After more than a year, South Sudan crude oil is flowing again through Sudan. The revenues will revamp the fledgling economies in both countries – at least that is the hope.
Land-locked South Sudan, which has oil but lacks its own pipeline to a seaport, took the decision to shut down oil production in January 2012 due to an oil transit fee dispute with Sudan. South Sudan said that Sudan was diverting her oil consignment to her refineries.
Sudan had admitted the charges, saying it was paying itself in kind for unpaid transit fee. But with the signing of the implementation matrix in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, in March, oil production resumed.
For South Sudan, that had been depending 98 percent on oil proceeds to meet her budgetary obligations before the shutdown of oil production in January, there are as yet unanswered questions. When is the first crude reaching the international market? When will the oil proceeds be in the government coffers? How much trust have both sides developed to avoid last minute inconveniences?
Radio Miraya’s Sebit William hosted the Petroleum and Mining Minister, Stephen Dhieu Dau, on the Breakfast Show to answer some of these questions.
Here is the interview: Inside the oil drama
(9th May, 2013) - In South Sudan, public universities are not fully operational. The students of Rumbek University, for instance, have been calling on government to open the university.
Other institutions, like the Dr. John Garang Memorial University of Science and Technology, have had no new admissions for more than three years.
There are administrative issues, including lack of a stable calendar, delay in salary payments, unequipped laboratories, among other challenges.
And private universities have been shut down on the grounds that they were not offering credible programs. The documents they award would simply not be recognized by the Ministry of Higher Education.
There have also been complaints of lack of fairness in sponsorship abroad.
What is the future of higher education in South Sudan?
Radio Miraya hosted the Higher Education Minister, Dr Peter Adwok Nyaba, on Inside South Sudan with Joseph Shadar, to shed light on various higher education issues.
The below is the interview: The fate of higher education
(24th April 2013) - A rebellion continues to erode peace in Jonglei State. The austerity measures, adopted after the oil shut down in January, have halted basic service delivery.
Abyei status, border demarcation and oil, among others have been a sticking point of dispute with Sudan.
Two other neighbors are politically instable. The rule of law isn’t fully on course, and unemployment is biting. What is the way for South Sudan?
President Salva Kiir outlined his course of action in an address at the opening of the Parliament on Tuesday. Radio Miraya captured excerpts of his statement (sub-headings inserted editorially).
(30th April, 2013) - Will rebels finally lay down their guns? Or will they fight on?
Answers are being sought to these questions since President Salva Kiir renewed amnesty to six forces fighting against the government of South Sudan last Thursday.
The leaders of the forces include Gordon Kong, David Yau Yau, Oyuok Ogot, Bapiny Monytuil Wicjang, Johnson Uliny and Munto Abdalla Munto.
Radio Miraya spoke to the army spokesman, Col Philip Aguer Panyang, on how the militias received the amnesty.
Col Philip Aguer: We visited Mayom County with a delegation headed by the Unity State deputy governor. We had a meeting with former South Sudan Liberation army (SSLA) fighters who just came from Khartoum and crossed the border to South Sudan. This is a significant development and the amnesty that was issued by the President of South Sudan and Commander-in-Chief of the army, is a consistent policy of the government to leave the doors open for reconciliation, because peace is the most precious thing in regards to the development of human beings. These brothers that [have just] arrived are an indication that South Sudanese are capable of reconciling, forgiving themselves and coming together as brothers.
Radio Miraya: How many so far have handed over themselves to the SPLA (South Sudan army), and from which rebel groups?
(15th April 2013) - Sudanese President Omar al Bashir made a historic visit to South Sudan on Friday, the first time since the secession of South Sudan in July 2011.
Al-Bashir last visited Juba in January 2011, just after the referendum that led to the splitting of the country.
Within two years of the split, the relations between the two countries became tense.
The Khartoum and Juba governments needed to define borders and resolve the status of the disputed Abyei region.
They also had to resolve security, citizenship and agree on how much South Sudan should pay to export its oil at Port Sudan, among other issues.
In April last year, clashes along the undefined borders nearly resulted in a full scale war but, after that, relations improved.
On Friday, Bashir came to Juba with a high level delegation to discuss how the two countries could create lasting peace and cooperation.
Radio Miraya hosted South Sudan’s Information and Broadcasting Minister Dr. Barnaba Marial Benjamin, to shed light on what the visit achieved.
“The President and the Republic of South Sudan expected president Bashir out of diplomatic courtesy to make a return visit – I mean a sort of – to South Sudan,” Dr. Marial said.
“When the two presidents met here in Juba … President Omar al Bashir, concluding answering of questions, indicated that he had personally invited President Salva Kiir Mayardit to visit Khartoum at any time of his choosing,” the minister said.
Marial said that “President Salva Kiir has accepted the invitation” and “the agenda is to continue the dialogue on the implementation for cooperation agreements.”
“They were committed in principle to see that all the nine agreements in the cooperation agreement will be implemented in letter and spirit. And the difficulties - as you know they agreed on certain things here but there are certain things which were grey areas they didn’t agree – but they said no, these could be resolved as dialogue continues,” he said.
On Abyei, the meeting of the two leaders made some progress, Marial said.
“They even agreed that the Abyei administration must be done immediately. They also agreed that the citizens of Abyei should now be allowed to go back and settle in their homes. And that the share of Abyei people in Abyei oil should be given to them so that they can begin to develop the area. And on a light note, they even agreed that the share of South Sudan, our 42 percent of the oil from Abyei, should be given to South Sudan,” he said.
But Bashir and Kiir could not agree on the formation of the Abyei Area Council. They did not agree on the Abyei Referendum Commission because they needed to first agree who is eligible to vote.
The meeting has succeeded in establishing confidence between people of the two countries, Dr. Marial said.
“It has sent a signal that we can begin to normalize our relations, and to normalize our relations our presidents should begin to talk to each other and even smile and drink tea together and have dinner together!” he said.
“They agreed that the borders should open immediately. The fact that he came with a high level delegation… that was an indication that Khartoum now is convinced beyond doubt that look, let’s do business. Let’s cooperate. But it is hooked on the principle of implementation of the cooperation agreement,” he added.