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Human Security in Darfur, Year's End 2012: South Darfur

Intolerable human insecurity and threats to humanitarian operations in Darfur remain largely invisible; an overview in three parts: South Darfur (Part 2)

By Eric Reeves

January 11, 2013 (SSNA) -- In assessing human security in West Darfur (December 27, 2012, http://www.sudanreeves.org/?p=3684), I began by invoking testimony of the distinguished Gambian jurist Fatou Bensouda, who took up her appointment as Prosecutor for the International Criminal Court in June 2012.  Since she has brought with her a startling honesty and authority in speaking about Darfur, it seems appropriate to recall here what she said to the UN Security Council just one month ago:

"The words of the Government of Sudan representatives, promising further peace initiatives, are undermined by actions on the ground that show an ongoing commitment to crimes against civilians as a solution to the Government's problems in Darfur."

"It should be clear to this Council that the Government of Sudan is neither prepared to hand over the suspects nor to prosecute them for their crimes."

"There are no words to properly express the frustration of Darfur's victims, which we share, about lack of any meaningful progress towards arresting those indicted by the Court. The failure of the Government of the Sudan to implement the five arrest warrants seems symbolic of its ongoing commitment to a military solution in Darfur, which has translated into a strategy aimed at attacking civilian populations over the last ten years, with tragic results. [ ] Victims of Darfur crimes can hardly wait for the day that fragmentation and indecision will be replaced by decisive, concrete and tangible actions they expect from this Council."

"I must reiterate that these alleged ongoing crimes, similar to those already considered by the Judges of the International Criminal Court on five separate applications, may constitute war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide." (UN News Centre, December 13, 2012)

Associated Press reports (December 13, 2012):

"Fatou Bensouda told the UN Security Council that crimes continue to be committed under Sudan’s 'government-avowed goal of stopping the rebellion in Darfur.'  She said the incidents under investigation include bombings and bombardments, the blocking of distribution of humanitarian aid and 'direct attacks on civilian populations.'"

And Reuters reports further (December 13, 2012):

"The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court accused the United Nations Security Council on Thursday of doing too little to bring Sudanese genocide suspects to justice. [ ] Addressing the Security Council in New York, Fatou Bensouda, the court’s prosecutor, said similar crimes continued to be committed in Darfur. She said her team had identified an 'ongoing pattern of crimes committed pursuant to the government-avowed goal of stopping the rebellion in Darfur.'" (all emphases in quotations have been added)

Her words found an unexpected echo in the departing observations of U.S. special representative for Darfur, Dane Smith.  Smith was expediently assigned an impossible task: implement the wildly unpopular Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (July 2011), and improve security and humanitarian conditions in Darfur with only the assistance of UNAMID.  Smith acknowledged the failure of his mission in words that could not be clearer in implication:

"'My biggest disappointment, a year and a half after the signature of the Doha agreement, is that we have seen very limited implementation, particularly of those provisions that bring tangible benefits to the IDPs (internally displaced people) and refugees,' he said. He pointed to the lack of money for a fund set up for reconstruction and development in Darfur, and the government's lack of action to disarm militias as the treaty requiresMilitias were 'more and more seemingly out of control,' particularly in North Darfur, Smith said, although other 'disturbing' incidents had occurred in Nyala in South Darfur and Misterei in West Darfur this month. The Doha treaty suffered another blow last week when the Liberation and Justice Movement [the small and unrepresentative rebel group that is the sole signatory to the DDPD] accused the government of attacking its forces and spreading false reports about the assault."

"'We have to say, quite honestly, that the rule of law is absent from Darfur,' Smith added. The International Criminal Court has issued arrest warrants for President Omar Hassan al-Bashir and other senior Sudanese officials on charges of war crimes and genocide in the region—accusations the officials dismiss as politically motivated fabrications. Smith said attacks on the African Union-United Nations peacekeeping force in Darfur (UNAMID) had also hindered efforts to bring peace to the region. The government had shown 'very little interest' in seriously investigating the crimes and bringing perpetrators to justice, he added. 'For some lawless elements of the population this means there's a perception that it's open season on UNAMID.'" (Reuters [Khartoum], December 12, 2012)

The evidence at hand makes clear that when perpetrators of attacks on UNAMID can be identified—for example, those who participated in the powerfully armed and well-planned attack on a large UNAMID investigative convoy as it moved toward Hashaba (North Darfur)—they are pro-regime militias.  We should not be surprised: this is the same Khartoum regime that has for years constrained, abused, and harassed UNAMID and its predecessor mission AMIS (African Union Mission in Sudan).  Notably, there has never been a prosecution for any attack on UNAMID forces, even as 43 courageous soldiers have lost their lives since the mission began January 1, 2008.  As Smith puts it, "the government has announced investigations, but 'there never are any results.'"

Smith also notes what has long been the case but which he highlights at a critical moment: "[international humanitarian relief] donors, including the United States, face an 'increasingly difficult' time getting staff into Darfur to assess and supervise their aid projects, Smith said."

Here, unfortunately, Smith understates the gravity of the situation: aid organizations are already withdrawing from Darfur, and many are right now deciding—on the basis of a deteriorating security situation and increasing regime restrictions on movement—whether to stay.  An email from a senior and experienced worker for an important humanitarian organization communicated to me his highly informed assessment (email received December 18, 2012):

"It now looks like our work [in Darfur] may not continue. The government restrictions on us are increasing by significant leaps again for the future and we are in the process of deciding whether we can live with them. My vote is 'no' but I'm not sure what the NGO will decide.

"The Sudanese government is deciding who we can hire (especially foreigners, but also to some extent locals), where we can work (no rebel areas), what we can do, and [imposes] controls on our daily movements. This is unacceptable and we can no longer be 'neutral and independent.' There are many ethical issues to process. If we are only allowed to do what they want, I think we are in some ways being complicit with helping them achieve their ends. I want no part of that."

Despite such authoritative accounts—from those directly involved in negotiations, assessing the evidence for prosecution of atrocity crimes in Darfur, and humanitarians on the ground—the UN as a whole, including UNAMID and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), has failed to respond to or even report these grim realities that come so regularly and authoritatively from Radio Dabanga.  But rendering Darfur's realities invisible doesn't change them; and the ignoring, deception, and statistical sleights-of-hand by which these realities are "diminished" are deeply reprehensible.  As a preface to this chronicle of very recent violence in South Darfur, I offer a short history of OCHA's figure for the number of displaced persons in Darfur.  This history reflects many issues, including loss of access; but most conspicuous are the efforts to diminish the scale of violence and displacement in Darfur (the two have always been intimately connected).  And those who have been statistically elided from this figure are of course those typically most insecure.

In its current report on Darfur (the  Sudan Bulletin of January 6, 2013), OCHA declares that the number of Internally Displaced Persons in camps who are receiving food aid is 1,430,000.  In sharp contrast, in its last comprehensive and thoroughly researched report on humanitarian conditions in Darfur—Darfur Humanitarian Profile No. 34January 2009)—OCHA found that there "were nearly 2.7 million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Darfur" and that "an additional two million residents continued to be directly affected by the conflict."  Neither figure for displaced persons includes the more than 280,000 Darfuris who are refugees in eastern Chad, most having been there for many years, some from the very beginning of major conflict in 2003.  Just as importantly, neither OCHA figure for displacement includes those who have been displaced not into camps but rather to live with host families and villages.  This is a very large number, though no effort has been made to establish a credible census.

But how do we get from "2.7 million IDPs" (January 2009) to "1.34 million IDPs receiving food aid in camps" (January 2013)?  How is the displaced population so dramatically reduced in years in which OCHA and UN High Commission for Refugees were themselves reporting huge numbers of newly displaced persons? There are several answers, none of them reflecting well on the UN agencies or UNAMID. 

There may well have been an over-estimate of the number of IDPs in January 2009; a new census was certainly in order.  But even before the research was completed, the former chief UN humanitarian official in Darfur, Georg Charpentier, was citing a study supposedly justifying a reduction in the total figure for displaced persons to 1.9 million.  But the footnoted source for this figure in its first publicly promulgated form (authored by Charpentier) was to this incomplete research and a non-existent report.  In fact, no report on the methodology or findings about IDPs in Darfur was ever publicly released, even as it resulted in a reduction of 800,000 in the figure for displaced persons in the midst of continuing acute violence.

As most would acknowledge, there is little chance of conducting an accurate census at this point in Darfur's brutal history.  Access is routinely denied to both UNAMID and UN agencies as well as to international humanitarian NGOs.  Following Khartoum's expulsion of 13 distinguished and critically important INGOs in March 2009—roughly half the total humanitarian capacity—data, surveys, studies, and analyses have been dismayingly difficult to publicize.  Khartoum's threat of further expulsions, which have in fact occurred, has had a profoundly chilling effect on all reporting about Darfur's realities.

So it is troubling to see offered, without qualification, the figure of 1.34 million displaced persons "receiving food aid in the camps," as if this implicitly represents more extraordinary progress in returns—a further reduction of almost 500,000 in the number of displaced.  But does this really tell us the truth about the total number of displaced persons in the camps?  about the number of those who have returned to their lands and homes?  Is this the result of refined research?  Or does it instead tell us more about the consequences of the lack of access to various camps, and thus more about people who no longer are recorded in the OCHA census of displaced persons in the camps because they are no longer being fed?  This is an extremely serious question, given the precipitous drop in the figure for IDPs: 2.7 million in January 2009; 1.34 in January 2013.  And what do we know about the interim four years hardly makes this extraordinary decline seem more plausible.

The data provided by OCHA, UNHCR, and NGOs indicates that the total for newly displaced persons during the period 2007 to January 2011 was roughly 1.2 million—900,000 since the beginning of 2008.  In the intervening two years, well over 200,000 people have been newly displaced.  More than 100,000 were displaced in Darfur in 2011, mainly in Khor Abeche and particularly Shangil Tobaya, where one especially well-informed source on the ground in Darfur estimated that 80,000 were displaced Radio Dabanga has estimated that 70,000 were displaced in North Darfur in the early days of August 2012 alone, as violence against civilians in North Darfur continued its explosive increase.  (This brings the figure for civilians newly displaced since UNAMID took up its civilian protection mandate—January 1, 2008—to over 1 million.)

