Sudan is passing through a critical junction in its history where on July 9, 2011; south Sudan would officially secede from the united Sudan to be declared independent.
To cast light on the future relationship between north Sudan and the newly born South Sudan State together with the challenges facing the new state, Sudanow interviewed Mr. Bol Lul Wang, the Sudanese State Minister for Justice and a leading member of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM).
The interview covered the outstanding issues between the Sudanese peace partners, namely the oil contracts and the country’s disputed oil-rich area of Abyei on Sudan’s north-south border.
Here below, Sudanow publishes the text of the interview:
Question: How do you evaluate the partnership between the Sudanese peace partners, the National Congress Party (NCP) and the SPLM, which will end in few days' time?
Answer: “First of all, let me welcome Sudanow Magazine because the media is currently playing an important role in reflecting the facts about public opinion issues. Yes the partnership between the Sudanese partners will end on July 9, 2011 as stipulated in the Naivasha agreement or the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). The CPA implementation has faced many barriers here and there, the last of which was what has happened in Abyei and South Kordofan. However, I do not want to hold one party or the other responsible of that failure”.
Question: Since you have mentioned Abyei and South Kordofan which have recently witnessed violent military clashes, how and when the link would be broken between the SPLM in the south and the SPLM- north Sudan’s sector?
Answer: “Recently there was a lot of talk about breaking the link between the SPLM, north and south sectors. This was evident after the announcement of the referendum results. However, we, as SPLM, believe that breaking the link in its lateral meaning should not be. The SPLM, north Sudan sector, will be a registered northern Sudanese party with its own role. Separation of south Sudan does not mean cancellation of the SPLM entity in the north. There may be a change in the SPLM work behavior in the north”.
Question: Pardon me Mr. Minister, but what I mean by breaking the link is that the SPLM of southern Sudan sector would not exercise its activities in north Sudan after 9/7?
Answer: Breaking the link at the present time is premature because at this moment of conducting this interview, Sudan is still one state”.
Question: I’m talking about after July 9?
Answer: “After July 9, the talk will have its estimations. It is true that, generally I mean, there will be a break of link between the party’s bodies and its institutions”.
Question: North and South Sudan will be two independent States, but there is an item in the political parties’ law stipulating that the party should be a national party without any associations with another country. How do you view this matter?
Answer: “In principle, this is true, but there is no problem in holding relations between the two parties”.
Question: How do you read the outcome of the meeting between the President of the Republic Omer Al-Bashir and the President of southern Sudan Government Salva Kiir Mayardit in Addis Ababa?
Answer: “In our view, the meeting which was held in Addis Ababa in the past two days, has achieved a success somehow as there was a foreign mediator who managed to narrow the gap in the view points between the two sides and found a way out for the problem represented in the withdrawal of the two sides’ armies from Abyei and entrusting the security tasks at the region for an Ethiopian force. The two sides have also agreed to work together to keep security and sustainable peace and ensure the return of the displaced people to the region besides their agreement over the Abyei administration. I believe these outcomes will likely find a way out for this crisis”.
Question: Some people believe that the CPA has not achieved peace, but led to separation of south Sudan. What do you think are the gains of the agreement for both north and south Sudan?
Answer: “In my opinion, I believe the agreement has achieved great gains that amounted to about %90 of what was planned for. The CPA has sustained the peace and stopped the war between north and south Sudan. Additionally, it has contributed to formation of the Government of National Unity, enabled satisfactory wealth-sharing for both sides and granted the self-determination right for the citizens of the south”.
Question: As a lawman, would you please tell us about the contracts in which south Sudan is a party; for instance the oil contracts, what are their fate after the separation?
Answer: “Regarding the oil file, after July 9 there will be revisions for all the oil production and exploration, matter which necessitates signing of new agreements and protocols, particularly that the only pipeline which carries the oil exports passes through north Sudan to Port-Sudan. Therefore, south Sudan will need sometime before arranging another pipeline to export its oil”.
