“… one should be quite cautious, to what level you can become optimistic given the history that consistently shows that this is a government you cannot trust… one would really need to see what’s going to happen … first whether Bashir will be visiting South Sudan or not, that will show a clear intention.”
– Luka Biong Deng, former minister of South Sudan government
It is almost two years since South Sudan split from Sudan to become the world’s newest country.
Sudan’s president Omar al-Bashir has announced an amnesty for all political prisoners held in Sudan and has released a number of them accused of links with southern rebels.
It is building on process made in March, when the two countries agreed to end hostilites, and resume the cross-border flow of oil.
And as sign of mellowing relations, al-Bashir is said to be making arrangements for his first visit to South Sudan.
Sudan was the largest country in Africa until 2011. And it relied primarily on agriculture, until 1999, when it started exporting oil.
In 2005, Sudan’s government signed a peace deal with southern rebels, ending a 23-year civil war.
By 2008, despite civil war and famines in the Darfur region, it was a relatively rich country.
“It’s a very delicate relationship … we are only just out of the divorce courts, we are two countries who are really very suspicious of each other, and it’s taking quite a bit of diplomatic maneuvering, to get them to the position where they are even prepared to talk…”
– David Anderson, a professor of African Politics at Oxford University
Then the separation came in 2011, when the South voted overhelmingly to separate from Sudan, halting the oil production. It was clear that both nations needed each other – 75 percent of the oil is in the South and all the refineries are in the North.
The next year, 2012, brought fighting over the contested border region, and the sharing of oil revenues. The South said the North’s actions amount to a declaration of war. In September that year the respective presidents shook hands, and reached an agreement on trade, oil and security after days of talks in Ethiopia.
And in the past few weeks, they have gone further, agreeing to resume pumping oil, and to withdraw troops from their border area.
So how are Sudan and South Sudan surviving after the split? And can their past differences ever be fully resolved?
To discuss this, Inside Story, with presenter David Foster, is joined by guests: Isam Abu Hasabu, a member of the National Consensus Forces, a coalition of Sudanese oppostion parties; Luka Biong Deng, former South Sudanese minister for presidential affairs; and David Anderson, professor of African Politics at the University of Oxford.
“As far as I know, Sudan hasn’t been successful in attracting any International Community Support because of the long list of negative positions the government of Sudan has put itself in.
“I think this regime has very much been following a policy of day-to-day routine. Whether it is mining for gold or oil, we have always known that … its economy is based on agriculture, and animal resources. So unless we do something serious about this, no other alternative in economics can substitute these basic sources of economy in Sudan.”
-Isam Abu Hasabu , member of the National Consensus Forces