OCHA itself gives an implausibly low figure of 90,000 – 100,000 newly displaced persons in 2012, but even this is a very substantial number if we are trying to account for a reduction of 1.35 million in the number of displaced persons. Something is clearly deeply wrong with this statistical assessment; at the same time there is a great deal of evidence that calls into question OCHA's claim that there were 120,000 - 130,000 "returns" in 2012 (see below).  Many of these nominal "returns" have been subject to intolerable violence, murder, rape, pillaging, and the loss of crops to nomadic Arabic herders.  But even if we accept this figure at face value, the net decrease in the number of people displaced is at most 40,000, possibly only half that.  This does not offer much evidence of how the overall figure for displacement has been so dramatically reduced. Ironically, the title to the cover story in this current issue of the OCHA Sudan Bulletin is "Over 30,000 displaced in Jebel Marra, Darfur."

The much more likely explanation is that a great many Darfuris are now simply invisible to a deeply constrained OCHA and the humanitarian community more broadly; both have long been under immense pressure from Khartoum to reduce the figure for displacement.  But as this census is reduced, so too is the urgency of the need for increased humanitarian capacity—and this, too, is precisely what Khartoum wishes: if there is less humanitarian need, there is less need for the presence of obtrusive and all-too-observant foreign relief workers, who are a very small cohort now in any event.

For an ongoing chronicle of UN manipulation of the figure for Darfuri displaced persons, see: 

• "How many Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) are there in Darfur?" Dissent Magazine (April 28, 2011) http://www.dissentmagazine.org/blog/how-many-internally-displaced-persons-are-there-in-darfur

• "The Seen and the Unseen: Recent Reporting on violence, insecurity, and resettlement," (February 29, 2012) http://www.sudanreeves.org/2012/03/02/the-seen-and-the-unseen-in-darfur-recent-reporting-on-violence-insecurity-and-resettlement/

• "The New York Times vs. Radio Dabanga: What is the truth about returns to Darfur from eastern Chad?" (April 2, 2012) http://www.sudanreeves.org/?p=2987

• "Darfur: UN Failure and Mendacity Culminate in an Avalanche of Violence" (August 13, 2012) http://www.sudanreeves.org/2012/08/13/3376/

Khartoum for its part continues to celebrate, often in perversely rapturous terms, the success of its program of returns.  But what Radio Dabanga establishes beyond reasonable doubt is that in fact returns to original homes and lands and villages are in a great many cases extremely dangerous, as claims to these lands have been made by armed Arab groups who show every intention of making these claims stick, whatever level of violence is required.

Darfur delineated

As preface, I again offer here a summary account of some key features of Darfur’s geography. I should emphasize that I preserve in this account the old administrative division of Darfur into three states, instituted in 1994 by the National Islamic Front as a means of weakening the Fur politically (the non-Arab, or African, Fur are the largest ethnic group in Darfur).  These states are West Darfur, North Darfur, and South Darfur. Khartoum's further administrative division of Darfur in 2011—creating an "East Darfur" and a "Central Darfur"—has no basis in history or logic.  It is wholly expedient, the administrative version of "divide and conquer."  Areas in this factitious "Central Darfur" were essentially carved from the old West Darfur, and in speaking about areas and locations of this notional "Central Darfur" I have consistently preserved the older state designation of West Darfur.  The same is true for those parts of "East Darfur" that were formerly part of South Darfur.

In addition to State administrative boundaries, there are Locality and Rural Council boundaries.  These are best represented in what is unquestionably the most comprehensive extant set of Darfur maps and place names, produced by the Humanitarian Information Centre for Darfur in 2005.  These three "Field Atlases," one for each state, are indispensible, both cartographically and as gazetteers with latitude and longitude data (available at West Darfur,  North Darfur, and South Darfur).

Still, there is ambiguity and confusion: sometimes the wide range of transliterations from Arabic makes it difficult to identify specific locations in the Field Atlases; sometimes places that appear in the Atlas gazetteers do not appear on the maps, and sometimes appear on one map but not another (there are a dozen or so maps in each atlas). Sometimes locations are not mentioned at all and can only be estimated on the basis of proximity to a known location.  Sometimes there are repeated uses of the same name (e.g., there are six "Hashaba's" in South Darfur alone, and a great number of names used twice for very different locations).  Sometimes the definite article (al- or el-) appears, sometimes it does not, sometimes it appears one way and other times another way.  There are a great many errors in the data for latitude and longitude, and even in identifying locations.  Still, the detail of these comprehensively researched Field Atlases permits sufficient accuracy that we may gain a clear sense of where most events are occurring and thus see patterns emerging.

One such pattern is the determination of Arab militia forces and armed groups to seize land previously owned and farmed by non-Arab/African tribal groups.  This is especially obvious in the nature of recent violence in South Darfur, which is clearly accelerating. Crops are burned, farms themselves are burned, farmers attempting to return to their lands are murdered, women and girls from their families are raped, and intimidation in various forms makes clear that the violent seizure of arable and pasturable land is far from over, and that the armed groups allied with the Khartoum regime continue to have an overwhelming advantage in land disputes.  This can only fuel further fighting by rebel groups.  Thus despite a decade of conflict, the dynamic of violence is largely unchanged.  The failure of the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur adds a grim emphasis to this basic fact.

A second pattern emerges from the growing number of attacks by Arab militia forces and heavily armed bandits on local police forces, even the judiciary (see below), a few of which have been more responsive to the needs of local people than Khartoum’s SAF or Military Intelligence. The impunity that allows such brazen attacks on police stations to continue—resulting in loss of life, as well as the heisting of arms and valuables, even prisoners—is largely condoned by Khartoum and the Sudan Armed Forces.  No serious effort has been made to halt this highly consequential threat to regional security, and the sense of impunity only grows.

A third pattern evident is the relentlessness of the aerial assault on civilian life, particularly in Eastern Jebel Marra, a populous region of Darfur where the three Darfur states converge. In turn, the international community has simply refused to hold Khartoum accountable for its continuing and egregious violations of international law—the targeting or indiscriminate bombing of civilian sites—and the demands of UN Security Council Resolution 1591 (March 2005), which prohibit all military flights over Darfur—flights of the sort chronicled relentlessly by Radio Dabanga on the basis of eyewitness reports.

The reports on South Darfur below, all from Radio Dabanga (except for one from Sudan Tribune) and almost all from the past three months, are identified by Locality and Rural Council location; I have also highlighted peripheral villages, camps, and towns that are identified by name within the Radio Dabanga dispatches.  A good overview map of Darfur, with nearly all these major geographical markers, can be found in a UN planning map (PDF).  This map will allow a reader of the dispatches below to see clearly just how widespread violence and acute humanitarian distress are, and where civilian insecurity is greatest.

There is one other large issue here that must be noted in offering any overview of South Darfur. UNAMID and the international community have finally found it impossible to continue accepting the rosy picture of Darfur as painted by the likes of former UN/AU special representatives to UNAMID Ibrahim Gambari and Rodolphe Adada. International actors of consequence now also find it untenable to accept claims by the former chief UN humanitarian officer in Darfur, Georg Charpentier, viz., that Khartoum does not interfere at all with humanitarian access and that security is actually improving.  But in moving away from this wholly unwarranted optimism, indeed outright distortion, the face-saving strategy has been to emphasize only violence in North Darfur.  Thus, for example, as recently as mid-September 2012, Dane Smith declared: "West Darfur is relatively stable although there are some problems with criminality there" (Interview with Radio Dabanga, September 21, 2012).  This is utter nonsense and absurdly understates the level of violence in this part of Darfur (see West Darfur survey, December 27, 2012).

While events since late July justify a particular concern for North Darfur—especially in the areas near Kutum, Mallit, Hashaba, and Tabit—this should not work to obscure the obscene violence that continues in both South and West Darfur.  Complete impunity for Khartoum's regular and paramilitary forces reigns everywhere in Darfur.

South Darfur has nine Localities (Nyala, Kass, Adayla, Al Deain, Buram, Tullus, Shearia, Edd al-Fursan, Rehed al-Biridi); each of these has several Rural Council  areas, which are sometimes important identifiers in the accounts that follow (Radio Dabanga frequently uses "Rural Council" and "Locality" interchangeably, which can be a source of some confusion; I have consistently followed the nomenclature of the Darfur Field Atlases).  All this information can be found on the "Administrative Units" page of any one of the Darfur Field Atlases. 

Despite its obstruction of journalists, human rights investigators, humanitarian assessments, as well as its intimidation of UN and nongovernmental relief organizations, Khartoum has found no way to silence Radio Dabanga, and those few courageous individuals on the ground who can speak authoritatively to current security and humanitarian conditions in Darfur (the two have always been inextricably linked).  

And again it should be noted that central to the violence in South Darfur is the determination of Arab militia forces and armed groups (some not from Sudan) to seize land previously owned and farmed by non-Arab/African tribal groups.  Those attempting to return—and no doubt included in UN figures for returns—are often at particular risk and ruthlessly intimidated. 

NB:  By "herders" Radio Dabanga is typically referring in the following dispatches to nomadic Arab groups, often heavily armed; these "herders" have been the mainstay of the Janjaweed, and often of successor paramilitary groups.  "Militants" and "pro-government militia" are also terms used frequently by Radio Dabanga to identify former Janjaweed, elements of the Central Reserve Police (Abu Tira), and other primarily Arab paramilitary groups.

Most dispatches have been edited for length; what have again been most often excised are comments about the ineffectiveness of UNAMID and desperate pleas for international assistance.  They are excruciatingly repetitive.

• Armed herders "severely injure" 2 teenagers in Gereida

GEREIDA (7 January 2013): Armed herders severely injured two displaced teenagers as they were leaving the UNAMID headquarters in Gereida, South Darfur, on Sunday, 6 January, sources told Radio Dabanga. Mohamed Adam Ibrahim, 15 years old, and Mohamed Dahiya Hiima, 16 years old, are in critical condition and were reportedly evacuated to a hospital in Nyala for treatment. A displaced from Gereida said that both teenagers, who live at camp Foriyka, had been visiting UNAMID's headquarters where they were given some food and other goods. On their way back home, they came across a group of three armed herders, who had spent the day shopping in Gereida and tried confiscating the belongings of the victims, the onlooker informed Radio Dabanga. When the teenagers refused handing in their possessions to the herders, the alleged perpetrators opened fire on both of them, a displaced recounted.    

