Thursday, July 23, 2009

Steve Paterno writing in SudanTribune...
Even though in its ruling the Court states that the ABC never exceeded its mandate, it goes on to also assert that the ABC did exceed its mandates in other instances. Therefore, the Tribunal then redraws a new map for Abyei. In the new map, the Court confirms Abyei boundaries to the north, at latitude 10º10’N. It however denies the Ngok Dinka their sharing rights to the land farther north at latitude 10º35. To the East, the court draws an intriguing line, purposely isolating the oil fields from Abyei area. To put this ruling in perspective and comparisons, the court new map reduces Abyei area to merely less than a half in size awarded by ABC—which is from 25,293 km²/9,765mi² awarded by ABC to only10, 460 km²/4,039mi² of the reduced size of the Tribunal Court.

This ruling can hardly be accepted for the facts that it grossly deprives South Sudan of its sovereignty and outlaws Ngok Dinka from the rights to their land. At the heart of this dispute and ruling is the natural resource of Abyei, the oil; the very reason NCP clings to the Abyei area. ... Perhaps the real showdown between the SPLM/A and NCP will come during the implementations of this ruling and demarcation of South-North boundaries. Salva Kiir, the chairman of SPLM/A and President of South Sudan at the press conference in awake of the ruling already hinted into this by claiming that he is very sure all the oil fields stolen by the NCP on behest of the Tribunal ruling will fall within South Sudan borders when the boundaries are demarcated. May be the new SPLM/A strategy to recover the already lost valuable land is during the demarcation of South-North boundaries, but how possible is that? In short, the dispute is never over.
I think Steve is wrong about the sovereignty... Abyei roadmap and agreement to abide by decision greatly strengthens South Sudan as sovereign entity. Exercising restraint is one of the key virtues of the sovereign- both parties exercised restraint and thus gained legitimacy, both domestically and internationally.

But the other point Steve Paterno brings up is really interesting, not just because the North-South border has to be fixed before the referendum (and the arbitration panel's precedent now is that straight lines are fine when they are acceptable compromises?) but maybe even more importantly with a vote for independence the North and South will have to negotiate a split of oil revenues again. So Heglig field maybe will get split 75-25 in that negotiation.... The ideal would be for *all* oil revenues to go to a Transparency Fund that would be monitored by... say.... anthropologists like Jane Guyer... wait... that was Chad ;-)

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