Question: Why look for an alternative for Port-Sudan to export the oil of the south?
Answer: “This opinion is actually adopted by some influential figures in the movement due to previous stances between the National Congress Party (NCP) and the SPLM. Some of these figures believe that there are difficulties in dealing with the NCP because it violates the agreements and its policies in dealing with the south are not stable. Therefore, they believe that their move to find an alternative for Port-Sudan to export the south’s oil is meant to prevent the two sides from returning to the first quarter of war and so that the north would not utilize our need for its pipeline to impose high taxes on exportation of the south’s oil through its lands”.
Question: Don’t you think that the SPLM concern over non-commitment of the NCP is unjustified, particularly that the latter has fulfilled its commitment to self-determination which led to separation of the south, not to mention its commitment to the implementation of high percentages in the items of the CPA?
Answer: “Yes, Yes, this is a positive thing that we do not deny, particularly the famous speech of the President of the Republic in Juba on January 4, 2011 when he expressed keenness of the NCP on smooth separation of south Sudan, matter which reassured the southern Sudanese citizens and the international parties which guarantee the CPA”.
Question: The SPLM, is it run by its influential figures or through its organizational institutions?
Answer: “Each political party has its first rank members and others in the second rank. In the NCP there are influential members exactly as we have in the SPLM. Therefore, it is not strange to see such trends emerging within the one party”.
Question: To what extent do you think there are infrastructures in the newly born South Sudan State, namely with regard to the rule of law, i.e. police institutions, courts and relevant qualified cadres?
Answer: “I must acknowledge that there are some difficulties facing the new state in terms of judiciary institutions, particularly under the security disorders. This is attributed to the fact that the community in the south is getting out of a phase of war to a phase of peace and for this community to cope up with the civil state needs time. South Sudan has many challenges ahead of it which are normal characteristics of any new state, unlike the case when the south was within the one state of Sudan”.
Question: Pardon me and let me interrupt you here: what are the judiciary institutions that are currently available for South Sudan to build on?
Answer: “There is an executive authority represented in the ministry and a legislative authority represented in south Sudan’s Legislative Council in addition to a Judiciary. We may lack trained cadres, but we have benefited from the capabilities of the northerners and their long-standing experience in the police and the judiciary. I think this would enable us to run the wheel of the public work in the new state. This is an advantage that we acknowledge for the north”.
Question: The Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), in responding to the rebel groups which turned coat against it, is committing atrocities, particularly at the Upper Nile area which has recently witnessed battles that resulted in killing of civilians. Have there been any trials for the SPLA commanders?
Answer: This is right. I agree with you that there was a rebellion at the Great Upper Nile State, namely Jongolei State, led by Gen. George Ator and another rebellion, led by Galwak Gai and finally the rebellion led by Peter Gadet. In my view such incidents have their impact on the security condition of the new state. Therefore, I believe that any rebellion attempt must be firmly responded to because these commanders have rebelled for non-understood reasons and above all else they do not have demands that justify their armed rebellion against the authority there. If they have reservations regarding lack of good governance, then such matters could be discussed through negotiations and not the war. Ator rejected the general amnesty and wanted to achieve his ambitions through the war and the SPLA is now proving superior to him because the SPLA is an organized army. The same thing applies on Peter Gadet and Qalwak Gai.
Question: Let me interrupt you again: But you in the SPLA have previously rebelled against the authority, then why do you reject that for the others?
Answer: “Wait a minute; let me complete my talk on this point. The SPLA has a law in accordance with which it tries any one of its members who turns against it. This is meant to put an end for such behavior so that in the future the door will not be open for any SPLA officer to rebel. There must be a military law as it is the case in north Sudan where the state is based on the army”.
Question: But in the south and the third world countries in General, they resort to liquidating the rebellion instead of bringing the involved persons to trial?
