Southern Kordofan: Crossroads or Blind Alley?
Four dynamic factors act, instrumentally, on the fractured landscape of Southern Kordofan State (SKS) to generate serious challenges to human security, socioeconomic, administrative and political reintegration opportunities in the post-conflict phase. The expected result is that such factors work, as well, to pose immediate threats and high risk for smooth implementation of the CPA protocols for SKS and Abyei Area. They could generate a serious crisis.
Simply put, the challenge for a “˜better future for Southern Kordofan State’ is that the central question should be addressed: Can the people of Southern Kordofan chart their destiny, during 2009-2011, to make human development the nexus for socioeconomic, legal, political and administrative reforms for reintegration within the time limit of the CPA? As things stand now, unfortunately, the answer is in the negative; because SKS came out “˜empty-handed’ and without financial resources stipulated in the CPA. It is the task of this contribution to mark the main factors causing the complex situation of today. My attempt is to make the “˜present’ carry the “˜future’ on its shoulders. I believe that what needs to be done, at the outset, is change is the mindset of social and political leaders, because political will and policy changes will then follow. Adequate resources for priority human development agenda will then be mobilized.
The fractured landscape is a direct manifestation of the decades-old perception of Government of Sudan (GOS) controlled areas as opposed the SPLM/SPLA controlled areas. This perception corresponds to four hill-ranges (Kauda, Miri, Julud and Koalib) and plateaux spanned by SPLM/SPLA during the time of active hostilities, as opposed to the intervening plains and fertile valleys controlled by the GOS and allied militias. The fact that SPLA has recently demobilized outside these parameters, set forth an immediate challenge for the Government of National Unity as to whether it is capable of substituting for SPLM/SPLA that had been prevailing in the area for three decades.
These four factors alluded-to earlier operate as follows:
1. The backlog of two decades of conflict-and-war that continues to adversely act on the minds of men and women in SKS, thus, perpetuating discriminatory ethnic faultlines and hampering peaceful co-existence and social reintegration in the post-conflict phase.
2. Oil wealth, mainly, in southwestern Kordofan enclaves where the Misiriya-Humr clans and the nine Ngok-Dinka chieftainships have been at loggerheads for more than three decades. They could not enjoy such wealth, envisioned as the peace dividend, since the signing of the CPA in 2005. Oil revenues are appropriated by the central government. Shares of locally produced oil could not be realized to date (2% separately) by neither the Misiriya nor the Ngok-Dinka. International companies exploring for oil wealth are protected by the central government and by the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) in situations where the Misiriya or Ngok-Dinka raise claims against such oil companies. The SKS Government is not mandated to intervene in favour of local claims. It does not show interest to do so, either. Oil companies do not maintain offices in Kadugli, the state capital, Abyei Area or, that matter in Damazeen in Blue Nile Sate (BNS), that could represent oil companies in the case of disputes involving the rights of indigenous peoples in respect of enjoying natural endowments of their natural home area.
3. Therefore contentions have become more pronounced during the past two years, generated mainly by the Misiriya, based on claims for compensation for “˜tribal’ land taken by oil companies and used for oil exploration activities. The sight of Misiriya folks barricading the gravel roads constructed by oil companies, with huge logs of wood and tree-trunks, has become quite common. Such road-blocking, in certain cases in May 2008, prevented not only company vehicles from passing but also vehicles carrying UNMIS officials who were on official visits to the area as well as army units from SAF. These are sufficient signals for the NCP, SPLM as well as other stakeholders, including UNMIS, UN Agencies, INGOs and government officials that more serious incidents could take place unless such claims by local people are justly and expeditiously addressed, with ample wisdom.
4. The fourth factor is the proliferation of small arms and ammunitions in the hands of civilians, of all categories and ethnic groups, not only in SKS and Abyei Area, but also in BNS. The threat to social peace and harmony is, abundantly, apparent. It is pertinent, therefore, for this synoptic summary to appeal to all stakeholders in SKS to immediately work together to suspend all transfers of arms and related logistical and security supplies to SKS that are likely to be used by the Other Armed Groups (OAGs) for human rights violations.
In order to achieve the grand objective, set out in the opening statements, elite social and political leadership must seek for all the people of Southern Kordofan, as part of Northern Sudan envisioned in the CPA, to fight poverty, to equitably enjoy access to education and health, to be sufficiently capacitated and enabled to utilize their full human potential, through well-developed basic capabilities, and in order to fully enjoy equal access to employment opportunities. This path cherishes human competition, not state welfare. It is a vision of broadened access to opportunities, not access to charity. It is a vision of the enrichment of human lives, not just the enrichment of national income or wealth. The investment required is fairly modest, in order to move over the next four years toward a society where there is substantial improvement in basic education, primary health care for all, safe drinking water for all, and adequate nutrition for all malnourished children, and where the worst human deprivations curbing the peoples’ potential have been finally overcome.