According to the onlooker, the incident happened about 100 meters west of the headquarters of UNAMID. He asserted the mission's forces "simply sketched the crime scene" while explaining that the victims' families had contacted the police.

• South Darfur villagers denounce government evacuation plans

KOLMALAYA (9 January 2013): Residents of the Kolmalaya village, located near the Kalma camp in South Darfur, are denouncing plans by the state's government to evacuate them and transform the area into an industrial zone. The sheikh of the community, Musa Abdullah Teeyrab, told Radio Dabanga last week that South Darfur authorities have assessed the farmlands in order to divide them into smaller properties which would be sold to investors. "This is an example of the policies of the National Congress Party (NCP): to push people out of their lands and bring new residents to the area," the sheikh declared. Teeyrab rejects the decision by the NCP and asserts the land belongs to the current villagers. Residents and the sheikh appealed to the UN to revert the situation, adding that several people from Kolmalaya are being forced to move to the Kalma camp for displaced.

• Gunmen open fire on displaced: 1 killed, 1 injured

GEREIDA (6 January 2013): Four gunmen allegedly opened fire on two displaced men in the area of Nabagaya, close to Gereida in South Darfur on Saturday, 5 January. The incident resulted in the death of displaced Ibrahim Mohamed Ibrahim and the injuring of Adam Moussa. A displaced woman from Gereida told Radio Dabanga that four gunmen opened fire on the two men in the area of Nabagaya, near to Gereida, on Saturday morning at around 11 am when they were collecting firewood.

• Gunmen kill displaced inside his home

SILO CAMP (1 January 2013): Three gunmen believed to belong to a pro-government militia reportedly shot and killed a resident from camp Silo, in Mershing locality, South Darfur on Monday, 31 December. A relative of the victim told Radio Dabanga that Suleiman Ibrahim Yassim was attacked inside his home at about 11pm. According to him, the alleged perpetrators shot the victim five times before raiding his properties and stealing four of his donkeys. Residents from camp Silo told Radio Dabanga about the increasing number of attacks and violations they have been suffering by pro-government militias in the last few days.

• Two displaced men shot in Gereida

GEREIDA (16 October 2012): An armed group shot two displaced persons from Gereida camps in South Darfur, a source told Radio Dabanga. Both men were shot on Saturday night, 13 October and got seriously injured, it was added. According to witnesses, Hussein Hasabo from the Babanusa camp was shot inside the camp and suffered serious injuries on his head and shoulder. They explained that the same group shot another man, Osman Mohamed Osman al-Hadid also on Saturday night, when he was on his way home at camp Abyed.

• Central Reserve Forces (CRF) element rapes 3-year-old girl

KASS (14 October 2012): An element from the Sudanese Central Reserve Forces (Abu Tiraraped a three-year-old girl in Kass, South Darfur on Friday October 12, Radio Dabanga has learned. One of the girl's relatives told Radio Dabanga that an element of Abu Tira troops kidnapped the girl from her home in the neighborhood of Ardeeba, north Kass. The girl's mother was absent at the time of the abduction, she was in a neighboring shop. The family member added that they found the girl in a very bad state at a few kilometers outside of Kass.

• Central Reserve Forces (CRF) elements kill primary school pupil

TOOR (29 October 2012): Elements of the Sudanese Central Reserve Forces (Abu Tira) allegedly murdered a primary school pupil, Abdul Khaleg Zakaria Saleh, on Saturday evening October 27 in the area of Toor in South Darfur, Radio Dabanga has learned. Onlookers told Radio Dabanga that in addition to killing the young pupil, Abu Tira elements arrested both Abdullah Zakaria Saleh, brother of the fatal victim, and Abkar Yousef. The onlookers said that Rahma and Waleed, Abu Tira elements, came to the home of Abdul Khaleg Zakaria Saleh, on Saturday evening. According to witnesses, the gunmen knocked the door until the boy came outside and shot him dead on the spot.

As a result, Toor residents took to the streets to demonstrate against the behavior of Abu Tira troops. When the demonstrators arrived to the town's market, Abu Tira troops fired in the air to disperse them. After which the troops burnt a number of coffee shops in the market and looted its properties. [ ] Abdul Khaleg was killed for preventing the two Abu Tira elements from kidnapping a girl on Friday night, the witness added to Radio Dabanga.

• Manawashy residents complain about attacks

MANAWASHY (30 December 2012): Residents from Manawashy locality in South Darfur have complained about attacks by "pro-government" militants stationed on the roads around the locality since last Wednesday, 26 December. A witness told Radio Dabanga that the "pro-government" militants came from the direction of East Jebel Marra in about 80 Land Cruiser vehicles and were stationed near the garrison east of Manawashy market. He claimed that they assaulted women inside homes and markets, as well as looting of shops and cars along the roads. Besides, the militants fired shots in the air sparking fear and panic among citizens. 

• Displaced killed, 4 injured when returning from farm

KALMA CAMP (4 January 2013): Pro-government militias are accused of killing a displaced man and of injuring four others in Kalma camp, South Darfur, on Friday, 4 January. Sheikh Ali Abdelrahman Taher told Radio Dabanga that several members of a pro-government militia group riding camels opened fire on the displaced as they were heading back from their farms.  The fatal victim is Ali Mohamed Ezzedine and the four injured are Abakar Yaqoub Abdullah, 35 years old; Abdul Rahim Khalil Khater, 35 years old; Isaac Abduzid Ahmed, 40 years old; and Mohamed Mahmoud Ahmad, 44 years old, according to the sheikh. 

• Displaced camps raided by militias, sources

MERSHING / MANAWASHY (12 December 2012): Sources report that alleged pro-government militias have attacked displaced camps and several villages in the localities of Manawashy and Mershing in South Darfur for two consecutive days. Witnesses told Radio Dabanga on Monday, 10 December, that pro-government militias on horses and camels raided the camps of Tom Kitir, Hashaba, Tello and Hillet Shumen in the localities of Manawashy and Mershing localities. They claim that citizens were beaten and their money, cell phones, food and cattle were looted. Lastly, the witnesses said that the militias left the area on Tuesday morning in the direction of Netaiga while firing heavily in the air.

• Herders allegedly kill man in voluntary return village

HUJAIR SAMBO (17 December 2012): Herders allegedly armed by the government killed one man, wounded two others and burned 15 huts at the voluntary return village of Hujair Sambo, in Bilel locality, South Darfur, according to a source. Hussein Abu Asharati, spokesman of association for displaced and refugees, told Radio Dabanga that herders stormed the village and forced their livestock into the farms on Sunday midday, 16 December. When the displaced tried speaking to the herders, the alleged perpetrators shot them, burned the huts and looted the surroundings, according to the spokesman.

He said the attack left Adam Ahmed Gomaa dead and Adam Abdallah and Hussein Ali injured, adding that they come from the Kalma camp.

[NB: In this instance it was a "voluntary return village" that was assaulted; it is critical that the international community understand how dangerous "returns" remain in Darfur, for all the eagerness of the UN and Khartoum to celebrate these sites.]

• Attack on voluntary return village leaves man dead

BILAL (11 December 2012): Pro-government militias launched an attack on a voluntary return village located in Bilal locality, South Darfur, killing one man, the local commissioner told Radio Dabanga. The attack occurred at 11pm on Saturday, 8 December, on the area of Hujair Sambo, the commissioner asserted. He added the militiamen burned 10 houses and killed a citizen after "heavily firing gunshots in the air," stressing the properties losses are "substantial."

• Pro-government gunmen ambush women in Mershing

MERSHING (8 November 2012): A group of displaced women from Mershing camp in South Darfur were allegedly ambushed by pro-government gunmen, on Monday November 5, leaving two of the women seriously injured, witnesses told Radio Dabanga. One of the witnesses added that the gunmen attacked a group of six women while they were harvesting grain in the area of Kringa, west of Mershing locality. The gunmen allegedly attacked the women with the purpose of raping them. The women were beaten with rifle butts and whips when they tried to resist, the witness stated. [ ] Two of them were severely injured and taken to a hospital in Mershing for treatment.

• Gunmen enter Nyala court, beat judge and release defendants

NYALA (10 December 2012): A group of armed men in four Land Cruiser vehicles allegedly raided the headquarters of the Nyala special court for crimes in Darfur on Saturday, 8 December, and kidnapped three defendants after shooting at the court's police and severely beating the judge. The defendants are on trial for looting 450 thousand US dollars and 45 million Sudanese pounds belonging to UNAMID, approximately three months ago. The police commander of South Darfur, Major General Taha Jalal al Deen, said in a press statement that ‘a known armed movement acted immediately after the judge read the sentence of the fourth defendant and attacked the court'. The fourth defendant was sentenced to death, he added. [ ]

'Dramatic escalation'

Witnesses told Radio Dabanga that armed forces with different types of arms arrived in six Land Cruiser vehicles during the sentencing session. The situation escalated 'dramatically' after the verdict was read by the judge, they added. The militants stormed the court and randomly fired in the air. They severely beat the judge with whips, as well as seizing the guards' weapons. Lastly, they abducted three of the defendants and took them to the neighbourhood of Al Tadamon near the neighbourhood of Fallujah in the east of the city where several other vehicles were waiting. According to sources, the militants shortly celebrated their victory expressing joyous chants and heavily firing in the air. Then the militants moved in an unknown direction, accompanied by the defendants.

[It is difficult to imagine a more revealing moment of impunity in Darfur's recent history than this brazen assault on the judiciary itself—ER]

• Boy injured, 700 cattle stolen in Gereida

GEREIDA (6 December 2012): An attack carried out by pro-government militias in the city of Gereida, South Darfur, left one boy critically injured, local witnesses told Radio Dabanga. The boy Saber Hashim was reportedly hurt after the perpetrators, riding horses and camels, stormed Gereida's neighborhoods of Saadoum, Al-Rahman east and west, and Wahaya Al-Wadi at 6pm on Wednesday, 5 December. According to eyewitnesses, militiamen fired several shots in the air, wounding the boy. Afterwards, sources continued, the perpetrators looted 700 heads of cattle that were being brought back to Gereida after grazing outside the town. The assaults allegedly occurred in front of the police and armed forces, sources asserted, expressing their discontent and anger that the perpetrators were not chased or arrested. 

