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The difficult birth of a nation

· South Sudan proclaims independence ·

If the birth of a nation were compared to the birth of a baby, the case of South Sudan could be considered a delivery with complications, even though newborn’s chances for survival remain high. The local population awaits the official day of the proclamation of independence – July 9th – with high hopes and genuine enthusiasm.

Nontheless, the complications of secession remain, as evidenced by the likely extension of the mission of UN peacekeepers on the tormented border between Sudan and South Sudan, where there have been recent conflicts in southern Kordofan. The possibility of the extension was raised by UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon who stopped in Khartoum before continuing on to the South Sudan capital of Juba to preside at the ceremony for the proclamation of independence.

The scheduled participation at the ceremony of the Sudanese President, Omar Hassam el Bashir has not dispelled doubts. Several issues remain unresolved: from the attribution of the oil region of Abyei, still contested between the two States, to the delineation of borders, to the subdivision of public debt and especially the division of profits from oil resources. Oil is mainly concentrated in the southern regions – other than in Abyei – and the government of Khartoum does not intend to renounce its quota of ownership, maintaining that it is already provided for in the peace agreement of January 9, 2005, which ended the more than 20-year civil conflict. The authorities in Juba, however, intend to manage the drilling themselves, paying Khartoum for the use of the piplelines and refineries. Multinational oil companies, who have always been interested in Sudanese oil, are in a similar position. Recently, el Bashir and the President of South Sudan, Salva Kiir Mayardit participated in a meeting in Addis Abeba promoted by IGAD (Intergovernmental authority for development) – which had negotiated the 2005 aggreement – without however resolving the still-open questions. IGAD has said that it is satified by the promise to continue negotiations after July 9, but many observers don’t hide their disappointment and worry at having achieved separation without first resolving all of the issues, as both sides had initially said they would do.

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