan without regard to North Sudan constant military ground assaults and occupation of South Sudan territory including Abyei and Panthou. This call has also bolstered Al Bashir Islamic regime position in North Sudan and grants it the authority to claim the current disputed areas as well as undisputed areas in South Sudan as part of its territory.
It is disappointing that the United Nation Secretary General did not acknowledge North Sudan military assaults inside South Sudan territory. Our government in Juba was responding to a series of military aggression, initiated by the Sudan Arm Force from Panthou. This antagonism is what provoked the Sudan People Liberation Army to act and will continue to respond should the military aggression occur again.
It is clear that the party that had benefited from this misguided statement is not Ban Ki Moon nor the United Nations or South Sudan but the blood thirsty Islamic regime in the North. Until more informed voices are heard from these vital border disputes, Al Bashir government in Khartoum will feel more encouraged to maintain its position in Panthou, Abyei and other disputed areas along the border.
As we can obviously see, jumping in and start treating the symptoms without consideration of a deeper problem is not constructive. Addressing the real problem is what I believe will relief the UN Secretary General from his huge responsibilities to the world and the two neighbouring countries of Sudan.
However, addressing only what we see on the surface is not a good approach and will almost certainly lead the UN to fixing the same problem again, and again, and again.
The above statement is untrue. It was made carelessly without regard to truthfulness, and if that is the case, then that is unfair.