• Herders rape 2, injure 5 in series of attacks

MERSHING (6 December 2012): Armed herders wearing military uniforms have reportedly raped two girls and beat five farmers, two of them female, in Mershing area, South Darfur, eyewitnesses told Radio Dabanga. They said the herders let their livestock graze in the victims' farms during the attacks that happened between Saturday and Tuesday, 1 and 4 December. Sources claimed that three herders were responsible for the assaults, adding they were riding camels. The next day, the perpetrators allegedly assaulted a farmer called Jibril and tried raping his daughter, Asmaa, while they were exiting their land. When the victims resisted the attack, the herders beat them with rifle butts causing Asmaa a serious head injury, a source told Radio Dabanga.  Maryam Mohamed Kouso, who is nine months pregnant, and her aunt Fatima were assaulted on Monday while returning home from their farm, an eyewitness recounted.

The last attack occurred on Tuesday, when herders shot in the direction of farmer Ali Toussa, who was not injured, sources said.  A farmer told Radio Dabanga he notified the police on time about the incidents, but they did not do anything about it.   He stressed that 'a state of terror prevails now in the region' and asked UNAMID, the state and local authorities to protect them and put an end to the attacks.

• Militants allegedly kill two and rape three

GEREIDA (27 November 2012): Two displaced persons were killed and another four injured when an alleged pro-government militia opened fire on them in the village of Kobe at approximately four kilometers from Gereida in South Darfur on Monday morning, November 26, sources told Radio Dabanga. In addition, the militants reportedly raped three girls, after killing and injuring a group of displaced persons. Witnesses, who fled the scene, described the militia as 'loyal to the government' and added that the group consisted of about 18 gunmen on camels and horses. The militants crossed the group of displaced persons, who were working at their farms in the village of Kobe near to Gereida, and randomly opened fire on the displaced without any warning. The witnesses explained that the random firing resulted in the death of Omer Abdel Kareem and Ali Abdel Kareem, both residents of Sabi camp. Additionally, the firing resulted in the injuring of Mariam Dawood Hamad, Haleema Dawood Hamad, Abdullah Abdel Kareem and Nimeiri Abdel Kareem from Gigi camp.  They added that the gunmen raped three girls between 18 and 25 years old, after randomly shooting at the group of displaced.

•Militants open fire against displaced persons

UMM MAGAR (2 November 2012): An armed group of seven militants opened fire against a number of displaced persons, injuring one man, in Umm Magar, South Darfur, witnesses informed Radio Dabanga. The displaced persons were attacked on Tuesday, 30 October, as they were collecting firewood in Umm Magar, located about 10 kilometers from Gereida, they added. According to witnesses' accounts, the displaced man Ibrahim Adam got injured on his foot as a result of the shootings. Sources also pointed out that five of the seven militants were riding camels and horses and that they stole three donkeys from the displaced.

• Sudan: Gunmen Attack Displaced - One Killed, Two Injured

GEREIDA (31 December 2012): A displaced man from Gereida camp in South Darfur has allegedly been killed by pro-government militiamen and two others were wounded in the same incident on Wednesday, 26 December. A female camp activist told Radio Dabanga that around 30 militiamen on camels shot three displaced people who were collecting hay in an area about 3 kilometers south of Gereida. She added that Yasser Osman Ahmed died on the spot and that both Abbas Abdul Rahman and Dugush Suleiman were seriously wounded in the attack. She revealed that the Gereida hospital administration charged an amount of 1400 Sudanese pounds for operating Abbas Abdul Rahman and Dugush Suleima; which the victims cannot afford.

Meanwhile, displaced people from Gereida have described their living and health conditions as 'tragic'. They added that they are not able to leave the camp to make a living or even to go shopping out of fear for attacks and other repeated violations by 'pro-government' militiamen. They disclosed that 12,000 Sudanese pounds had been paid to the Popular Defense Forces commander of the area to recover the livestock and large amounts of money looted by pro-government militiamen, however he has not returned any livestock nor returned any of the 12,000 pounds so far. Furthermore, the displaced have complained that Gereida hospital only executes surgical operations if the procedure is paid in advance. They added that many sick and wounded displaced died as a result of their inability to pay the fees in advance.

• Farmers warn about harvest failure in South Darfur

SOUTH DARFUR (25 December 2012): Widespread unemployment and high harvesting costs will probably lead to the "failure" of the current harvesting season by the end of January, South Darfur farmers warned. They told Radio Dabanga that the likelihood of herders grazing their livestock on farms might also negatively affect the crops. In an interview with Radio Dabanga on Monday, 24 December, Dr. Ibrahim Aldikheiri, minister of agriculture of South Darfur, suggested that conflicts between farmers and herders may continue if harvest is not completed by the end of February.

• Daily gunmen assaults in Bilel

BILEL (2 October 2012): Residents of the Gudd Alhaboub area, in Bilel locality east of Nyala, in South Darfur, have complained about daily assaults by gunmen in the area, on Monday, 1 October. Witnesses told Radio Dabanga the last attack happened on Sunday, 30 September, in which five women were whipped and beaten in five separate incidents. They added that one of these women was stabbed and that two others had their heads shaved by the perpetrators. According to witnesses’ reports, gunmen riding horses and camels, often attacks residents from the area on roads and farms, adding that especially women are targeted. Residents told Radio Dabanga that only last week more than 10 assaults against them took place.

• Gunmen kill three

DARFUR (22 October 2012): Gunmen killed three people in North Darfur, on Saturday October 20, Radio Dabanga has learned. Onlookers told Radio Dabanga that an unknown armed group killed three people in the area of Khazan Wada'a (Wada'a dam), North Darfur. They added that the attack left residents in panic and the perpetrators fled towards South Darfur. According to witnesses, local militias hunted down the perpetrators and killed one of them in the area of Karam Ji, east of Netega locality, South Darfur, and arrested the three other gunmen. The witnesses added that the situation is 'very tense' in the area. They expect the situation to escalate at any time as both armed groups are currently gathering crowds of supporters.

Large-scale violence between rebel forces and Khartoum's regular and militia allies has also accelerated not only in North Darfur but in South Darfur as well:

• Rebel attack on Nyala el-Fasher Convoy (from Sudan Tribune)

KHARTOUM (10 November 2012): Two Darfur rebel groups said they destroyed a Sudanese military convoy after an ambush held on Friday in the road linking the capitals of North and South Darfur states. The Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and Sudan Liberation Movement led by Minni Minnawi (SLM-MM) said they attacked a convoy of the Sudanese troop riding nearly two hundred vehicles of different types and sizes in Al-Fasher Nyala road at Lmmaina village near Shangil Tobaya in North Darfur. The SLM-MM said the bulk of the convoy was destroyed and 20 vehicles full weapons were seized, while JEM military spokesperson Badawi Moussa Al-Sakin said they captured a tank. The Sudanese army spokesperson was not reachable to comment on these statements about the joint attack. SLM-MM spokesperson Abdallah Mursal, accused in a second statement the hybrid peacekeeping mission (UNAMID) of rescuing the Sudanese forces who escaped the attack to Shangil Tobaya.  Mursdal said UNAMID dispatched two helicopters to Shangil Tobaya to transport Sudanese soldiers wounded in the attack to Al-Fasher hospital "The SLM-MM condemns in the strongest terms the UNMAID for disregarding its principal mandate, protection of civilians, Mursal said (…), accusing the mission of taking part in the conflict by protecting the regime’s forces and providing different types of support to the Sudanese army.

As in West Darfur, humanitarian conditions—especially in camps for the displaced—continue to deteriorate:

• Health and educational services 'deteriorating' in Gereida camps

GEREIDA (10 December 2012): Displaced residents from Gereida camps in South Darfur claim to be suffering from a significant deterioration in health and educational services as well as a lack of food and security. Displaced from Gereida camps revealed to Radio Dabanga on Friday, 7 December, that there is one doctor available in the clinic for 30 camps. They added that the camps accommodate around 131,000 families. The camp residents are suffering from a lack of medicine and health care facilities. They pointed out to Radio Dabanga that the clinic charges 700 Sudanese pounds for a Caesarian section procedure and added that the charges are caused by the extortion of health organizations by authorities.

Food rations

Also, the camp residents revealed that the food rations have been reduced; for example a plate of grains is distributed once a month instead of three times a month, besides the reduction in the amount of oil, salt and wheat. Furthermore, the displaced claim that the camps are suffering from a significant lack of teachers at the twenty schools in the camps, as well as a shortage of textbooks. They have appealed to international organizations and the World Food Programme to "offer a helping hand to the displaced of Gereida camps." At the same time, the displaced of Gereida camps have complained about the lack of security in and around the camps. They pointed out that "pro-government militiamen" storm the camps at night, looting their belongings and sparking fear and panic among the residents. The displaced stressed that they are confined to the camps in fear and anticipation of assault, rape, beating and looting by militants. It was added that they repeatedly reported incidents to the police and local authorities as well as UNAMID, but to no avail. 

• Darfur citizens: government secrecy about yellow fever

DARFUR (6 November 2012): Citizens from [ ] West and South Darfur complained about the secrecy of the government of Sudan regarding information about the spread, level of incidence and cause of the yellow fever, Radio Dabanga has learned on Monday 5 November. They also denounced the scarcity of medicines, vaccines, preventive guidance and ambulances for citizens in the most affected regions. In addition, residents demanded that governors of Darfur declare the region a 'disaster area'.

Four dead in Jebel Ahmar

Residents from the village of Goz Miti in Jebel Ahmar, Central Darfur, told Radio Dabanga that 20 people were transferred from Jebel Ahmar to the Nyala hospital on Sunday, adding that four of them died so far. The others, they said, remain in critical condition. They criticized the government saying it does not care about the health of its citizens nor does it seek to treat them. Lastly, the citizens appealed to health international organizations led by the World Health Organization (WHO) to rush to the affected areas and provide them with urgent medical aid and health care.

