WEDNESDAY April 18, 2012, Nairobi, Kenya/…The International Center for Policy and Conflict (ICPC) is deeply concerned by the tension building up between the Republic of Sudan and the Republic of Southern Sudan. We note that like previous conflicts in the region, the tension is due to territorial disputes over oil-rich fields in the Heglig area, which the SPLA has forcefully occupied. The Sudanese Army regrettably resorted to indiscriminate aerial bombardments which threatens civilian lives whilst inhibiting humanitarian access.
It is now apparent that unless the international community intervenes, then the two neighbours may potentially go full blown war. This is not good for the regions and will roll back to gains made under the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). The two countries can also ill afford the detrimental effects of another war at a time that the wounds of previous war are yet to heal.
ICPC alarmed that despite existence of all elements of a possible war, the African Union and other regional bodies like Inter-Governmental Authority for Development (iGAD) are yet to take comprehensive steps to intervene and bring the parties back to the negotiating table. The UN Security Council has also unfortunately remained passive over this matter. We urge the AU, UN and IGAD to urgently deploy all possible political measures to bring the two independent countries to their sense.
ICPC takes this earliest opportunity to urge the AU and all concerned regional and international bodies to take a more robust action in restoring peace in the region by sending a properly mandated Force under Chapter VII of the Charter of the UN. A mere peace-keeping mission is inappropriate in the circumstances. There is need for a Force with enforcement mandate to establish a buffer zone Heglig and all disputed areas to protect civilians and all humanitarian operations until a political settlement is reached.
ICPC is of the view that we can hardly afford a withdrawn approach anymore, which insists on political settlement as lives are under threat. The sovereignty of the Sudan and South Sudan comes with concurrent responsibilities to protect lives and guarantee security. It’s clear that, in the circumstances, they have failed in these respects and therefore a neutral intervening Force is inevitable. Lest we forget, such withdrawn and reluctant approach has previously led to escalation of conflicts as was the case in Rwanda, Uganda, Congo, and to some extent, Somalia.
We accordingly demand that the AU convenes its Peace and Security Council to immediately attend to the Sudan conflict before escalate to full blown war. Meanwhile, we also call upon the region’s leaders to be more proactive and robustly engage the Presidents Kiir and Al-Bashir to find lasting political settlement. As these efforts unfold, restraint by both sides is encouraged.