The negotiations between Khartoum and Juba have ended before they evn had a chance to began over problems left unresolved since the South’s independence last July.
The efforts of the African Union mediators, led by former South African President Thabo Mbeki, to prompt the talks – expected yesterday in Addis Ababa – have not worked. The representatives of both parties have remained perched on distant positions with respect to the payment of transit fees on oil.
While, in order to transport its oil through its pipelines and infrastructure, the Sudanese government is seeking payment of $36 per barrel, South Sudan – which thanks to secession took away with it about 70% of the all of Sudan’s oil fields – speaks of “armed robbery” and argues that market prices are bout 74 cents a barrel.
In addition, the government in Juba accuses Khartoum of having “stolen” more than 650,000 barrels of oil, confiscated “in compensation” – according to the Sudanese Foreign Minister Ali Kart – for outstanding transit taxes by the government since independence in South today.
The resumption of the talks – the newspaper Sudan Tribune – has temporarily been stranded in Khartoum on the request to pay the equivalent of 1.4 million barrels of crude oil before the meeting.
The situation between the Sudans has also worsened becasue of the growing tension along the border and the conflicts in the regions of Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile from which – said Minister Karti – “cannot be ignored in order to reach any agreement, including one for economic issues.”
Having to confront an armed rebellion in the two southern provinces, the Khartoum government, meanwhile, accuses Juba of supporting, militarily and financially, the insurgents who, at the time of the civil war, fought alongside the former Southern secessionists who are now independent.
For access to civilians trapped in areas where the conflict has dragged on for months, the UN is in talks with the government of Omar Hassan al-Bashir.
In this context, the pressure of the United States Ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, for immediate access of humanitarian workers in the territories in question have caused the resentful reaction of her Sudanese counterpart, Daffa Alla Elhag Ali Osman, who spoke of “crocodile tears” from those who “has a vested interest in the refilling the pockets of rebellion in the two regions.”