West Darfur: nine dead

The Minister of Health from West Darfur, Ahmed Ishag Ya'goub, announced that nine people died and another 36 got infected with yellow fever as of Sunday.

According to him, these numbers refer to one death and 18 infections in Mornei, Krenik locality; to six deaths and 10 infections in Habila locality; and to two deaths and eight infections in El-Geneina locality. The minister stressed that yellow fever is emerging in a number of localities in West Darfur.

Nyala hospital: 37 new patients

At the same time, Dr. Ali Merghani, director of epidemiology from the Nyala hospital in South Darfur, revealed to Radio Dabanga that 37 new patients infected with yellow fever arrived at the hospital on Sunday. The director said that 19 of these people come from Central Darfur and 18 come from South Darfur. Merghani added that on Monday, the hospital received six cases from new localities in Darfur.

• Half of Darfuris lack access to health care

KHARTOUM/EL-GENEINA (19 October 2012): The Sudanese federal ministry of health and its partners from the international community on Khartoum revealed that half of the population in Darfur do not have access to primary health care, Radio Dabanga has learned on Thursday, 18 October. As a result, the ministry announced it will work to improve the health sector in all of the five states of Darfur together with its partners, and include relief and emergency initiatives.

[This is the most obscene disingenuousness: the reason that only half the population of Darfur has access to primary health care is because Khartoum has deliberately targeted for expulsion the organizations most effective in providing such care, including Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (France and Holland sections), Médecins du Monde, and a number of others; those organizations remaining are all contemplating withdrawal because of the regime's continuing harassment, obstruction, and denial of access—ER]

• Deteriorating security conditions in Dreige camp

DREIGE CAMP (25 September 2012): Residents from the Dreige camp in South Darfur, are complaining about the deteriorating security conditions, a camp's representative told Radio Dabanga on Monday, 24 September. He explained that residents are suffering repeated attacks from Sudanese Central Reserve Forces troops (Abu Tira) stationed near the camp. The camp's youth representative said Abu Tira forces often assault the displaced persons, explaining that looting and random air shootings are common practices.

Khartoum has also been active in exacerbating ethnic tensions along the border between South Darfur and South Sudan (Northern and Western Bahr el-Ghazal).  This may pose the greatest threat to renewed violence in the region, and on a scale that will create many tens of thousands of newly displaced civilians.

• Rizeigat blame Khartoum for border conflict with South Sudan

KHARTOUM (29 December 2012): The Rizeigat tribe, living on the border between Sudan [South Darfur] and South Sudan blames the Khartoum government for the recent border clashes in the Samaha area, also known as Warguet.  Rizeigat chief, Nasr (king) Mahmoud Moussa Madibo, told Radio Dabanga and Radio Tamazuj in a joint interview that his tribe was not involved in the attacks on the south Sudan army (SPLA) on Wednesday 26 December. In retaliation for the attacks, the SPLA shelled the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF), causing several casualties also among the Rizeigat tribesmen, the leader explained.

The Rizeigat leader said: "The government of Khartoum is responsible for the attack. But the Rizeigat want to restore the relationship with the Dinka Malual and the government of the Republic of South Sudan. We as Rizeigat emphasize that we don't have any connection to this attack. We have not at all been involved in any of these actions. The government of Sudan mobilized all of its troops and attacked the SPLA-positions along the river Bahr al Arab (Kiir) to fight the SPLA (South Sudan)."  He added: "They accuse South Sudan of supporting and building the Darfur rebel movement and the SPLA-North [in South Kordofan]. But we as Rizeigat do not want to be blamed for this. As a tribe we will not fight another country. We understand that the government of South Sudan has the right to defend itself and to open a case against Khartoum if they want."

On Thursday the Sudan Armed Forces blamed the SPLA of South Sudan of shelling the Rizeigat tribe and denied having started the border conflict. The South Sudan government accused SAF of carrying out two air strikes, in which several civilians were killed. The area along the river is a disputed territory between Sudan and the new republic of South Sudan. It is currently controlled by the South Sudan army.

Eric Reeves, a professor at Smith College, is author most recently of Compromising with Evil: An archival history of greater Sudan, 2007 – 2012; www.CompromisingWithEvil.org 

Princeton Lyman Resigns as U.S Special Envoy for Sudan: A Grim Legacy

By Eric Reeves

December 31, 2012 (SSNA) -- With much contrived celebration by President Obama, U.S. special envoy for Sudan Princeton Lyman this month resigned—without explanation, and without discernible success.  As he retires, he leaves uncounted hundreds of thousands of civilians at risk of starvation in the Nuba Mountains of South Kordofan and in Blue Nile, both embattled regions of Sudan facing ruthless campaigns of annihilation by the regular and militia forces of the Khartoum regime.  Darfur also remains the scene of a grim genocide by attrition, having been relegated to the diplomatic back-burner by Lyman and others in the Obama administration—this despite Obama's impassioned rhetoric about "genocide in Darfur" during the 2008 presidential election. And greater Sudan—Sudan and South Sudan—are perilously close to renewed war; violence earlier this year flared up along a contested border in the richest region of oil production, nearly tipping the two countries into much wider fighting.

The contested region of Abyei—seized militarily by Khartoum early in Lyman's tenure—remains a dangerous flash-point for renewed conflict, as does the so-called "Mile 14" band of land south of the River Kiir in Northern Bahr el-Ghazal State (to the west of Abyei).  Nearly all issues left unresolved following Southern independence in July 2011—issues stipulated specifically in the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA)—continue to pose threats of further violence, even full-scale war.  The economies in both Sudan and South Sudan are in a dangerous free-fall that creates immense pressures on political and military actors in both Khartoum and Juba.  Khartoum refuses to abide by an agreement on oil transport signed under the auspices of the African Union on September 27, 2012—and subsequently endorsed by the AU Peace and Security Council.  The economic meltdown consequent upon a loss of oil revenues brings a host of threats to both countries, mainly that of a massively destabilizing hyper-inflation.

Lyman's tenure began in early 2011 as the issue of Abyei was coming to a boil.  Failure to resolve the issue symbolized larger failures by both the Bush and Obama administrations to see through implementation of the CPA signed by Khartoum and the South. Although the issues involved in Abyei's status had been definitively resolved—both in the CPA's "Abyei Protocol" and in a "final and binding" ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration (2009)—Lyman and Obama administration officials pushed the South to "compromise" yet further over Abyei with Khartoum. The regime rightly saw this as a sign of expediency and concluded it could militarily seize Abyei without significant consequence.  This is precisely what happened on May 21, 2011, despite several months of visible military build-up.  More than 100,000 indigenous Dinka Ngok were displaced, and the vast majority remain displaced in South Sudan a year and a half later.

Not coincidentally, following feckless condemnations of the Abyei seizure by Lyman and other international actors, Khartoum launched another massive military campaign two weeks later in South Kordofan, this time against the African tribal groups of the Nuba Mountains.  Although nominally targeting indigenous rebel forces, Khartoum's butchery fell primarily on Nuba civilians.  Killings, torture, rape, and mass internment defined June 2011 for Nuba in Kadugli, capital of South Kordofan.  Mass graves, capable of containing tens of thousands of bodies, were confirmed both by satellite imagery and multiple eyewitness accounts, many reported by a UN human rights team that was stationed in Kadugli during this grim month of Rwanda-like violence.  Lyman expressed skepticism, despite the evidence, and in at least one case denied realities on the basis of U.S. "intelligence" that was either erroneous or fabricated.

Khartoum's brutal assault continues in the form of relentless aerial bombardment throughout the Nuba, including systematic destruction of foodstocks and agriculture.  Hundreds of thousands of people are slowly starving to death, hundreds of thousands more have been displaced (a great many to South Sudan)—and yet Khartoum refuses all humanitarian access.  Despite a proposal on access for relief organizations made by the Arab League, the African Union, and the UN—February 2, 2012—Khartoum adamantly refuses to accept the proposal except in the abstract (the indigenous rebel group, the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army-North, signed immediately in order to protect civilians).  The reality is that no food, medicine or shelter is reaching the Nuba except by surreptitious means, and these are not remotely adequate to the scale of the crisis.  The entire duration of this barbaric refusal to allow humanitarian access has occurred during Lyman's tenure.

Part of the problem is that Lyman initially refused to credit the many reports of what was occurring in South Kordofan, and scoffed at claims of a repeat of the well-documented genocide in the Nuba Mountains during the 1990s: "Nuba Mountain people are fighting back and I don't think the North is capable of dislodging large numbers of people on an ethnic basis…. That's the reality on the ground. Second, I’m not sure that's the objective of the government…."

Both claims have been spectacularly upended by well-established facts on the ground; eighteen months later, as Lyman resigns, humanitarian access still hasn't been secured and many hundreds of thousands have been displaced—and continue to be displaced—by Khartoum's tactics, according to the UN.  A similarly brutal campaign of extermination began in neighboring Blue Nile on September 1, 2011.  Relentless aerial bombardment of civilians and civilian agriculture, mass killings, rape, village destruction—all familiar tactics in Khartoum's counter-insurgency warfare were fully in evidence throughout Blue Nile.  Here, too, Khartoum has denied all humanitarian access.  Interviews with fleeing refugees provide horrific accounts that in aggregate provide the basis for a genocide indictment.  Altogether, some 300,000 civilians have fled the Nuba and Blue Nile to South Sudan and Ethiopia; hundreds of thousands of those remaining are displaced and largely without food.  And with the advent of the dry season, tens of thousands more are on their way southward—at least those strong enough to make the trek.  Many simply die where they are or during the journey to refugee  camps.

All of this has occurred during the tenure of retiring U.S. special envoy Princeton Lyman.

As catastrophe was growing along the border and in Blue Nile and the Nuba, Lyman continued the policy of "de-coupling" Darfur from primary U.S. Sudan policy concerns, in particular whether to continue U.S. designation of Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism.  Lyman's hopelessly incompetent predecessor, Air Force Major General (ret.) Scott Gration, had declared that there was nothing but politics behind this designation.  He seemed content to ignore the fact that Khartoum has allowed Sudan to serve as a conduit for weapons from Iran to Hamas in Gaza, many of these recently put on grim display.  Lyman simply failed to address the issue.