Answer: “These matters are subject to certain circumstances and depend on the legal system and extent of the governments’ commitment to human rights. Any normal citizen or a military man should be presented to a fair trial if he committed a crime, no matter how serious the crime was. There are precedents as you said where there were liquidations. This is a rejected behavior and even the military courts should consider the human rights and avail the person the right to defend himself or name lawyers to represent him. Liquidations are found in the third world countries and Gabrial Tang should be presented to a court and be given the right to defend himself”.
Question: How do you view the status of Telefone Kuku, who is still in detention at a time when there are only few days left ahead of the separation? He is a citizen from North Sudan State. What is his legal status in this respect?
Answer: “As far as I know, Telefone Kuku was a Commander in the SPLA during the united Sudan and it is said that he violated the military regulations and laws and embarked on the political work where he was instigating the sons of the Nuba in the SPLA. This act is a violation of the SPLA laws and he was arrested for this behavior”.
Question: Do you expect his release before July 9 as he is a citizen from another county?
Answer: The solution is possible, but this cannot be but according to the estimations of the SPLA Command. I think he can be released”.
Question: The Ugandan Lord Resistance Army (LRA) is considered one of security threats for the South Sudan State; will they be dealt with militarily or through political negotiations?
Answer: The LRA entered into negotiations with the government in 2007. The negotiations were under the patronage of the Vice-President of southern Sudan Government Riek Machar. The negotiations reached advanced stages and a peace agreement was about to be signed. As we share borders with Uganda, we are the most affected by the activities of the LRA which destabilize the security and stability in the south. However, the LRA backtracked from the negotiations and our only option to deal with it now is the military option. The SPLA is demanded to protect the borders because the LRA is a rebel group against the Ugandan regime of President Yeweri Museveni and at the same time it is launching its activities from our territories. As long as our relations with Uganda are good, we are ready to negotiate with the LRA if they are ready for that and if they are ready to leave our territories as we demanded them to do that and go to Congo or Central Africa. However, the current available option is the confrontation option for Joseph Koni has rejected all the solutions and the LRA is currently disturbing the security at West Equatoria and taking shelter in south Sudan jungles”.
Question: You are still a minister in the united Sudan; how efficient are the laws in protecting the National security, particularly with regard to movements of the diplomats and personnel of the international organizations as it was raised by the former Presidential Adviser for national security Salah Gosh before the National Assembly (parliament)?
Answer: “This is a purely legal matter and it is important to be explained. I was present at that session of the parliament in which Salah Gosh pointed to this matter. Regarding the talk about immunities for the mentioned people, there is a law organizing the movement of those working in the diplomatic field together with the work of the embassies and regional organizations in Sudan. There is an item in the law which stipulates restricting the movement of the diplomat and confining the sovereignty of his state to the embassy of his country with no immunity outside his embassy and that if the diplomat wanted to move outside the capital, he should get permission from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. There are also specific streets for the diplomats to move on with security. As for what Gosh has raised it could be attributed to his long standing experience in the security field where there could be some diplomats who have illegal practices and his message could have meant to control those practices with the law”.
Question: During your work, were there any violations to the law by diplomats?
Answer: I do not remember exactly. However, as a human behavior, some violations could have happened and we, as Sudanese, our traditions and norms are rich of values such as generosity, respect of the guest and tolerance and therefore, there are no escalations for the violations of the diplomats to reach the courts. In such violations, what happens usually is that the diplomat’s country is notified through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with the violation and sometimes the matter could reach to termination of the diplomat’s work in Sudan and expulsion, matter which rarely happens.
Question: Last question: by July 9, will you be happy or sad?
Answer: laughingly “both… I will be happy if south Sudan state is stable and peace is sustainable, matter which will positively reflect on the bigger neighbor- the north. Additionally, if the border issue is resolved, there will be communication between the two sides, a thing which also prompts happiness. However, if things did not go well and the movement between the two sides was restricted with complicated procedures such as entry visas and stuff, then I will be sad. Nevertheless, I’m looking forward to good relations with the north and continued bonds between the citizens”.