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Published 3rd February 2012

Vol 53 No 3


Sudan

The South goes for sovereignty

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures
Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

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Juba turns off the oil and turns up the pressure in its fraught negotiations with Khartoum over oil, cash, security and citizenship

Few outside the Juba government had expected it to start shutting down oil production on 22 January. Warnings from the Government of South Sudan had been widely seen as brinkmanship. The National Congress Party (NCP), plus African Union, Chinese and Western mediators, had apparently forgotten the capacity for decisiveness of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), which helped it to win Independence for the South. The talks should resume on 10 February but no one expects speedy agreement. This was clear when the AU representative, South African ex-President Thabo Mbeki, announced on 31 January that they would cover several outstanding issues from the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement since ‘the interim transitional period ends at the end of March’. This broadening of the agenda is a tactical victory for the GOSS, which for the first time has the NCP literally over a barrel.


Who pays the pipeline

Whatever the outcome of the oil talks between the Khartoum and Juba governments, the current crisis has focused thinking on southward leading pipelines. Industry and diplomatic opi...


The Hague changes the game

The ICC is forcing the elite to rethink the old certainties of ethnic politics and redraw the battle lines

By approving the indictment of four very important people, the International Criminal Court has begun to unravel Kenya’s ruling networks of ethnic patronage. This is happening just...



BLUE LINES
THE INSIDE VIEW

The costs and complexities of China’s fast-track engagement with Africa were thrown into stark relief at the African Union summit in Addis Ababa on 23-31 January. It was a moment of triumph for Beijing and the partnership of mutual benefit that it proclaims.That was symbolised by the opening of the shiny new US$200 million AU headquarters, built by the China State Construction Company on the ruins of Ethiopia

The costs and complexities of China’s fast-track engagement with Africa were thrown into stark relief at the African Union summit in Addis Ababa on 23-31 January. It was a moment of triumph for Beijing and the partnership of mutual benefit that it proclaims.That was symbolised by the opening of the shiny new US$200 million AU headquarters, built by the China State Construction Company on the ruins of Ethiopia’s old maximum security prison. China has also promised $90 mn. over five years to maintain the building.

China started negotiations over some of its workers, taken captive in Egypt and Sudan. They plunged into mediation between Sudan and South Sudan over oil and pipelines. Like their European and American counterparts, Beijing’s diplomats were too discreet to show a preference in the election battle for the AU Commission chair between South African Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and the Gabonese incumbent, Jean Ping. It dominated the summit.

Neither candidate won and a fresh election is postponed until the next summit in Malawi in July. The messy finale contrasted with the meeting’s businesslike aspirations: to agree on establishing an African free trade zone by 2017 and break down historic divisions, colonially inspired and otherwise, on the continent. The infighting around the vote sent a powerful message to Beijing and other foreign powers at the summit: the primacy of politics can trump the most compelling economic logic in Africa.

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