"De-coupling" Darfur (declared publicly in these terms by senior administration officials in November 2010) has been justified by Lyman on the basis of a meaningless agreement negotiated in Qatar.  But the "Doha Document for Peace in Darfur," signed July 2011, has done nothing to improve human security or humanitarian access in a region that has endured ruthless assault for a decade.  Instead, both security and relief access have deteriorated significantly since the agreement was signed.  This is unsurprising: virtually all Darfuri civil society groups and rebel factions have bitterly rejected the DDPD, which was signed only by Khartoum and a small, factitious rebel group (the "Liberation and Justice Movement") cooked up by Libya's Muamar Gadhafi and Gration.  Yet even as Dane Smith, the Obama administration diplomat working until very recently on Darfur, now admits Khartoum has met none of the DDPD's security or reconstruction commitments, Lyman has pushed the agreement as a viable plan for peace.  This was disingenuous and deeply destructive of the chances for real peace or at least an improvement in security and humanitarian access.

Central in Lyman's policy vision is a perverse insistence on "moral equivalence" between Khartoum and the South, holding each equally responsible for the failure of negotiations as well as for cross-border violence.  But the evidence available will simply not support such conclusions.  The moral, political and negotiating equities of the two countries are simply not the same—not concerning Abyei, or negotiation of border delineation and demarcation, or in supporting rebels in the territories of the other.  Most notably, only Khartoum has an air force, which it uses to conduct relentless bombing attacks on civilian and humanitarian targets throughout Sudan, as well as in South Sudan's border regions.  Both are egregious violations of international law, and the latter attacks are acts of war.  It has seemed expedient for Lyman not to make mention of these conspicuous facts.

It was finally an expedient "moral equivalence" that underlay Lyman's bizarre claim last year: "we do not want to see the ouster of the [Khartoum] regime, nor regime change. We want to see the regime carrying out reform via constitutional democratic measures."  The notion that this brutally repressive regime can preside over reform via "democratic measures" is absurd.  There is not a shred of historical evidence to support such a conclusion.  Indeed, the most powerful northern rebel political movement (the Sudan Revolutionary Front, which includes the SPLA/M-N) is avowedly working for regime change; the U.S. position as articulated by Lyman is recognized by the SRF as cynical, and perversely motivated. 

Indeed, like so much in U.S. Sudan policy, it is a fig-leaf for more ruthless calculations about geopolitical interests in the Horn of African and Khartoum's perceived usefulness in combatting terrorism.  This, sadly, is the essence of current U.S. Sudan policy, and millions of people finds themselves at acute risk because of this moral myopia.  It is Princeton Lyman's grim legacy.

Eric Reeves, a professor at Smith College, is author most recently of Compromising with Evil: An archival history of greater Sudan, 2007 – 2012; www.CompromisingWithEvil.org 

South Sudan and the East African Community: Pros, Cons and Strategic Considerations

By Laura Nyantung Beny and Matthew Snyder*

December 26, 2012

Editor's note: * Laura Nyantung Beny is Professor of Law at the University of Michigan Law School. Matthew Snyder graduated from the University of Michigan Law School with a J.D. in 2012 and is currently an LLM candidate at the Faculty of Law, University of Toronto. This is an abbreviated version of a longer report, researched between 2011 and 2012 by Matthew Snyder and Laura Beny. The longer report is available upon specific request to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Introduction

December 29, 2012 (SSNA) -- In November 2012, a technical committee of the East African Community (the “EAC”) recommended to the body’s Council of Ministers that South Sudanese admission be delayed until the country is able to satisfy various economic and institutional pre-conditions to membership.[1] However, there is little doubt that South Sudan will eventually join the EAC. Given that EAC membership is inevitable, we argue that South Sudan should conduct a careful analysis of the implications of joining the EAC and, with its findings in hand, astutely negotiate the terms of its EAC membership.

We first offer a brief overview of South Sudan’s development challenges. Next, we provide a short history of the EAC – its origins, demise and subsequent resurrection – followed by a description of the current EAC framework. We then address potential advantages and disadvantages for South Sudan from EAC membership. Finally, we suggest that South Sudan should carefully study the pros and cons and develop a well-considered strategy to optimize the benefits and mitigate the costs of EAC membership.

South Sudan’s Economy and Development Challenges

South Sudan is very rich in natural resources, including but not limited to oil. However, it faces significant economic challenges that largely stem from the fact that the country overwhelmingly depends on oil for public revenues (98% is the commonly-cited figure) and the fact that the country is land-locked with poor infrastructure.

Pursuant to the “Dutch Disease” process, a massive influx of oil revenues can cause real exchange rate appreciation and thus cause a shrinkage in the domestic tradeable goods sector (i.e., export), while increasing the country’s reliance on imports.  This is detrimental to the country’s trade deficit and to economic diversification. Oil dependence also exposes the economy to international commodity price volatility, negatively impacting South Sudan’s ability to engage in long-term fiscal planning.[2]

In contrast, diversification of South Sudan’s economic base will generate substantial benefits, such as increased employment and income opportunities in urban and rural areas and lower consumer prices.[3]

Economic theory and evidence underline the importance of export-led growth. Such growth is most effective when it centers on sectors in which the country has a competitive advantage, meaning it can produce those goods at relatively lower opportunity cost than its trading partners. In South Sudan, one of the most promising sectors is agriculture.  The country’s “green belt” provides a fertile ground for a productive agricultural sector. 

Not only would development of the agricultural sector contribute to export-led growth, but it would increase South Sudan’s food security and lower dependence on agricultural imports from neighboring countries, like Uganda and Kenya. It would also create income and employment opportunities in rural areas of South Sudan, which desperately need economic vitalization. Other highly promising economic sectors in South Sudan include livestock, animal products, and timber. Consumer demand for these products, like agricultural goods, is high in the region.[4] National investment and trade policy should focus on these sectors in which South Sudan has a potential competitive advantage.

However, South Sudan faces considerable challenges in developing these sectors and promoting their exports. Such challenges include real exchange rate appreciation (“Dutch Disease”, as described above), poor transportation infrastructure inside South Sudan and between South Sudan and neighboring countries, and South Sudan’s poor capacity in value-added production. Poor transportation infrastructure increases the cost and time required to export goods abroad. Outdated capital stock and shortages of skilled labor currently hinder development of competitive industries. 

Cross-border trade is also stifled by institutional constraints, such as multiple (and often arbitrary) checkpoints and roadblocks and other burdensome customs regulations. Insecurity, violence and crime also increase the cost of transporting goods. As we explain below, EAC membership could help South Sudan to overcome several of the foregoing hindrances to trade.

A Short History of the East African Community

The current EAC framework dates back to common market structures created by the British during colonial times. The aim was to link the economies of the present day countries of Uganda, Tanzania, and Kenya, the latter occupying a position of prominence within the colonial market system. Following independence, Uganda, Tanzania, and Kenya continued to maintain close ties and, in 1967, entered into a treaty formally establishing the first EAC. 

The main goal of the first EAC was to establish an East African Common Market. To this end, the three members promulgated agreements prohibiting quantitative restrictions on members’ exports and eliminating tariffs on intra-member trade. The first EAC also provided for coordinated efforts towards external trade, including a common external customs tariff and limitations on members' ability to enter into trade agreements with non-member countries.

While the main focus of the first EAC was economic, members also envisioned it as a pathway to wider regional integration. For instance, the first EAC supported the common provision of certain services to member countries through the development of regional corporations such as East African Airways, East African Telecommunications, and East African Railways.

EAC members also envisioned that certain national governmental functions would eventually be delegated to common administrative organizations like the East African Customs and Excise Department, East African Income Tax Department, and East African Civil Aviation Directorate. They also discussed possibilities for harmonizing fiscal and monetary policies and creating an East African Authority to perform the Community's executive functions. Indeed, some countries viewed the first EAC as a stepping-stone towards comprehensive Pan-African integration.

The first EAC was also designed as an instrument to promote regional development.  The organization institutionalized a system of unequal resource distribution in order to bring all member countries to the same level of development. For instance, notwithstanding provisions forbidding intra-member tariffs, less developed members were permitted to impose a transfer tax on manufactured goods in order to remedy trade deficits vis-à-vis more developed members. In addition, the East African Development Bank (EADB), an institution created to provide financial and technical assistance to members and help promote development efforts, was required to invest a greater percentage of its funds in less developed members' projects.

While the first EAC was initially viewed as a great success, it gradually atrophied amid disagreements over unequal distribution of economic benefits, administration of common services, and differing political ideologies. The first EAC collapsed in 1977, reversing regional integration at great expense to the former members.

Aspirations of regional integration eventually resurfaced as the region returned to stability. Such aspirations were eventually solidified in 1993 when the Presidents of Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda signed the initial protocols to revive the EAC. The EAC was officially re-established through creation of a Secretariat in 1996 and completion of the Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community ("The EAC Treaty") in 1999. 

Following ratification by the three member states in 2000, the EAC was inaugurated in 2001 and was expanded to its current five-country membership through the accession of Rwanda and Burundi in 2007. As of 2010, the Community represented a single market of around 133.5 million people with a total output of 74.5 billion USD. Current members include Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi. South Sudan is expected eventually to join.

Like the first EAC, the goals of the current EAC extend beyond the economic sphere. According to the EAC Treaty, integration includes “cooperation among the Partner States in political, economic, social and cultural fields, research and technology, defence, security and legal and judicial affairs"[5]  We shall focus on the EAC’s framework for trade cooperation: the Customs Union.[6]

Current EAC Framework for Regional Trade Integration: Customs Union

The EAC has moved towards trade integration through the establishment and partial implementation of a Customs Union.[7] The Customs Union is jointly administered through a decentralized administrative structure. While national authorities in each EAC member country oversee functions such as revenue collection, a central administrative body established under the EAC Secretariat is tasked with setting common policies. 

