The road to separation between Sudan and South Sudan has not been smooth. The complications that have accompanied the break-up have created mounting obstacles and grave problems, especially for the people. The tensions cannot continue endlessly as the price would prove to be costly to both sides.
A recent development in relations between Sudan and South Sudan is a promising start. Both countries have agreed to sign a deal that defines how the oil wealth will be shared. “The parties have agreed on all of the financial arrangements regarding oil, so that’s done”, African Union (AU) mediator Thabo Mbeki said on Saturday. The AU has long been involved in mediating between the two countries and has tried to propose solutions since tensions flared in July 2011.
The disagreement over oil proceeds is just one of the many issues that are yet to be addressed and resolved. It is also one of the good examples which demonstrate how intricate the issues between Sudan and South Sudan are — something that will need both sides’ cooperation if any solution is to materialise. Three-quarters of the oil is located in the territory coming under South Sudan. Yet the pipelines and processing facilities are with Sudan. Hence, each side cannot but deal with the other directly if any oil is to be produced.
Now, that a major problem has been addressed, other pending issues will also require attention and a solution. The pending problems are also important as they are the main areas that will need a strong political will to resolve. These areas include oil revenue sharing, security, citizenship and border demarcation. These are areas where there are major disagreements between the two sides and like the issue of oil production and processing, it will take time to resolve.
Perhaps the most crucial matter of all is for both Sudan and South Sudan to focus on the long-term progress plans. And these cannot be achieved as long as problems continue to exist.