The purpose of the Customs Union is to promote efficient production within the EAC; liberalize trade among EAC members; enhance domestic, intra-EAC, and foreign investment in member countries; and promote economic development and diversification within the EAC.[8] EAC Customs Union agreements[9] have established several mechanisms for implementing the Customs Union, including a Common External Tariff (CET), gradual elimination of internal tariffs and non-tariff barrier regulations, among others.[10]

  • Common External Tariff (CET)   

Pursuant to the Customs Union, goods imported into the EAC from outside the EAC are subject to a Common External Tariff (CET). According to the CET, imports to the EAC are subject to one of three CET rates. First, primary goods and capital goods are not subject to duties.[11] Second, intermediate goods that require additional processing are subject to 10 per cent tariff rates. Third, finished goods that require no additional processing before consumption are subject to 25 per cent tariff rates.[12]

In addition, EAC partner states have agreed on a list of sensitive products produced and exported within the EAC for which importation from outside the EAC could have a negative impact on production within the EAC.[13]  Goods designated as sensitive face higher tariff rates than other products and such rates are not limited by the standard CET schedule outlined above. As of 2009, 58 sensitive products had been singled out for increased protection and elevated tariffs, which reach 100 percent in some cases (Id.). Examples of sensitive goods include milk and cream (CET rate is 60%), rice (CET rate is 75%) and Sugar (CET rate is 100%).[14] 

However, goods in transit and some important goods (such as certain medical equipment, seeds, fertilizers, and mosquito nets) are not subject to duties.[15]  In addition, new partner states entering the EAC may in theory stay application of CETs on a provisional basis[16] and a framework for granting provisional exemptions from CETs to established EAC partner states also exists.[17]  These provisions, as we explain below, could be of critical importance to South Sudan.

  • Gradual elimination of internal tariffs

Tariffs between EAC partner states are to be eliminated through the EAC Customs Union. However, in recognition of partner states' differing development levels, the EAC Treaty allowed unequal treatment among EAC members. In addition, intra-EAC tariffs between the three original partner states were gradually, rather than immediately, phased out. Thus, while tariffs on exports between Uganda and Tanzania, and exports from these two countries to Kenya were removed, certain exports from Kenya to Uganda and Tanzania initially remained subject to tariffs. 

Gradual reductions thus allowed the three original EAC partner states time to reduce dependence on tariff collection and provided their domestic industries time to adjust to changes. South Sudan’s EAC negotiators should keep this option in mind, as we note below.

Potential Advantages of EAC Membership for South Sudan

South Sudan's accession to the EAC could have significant positive economic effects on the region.[18] For example, South Sudan is one of the most lucrative markets for Ugandan goods and services, and South Sudan’s EAC membership would further expand Uganda’s access. Furthermore, South Sudan’s oil and mineral wealth and agricultural potential may present attractive investment opportunities for the entire region.  

EAC membership also promises many benefits to South Sudan, several of which follow.

  • More efficient border clearance and information exchange

EAC integration would result in the harmonization of regional standards and the reduction of customs clearance procedures. As discussed above, regional trade between South Sudan and its neighbors is often constrained by inefficient border clearance procedures. It is also hindered by disparate product standards, and imperfect communication and information exchange between producers and traders on one side and markets and consumers on the other. 

If, as expected, EAC membership results in harmonized procedures, better communications and information exchange, it will make regional trade cheaper and more efficient for South Sudan.

  • Lower transportation costs, transit times and dependence on Sudan

A landlocked country, like South Sudan, could greatly benefit from access to deepwater ports and urban population centers in EAC countries like Uganda and Kenya. Uganda, in fact, has begun construction of a railroad linking Kampala to Juba and Kenya has proposed construction of a regional pipeline to transport oil from South Sudan to Kenyan oil refineries and ports on the coast.[19] 

Access to other regional corridors through EAC membership could dramatically increase South Sudan's competitiveness and revenue. Moreover, such access may be essential if the Republic of the Sudan persists in imposing high transport fees on certain South Sudanese exports, particularly oil.[20]  However, these benefits are contingent on the success of other EAC integration programs, such as implementation of harmonized standards, more efficient customs clearance procedures, and reduction of non-tariff barriers.

  • Support for infrastructure and financial development

EAC cooperation programs on the provision of power, transport, and water could spur infrastructure development in South Sudan. The 2006-2010 EAC Development Strategy, for instance, emphasized the importance of adequate and reliable provision of infrastructure "through the sharing of the production, management, and operations of infrastructure facilities." The Strategy also listed energy, road, and information and communication technology infrastructure provision as a priority. Improved physical and information infrastructure would reduce production and distribution costs for South Sudan, making its producers more competitive.

In addition, EAC membership would give South Sudan the ability to join and buy shares in the East African Development Bank (EADB), which would help strengthen the country's financial infrastructure and provide South Sudanese entrepreneurs with access to technical and financial assistance.[21] Relatedly, financial services investment from Uganda and Kenya could decrease borrowing costs for South Sudanese entrepreneurs and thereby aid in poverty reduction.[22] 

  • Knowledge transfer to South Sudan from other EAC partners

EAC membership could result in knowledge transfer from partner states to South Sudan. Kenya, for instance, possesses expertise in financial services, while Tanzania has expertise in investment facilitation and Uganda has competence in coffee production.[23]  Transfer of some of this know-how to South Sudan would aid the development of domestic industries. Finally, educational services investment from EAC partners is likely to increase educational opportunities and the quality of educational instruction in South Sudan.[24]

  • Regional market for South Sudan’s exports and services

EAC membership offers the prospect of an important regional market for South Sudanese exports and services. According to some commentators, Uganda has the potential to become a significant importer of South Sudanese products like coffee and gold.[25]  In addition, EAC countries are likely to buy South Sudanese oil, if given the opportunity. Regional demand and protective EAC tariffs could also support growth in South Sudan’s agricultural sector, which is critical, as discussed above. Given high CETs on agricultural products, trade among EAC partners is somewhat shielded from non-EAC competition.[26] 

Moreover, as implementation of the EAC Common Market continues, citizens of South Sudan would benefit from increased employment opportunities in other EAC Partner States, more efficient and harmonized processes for issuing work permits, and freer movement within the EAC.  In addition, increased remittances from more South Sudanese working in EAC countries could help promote rural development and serve as an important source of revenue for rural families. 

  • Promotion of investment and competitiveness

EAC membership would support the development of predictable, consistent and transparent regional economic policy frameworks and thus promote investment in the region, including South Sudan. For example, planned harmonization of EAC partner states' taxes and investment incentives is likely to attract foreign investment.[27] More generally, greater openness and economic integration may increase South Sudan's overall economic competiveness.[28] 

Moreover, various EAC cooperation programs could help increase political stability and improve security in South Sudan, resulting in both economic and non-economic benefits.  In particular, enhanced EAC cooperation to prevent terrorism, armed robbery, and drug smuggling has decreased crime and resulted in increased security in the region.[29]  Some have also argued that an EAC security infrastructure program currently being discussed could "act as a deterrent against Khartoum's aggressive stance towards Juba."[30]  

Other EAC cooperation programs target important issues such as natural resource management and conservation, provision of health services, and food security.[31]  If these programs increase regulatory harmonization throughout the region, they may reduce the costs of economic exchange between South Sudan and other EAC countries.[32]

  • Positioning of South Sudan as regional corridor for EAC exports to non-EAC countries

EAC membership could position South Sudan as a regional corridor for EAC exports to non-EAC countries. Rwanda, for instance, has predicted that EAC membership will help it become a regional corridor for trade between the Democratic Republic of the Congo (the “DRC”) and the EAC.  Given its location, South Sudan could also become a regional corridor between EAC and non-EAC countries in the region, such as the DRC and Ethiopia. This would allow South Sudan to generate revenue through transportation support services and other related enterprises. 

South Sudan could also possibly become a critical conduit for trade between the region and the Republic of the Sudan, possibly increasing its political and economic bargaining power with its northern neighbor.

  • Stronger international negotiating leverage for South Sudan

EAC membership is likely to strengthen South Sudan’s relative position within the world system. EAC membership provides partner states a stronger, collective negotiating position that could result in deeper bilateral and multilateral trade concessions vis-à-vis non-EAC members. The EAC, for instance, is currently negotiating a collective Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union (EU).[33] The EAC's negotiating power could also be leveraged in future multilateral and bilateral negotiations, thus resulting in better benefits for all partner states.[34] Also, as noted above, EAC membership could strengthen South Sudan’s bargaining stance vis-à-vis the Sudan.

Potential Disadvantages of EAC Membership for South Sudan

While regional integration may offer many benefits for South Sudan, there are also several potential disadvantages, a few of which follow.

  • Reduction in trade and investment autonomy and tariff revenues

The EAC economic bloc requires uniform standards across partner states. As partner states have differing trade capacities and differing development strategies, compromises are necessary. Uganda, for instance, was forced to adjust its export-oriented growth model and increase its external tariff rates to comply with the CET.[35]  Kenya and Tanzania, in contrast, were forced to reduce protective external tariffs in response to CET.[36]

While some reservations and exemptions are possible, South Sudan may need to at least partially adjust its trade, investment, and development policies in response to common EAC goals. In addition, conversion to the CET and elimination of intra-EAC tariffs could result in lost tariff revenue and limit South Sudan's ability to implement autonomous trade and investment promotion programs.

  • Increased prices for critical consumption goods

EAC membership may have negative effects on South Sudanese consumers. For instance, certain products such as rice, fresh and concentrated milk, maize, sugar, and wheat are currently designated as "sensitive" and thus face higher CET tariff rates.[37]  Higher CETs on imports of such fundamental consumption goods is likely to increase their prices and therefore the cost of living. This effect occurred in Rwanda, especially in urban areas. 

Needless to say, a higher cost of living could make EAC membership politically unpopular among the population.

  • Competitive disadvantage of domestic producers and entrepreneurs

The required elimination of intra-EAC tariffs and non-tariff restrictions could result in an influx of goods and services imports from more developed countries like Uganda and Kenya. Domestic producers already have a difficult time competing with producers from other East African countries in production, distribution, and access to finance.[38] Even the agricultural sector, which has great natural potential, is currently unable to compete with neighboring producers.

And, this effect may be magnified when South Sudan joins the EAC. If so, some domestic producers in South Sudan will lose out.  Some experts, in fact, have expressed concerns that South Sudanese accession to the EAC within a few years of independence would undermine the development of domestic industry.[39] 

One way that South Sudan might mitigate this effect is by negotiating temporary exemptions to protect emerging domestic industries, as we discuss below.

  • Trade diversion rather than trade creation, and limited gains from trade

Some commentators have questioned the utility of EAC trade integration generally, since partner states' economies are neither very complementary nor very competitive.[40] As a result, they predict, trade gains from regional trade will be the result of trade diversion rather than trade creation.[41] If these commentators’ predictions are correct, not all EAC members will benefit from greater trade integration and South Sudan, as a less developed EAC member, may be particularly susceptible.[42] In addition, some partner states have questioned whether regional markets in the EAC are large enough to support economic growth in the region. Rwanda and Kenya, for instance, have begun to explore parallel opportunities in other regional blocs like COMESA and SADC due to a realization that the EAC market alone may be too small to sustain economic growth.[43]

Even if South Sudan would gain from intra-EAC trade, non-tariff barriers (NTBs) may limit its realization of these benefits. While low intra-EAC tariffs may promise theoretical trade gains, commentators have noted that actual trade benefits are limited by EAC partner states' continued use of NTBs.[44] NTBs in particular have prevented regional welfare gains, employment creation, and poverty reduction from being fully realized and have negatively impacted the flow of goods and services by increasing the costs of intra-EAC trade.[45]

  • Political and economic tensions within the EAC, reducing benefits from integration

Domestic political interests in EAC partner states may complicate EAC integration efforts. In the words of one commentator, "[t]he EAC still suffers from significant institutional weakness, lack of political will and the absence of a shared common vision for its future integration trajectory."[46]

In fact, EAC partner states' implementation of certain regional integration programs of potential benefit to South Sudan has been delayed because of domestic political resistance. For example, resistance from local political groups has obstructed implementation of the Common Market Protocol and the resulting free movement of skilled and unskilled labor across partner state borders.[47]  Implementation of infrastructure cooperation programs has also been slow because of a lack of technical support.[48]

In addition, regional tensions could also limit the actual benefits of EAC membership. In other words, even if partner states eliminate formal barriers to cross-border trade, the positive effects of such actions may be limited because of disagreements and disputes across borders. Some, for instance, have argued that some South Sudanese harbor a strong distrust of Ugandan traders.[49]  Specifically, commentators note that many South Sudanese feel that they are unable to profit from trading opportunities because the market is dominated by Ugandans.[50]  Thus, even if formal barriers to trade between Uganda and South Sudan were eliminated, such distrust and animosity could constrain the efficient flow of goods between the two countries.

Finally, although unlikely, political differences could eventually lead to the unwinding of regional integration programs, as happened with the first EAC. While integration efforts have been promising, some harmful competition between EAC partner states remains difficult to eliminate.[51] If the diverging interests of EAC partner states become irreconcilable, reversal of certain integration programs may become necessary. As in the first EAC, this could result in significant costs for EAC partner states.

Recommendation: A Multi-Step Strategy for South Sudan

While the total benefits to South Sudan may be greater than the total costs of joining the EAC, it is by no means certain. Thus, South Sudan should undertake a comprehensive economic analysis to investigate the potential advantages and disadvantages of membership, as well as the country's likely role as a member of the EAC. To accurately assess the impact of EAC membership and mitigate any negative effects of such membership, we recommend South Sudan to engage in a four-step process, as outlined below. 

  • Step 1: Determine the costs and benefits of EAC membership

With regard to accession negotiations, South Sudan is potentially at a disadvantage vis-à-vis other EAC partner states. Unlike South Sudan, current partner states have had the chance to incorporate their national interests into common policies, programs, and institutions at earlier stages. With the exception of the Political Federation, negotiations concerning the formation of other institutions (including the Customs Union, Common Market, and Monetary Union) may already be concluded by the time South Sudan joins the EAC. Therefore, accession will likely mean implementation of a variety of agreements that South Sudan was not able to negotiate and that may not be in its best interest. 

As we demonstrate in greater detail in our longer report, Rwanda entered into EAC accession negotiations with a clear understanding of how membership would affect its national priorities, welfare, and capacity. Before agreeing to membership, the country engaged in substantial research to determine the economic and non-economic opportunities and losses that could result from EAC membership. After such studies, Rwanda decided that EAC membership would on net facilitate and promote its national policy objectives and took steps to mitigate the costs of such membership. South Sudan would do well to follow suit.

  • Step 2: Poll local stakeholders

South Sudan should focus on polling and educating its local stakeholders on the effects of EAC membership, since public support is going to be critical.  To ensure that all aspects of EAC integration are considered and addressed, South Sudan should consult a diverse range of stakeholders, including ordinary citizens, bureaucrats, politicians, business community members, and civil and professional organizations.  As we illustrate in our longer report[52] each group of stakeholders may have different expectations and fears regarding EAC integration. 

Rwanda provides a useful model. In 2008, the Rwandan government established the Ministry of East African Community ("MINEAC"). MINEAC conducted consultations with stakeholders across the country and engaged in a two-month long sensitization campaign to educate Rwandans on EAC integration and EAC projects and programs. South Sudan could follow a similar approach.

Consultations with local stakeholders could help South Sudan safeguard stakeholder interests as well as lessen any negative impact of EAC membership.  Rwanda, for example, was able to safeguard its local small businesses through identifying and addressing weaknesses in advance of EAC integration, by means of the government’s consultations with stakeholders (see Box 7.2 in our longer report).  

Through stakeholder consultations, Rwanda learned that its small and medium enterprises ("SMEs") were less competitive than those of its regional neighbors and would likely suffer when Rwanda entered into the EAC common market. Consequently, Rwanda established a detailed national SME development policy that focused on strengthening and developing the domestic SME sector in advance of EAC integration.

  • Step 3: Devise strategies to mitigate the negative effects of EAC membership

After engaging in a comprehensive study and polling stakeholders, South Sudan may find that EAC membership would be beneficial overall, but detrimental to certain national interests. If so, South Sudan should explore strategies to mitigate the negative effects of EAC accession. In this regard, at least three strategies may be relevant.

First, South Sudan should consider the possibility of offsetting increases in the prices of critical consumption goods through subsidies or other public programs (e.g, tax and redistribution policies). However, such measures will not be feasible if the government of South Sudan continues to be in a financial bind due to a self-imposed oil embargo.[53]

Second, South Sudan should develop a priority list of national policies and important non-EAC consumer goods and negotiate temporary reservations or exemptions, as other EAC members have done upon joining the EAC. Rwanda, for example, was able to successfully exempt certain non-EAC tariff rates and investment incentive programs during its EAC accession negotiations. 

In particular, Rwanda negotiated a list of specific industrial raw materials, key agricultural products, and other sensitive products for which different tariff rates other than the CET would apply. The country also successfully negotiated the continuation of certain existing investment incentives and facilities for domestic manufacturers and investors.

However, Rwanda agreed that its reservations and exemptions would expire in two years after its accession to the EAC when it would be required to fully implement its EAC commitments. Similarly, it is unlikely that South Sudan would receive permanent reservations or exemptions from EAC requirements.

As a third option, therefore, South Sudan might consider gradual implementation of its EAC commitments. Following accession to the EAC, for example, both Burundi and Rwanda were given two years to fully implement their commitments.[54] 

However, two caveats should be noted. First, given the economic disparity between South Sudan and EAC partner states and the extensive programs to be implemented upon South Sudan's accession,[55] South Sudan may desire a much longer implementation period than granted to Rwanda and Burundi. But partner states may be reluctant to agree to this. Second, while delayed implementation would allow South Sudan to mitigate the harmful effects of certain EAC commitments, complete elimination of such effects may be impossible. 

Fortunately, it seems that South Sudan will have more time (albeit by default) to develop its domestic industries before acceding to the EAC. As noted above, an EAC technical team has recently advised against South Sudan’s admission, pending its “setting up proper market and governance institutions[.]”[56]

South Sudan would be well advised to use the additional time to pursue the necessary economic and governance reforms, as well as to encourage the development of domestic industry.

  • Step 4: Determine whether EAC cooperation programs will realistically be implemented 

As discussed above, EAC cooperation programs cover a variety of economic and non-economic issues. If properly implemented, such programs could greatly benefit South Sudan. However, as also discussed, domestic political resistance has delayed or frustrated implementation of several EAC initiatives and programs.

Thus, South Sudan should critically assess the probability that important cooperation programs will be implemented as planned. For programs in which timely implementation is uncertain, South Sudan should determine the extent to which EAC partner states would agree to definite, binding commitments and defined implementation schedules in conjunction with accession negotiations. 

Alternatively, if EAC partner states are unlikely to agree to binding commitments, South Sudan could persuade EAC partner states to incorporate important cooperation initiatives into the multi-year EAC Development Strategy. While such commitments would not be binding, they could nonetheless have an influence on future EAC discussions and spending. 

Conclusion

EAC membership is likely to generate both benefits and costs for South Sudan. It is presently unknown whether the benefits will outweigh the costs. South Sudan should thus carefully study costs and benefits in advance in order to position the country to negotiate membership terms that maximize the net benefit to South Sudanese from joining the regional body. 

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South Sudan protests imposition of $22.8 per barrel by the North, Sudan Tribune, July 27, 2011, available at http://allafrica.com/stories/201108020229.html.

Statement by the Right Honorable Prime Minister at Rwanda's Launching of the EAC Customs Union, July 6, 2009

Strike, Meredith, South Sudan: The South's Trading Trajectory, The Independent (Kampala), July 8, 2011, available at http://allafrica.com/stories/201107090052.html.

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Tanzania Refuses to Sign Proposal for EAC Political Federation, East Africa Newspost.com, Nov. 28, 2011, http://www.eastafricanewspost.com/index.php/ east-africa-regional-news/105-tanzania-refuses-to-sign-proposal-for-eac-political-federation.19

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World Bank, Doing Business in Juba (2011).

World Food Program, Ethiopia Cross Border Trade Update, October 2011, available at http://documents.wfp.org/stellent/groups/public/documents/ena/ wfp242631.pdf.

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Yang, Yongzheng & Sanjeev Gupta, Regional Trade Arrangements in Africa: Past Performance and the Way Forward (2005).

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