[Dehai-WN] Allafrica.com: Interview-South Sudan: New Govt Must Prepare for Scrutiny - U.S. Activist

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From: Berhane Habtemariam (Berhane.Habtemariam@gmx.de)
Date: Tue Aug 23 2011 - 11:57:33 EDT

 <http://allafrica.com/southsudan/> South Sudan: New Govt Must Prepare for
Scrutiny - U.S. Activist

Trevor Ballantyne and Ellie Schneidman

23 August 2011



In the Republic of South Sudan, partition has created both opportunities and
obstacles. Against a backdrop of regional and ethnic tensions, reports of
human rights abuses continue to surface from Darfur and the Nuba Mountains
while escalation of tensions in the Blue Nile and Abyei seems likely. And
the government in Juba is positioning itself in important oil revenue
allocation negotiations that may ultimately dictate the nature of the young
country's development.

John Prendergast is a human rights activist and co-founder of the
<http://www.enoughproject.org/> Enough Project which is dedicated to ending
genocide and crimes against humanity. On July 9, 2011 Prendergast attended
the Republic of South Sudan's independence ceremony in Juba. Weeks later he
spoke at the <http://www.usip.org/> United States Institute of Peace
warning against impending conflict along the country's border with Sudan and
calling for policies aimed at civilian protection. Prendergast recently sat
down with AllAfrica's Trevor Ballantyne and Ellie Schneidman to discuss the
prospects for peace and development in South Sudan.

Q: As the new nation of South Sudan goes down the path of development, how
does the international community balance development and security

The two are equally important and need to go hand in hand. They can't be
played off one against another - both objectives are critically important.
In Washington you have the security folks and the development folks.
Rhetorically they talk a big game about cooperating. However, in South Sudan
it all comes together in such an amazing way, and if we get it right, if
U.S. policy, both political and economic, is crafted in a way that's
maximally supportive of the embryonic Sudanese state we can make a big
difference there. This is one of the opportunities that folks in the whole
foreign policy establishment hope to have: a chance to help stabilize and
enhance the prospects of a successful state building experiment if you will.

Q: How will the Republic of South Sudan proceed to develop?

On one hand, for development in South Sudan the imperatives are profound. As
everyone knows it's one of the poorest countries in the world, it is off the
grid on a lot of basic statistics, the World Bank guesses at a lot of stuff.
Statistics are just beginning to be captured in the remote areas of the
country. To be able to penetrate and make a difference in the lives and
opportunities for South Sudanese across the country is an incredible
challenge. There needs to be a focus on pastoral and agricultural potential
in South Sudan because that's where the majority of the livelihoods are

The other side of the development coin is the rule of law and transparency
[which are] necessary to extract natural resources in a way that isn't
disruptive and exploitative and ultimately conflict producing. Creating the
legal codes and then enforcing them, building communities and livelihoods
around oil extractors is going to be crucial for the bigger tickets:
taxation and revenue generation for the whole country.

Ultimately, South Sudan is going to develop on its own. Resource revenues
will help build safety nets, it will help catalyze opportunities. For the
most part, if it develops the vast natural resources at its disposal its
development is not going to come from foreign aid.

Q: At a conference at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), Assistant
Secretary [of State] for African Affairs Johnnie Carson said, 'With the loss
of oil revenues from the south and a crippling debt burden of some 38
billion dollars the government of Sudan needs debt relief, access to
international financial institutions and a new infusion of FDI [foreign
direct investment].' Is it realistic to see the U.S. investing in the north
as well as the south?

I don't know what [Carson] was talking about. I don't see how U.S.
investment opportunities can be fruitful in a country like Sudan, where they
massacre their own people and we have very well established sanctions,
executive and legislative.

Q: What about investment in agriculture?

My answer to that is helping the agricultural sector in the north is the
last thing I would be looking at. I don't see that as the U.S. role. The
U.S. role in terms of north Sudan needs to be protecting the civilian
population. First of all no one's going to give a dime in development
assistance to north Sudan at this point in time. Anyone can talk about it,
but congress will block it, because the government of Sudan is slaughtering
its own people.

Second, it's now time to re-evaluate what our policy is in Sudan. We tiptoed
around with this regime in Khartoum led by General [Omar al-]Bashir for 22
years, while the international community tried to figure out a way stop the
bleeding in the south. The policy has always been one of constructive
engagement - not terribly dissimilar to what was pursued in South Africa
before the ratcheting up of international pressure. And that policy of
constructive engagement is no longer something the international community
has to worry about because of the southern Sudanese populations' commitment
to the formation of their new state.

Now with South Sudan sovereignty settled, we have a very stark picture in
north Sudan: you have populations in Darfur being bombed, you have people in
the Nuba mountains being starved, you have military units who are moving
into positions against the people of Blue Nile and you have the potential
breakdown of a peace process in eastern Sudan; ethnic cleansing in Abyei;
you have a central government which is deeply unpopular that is generating
enormous conflict displacement and human suffering. You no longer have to
tip toe around the southern question, so my view is that this is the time to
re-evaluate U.S. policy.

The U.S. dumped [Egyptian leader Hosni] Mubarak who was an ally for decades,
and we are openly seeking the toppling of - [Muammar al-]Gaddafi in Libya,
and interestingly we have no opinion on an indicted war criminal in
Khartoum. The winds of change are sweeping, the regime in Khartoum is going
to try to block those winds by using violent tactics. We have to look at the
armed and unarmed opposition in Sudan, and look at ways where we can
fulfill, at the very least, our responsibility to protect civilian

There has to be structural reform at the center [in Sudan]. If it can be a
political process, great, but if it can't be, and the government in Khartoum
continues to fight multi-front wars with all of the non-Arab people and
ethnic groups of Sudan, we have to think about where we want to be aligned
in the long run.

Q: What are the prospects for peace in Sudan's conflict areas?

There already are five separate stove-piped peace processes, all of which
are failing in north Sudan. The problem with the conflict-resolution model
is that we have already played into the hands of Khartoum by having a
separate process for Darfur, which has failed; a separate process for Abyei,
which is seeing Ethiopian peacekeepers come in, and when and under what
terms it will be finished, remains very unclear. With a separate process for
the Nuba Mountains, Bashir himself cancelled that peace deal.

None of these things have worked. Khartoum is playing the international
community like a violin. Its time now to look at one process that deals with
the fundamental problem in Sudan, which is a central government that
controls all the power and wealth; and for the Darfurans ... for the Nuba,
and for the Blue Nile folks to get more autonomy; for the east to get more
autonomy and more representation in the center. You can't have separate
processes. There has to be one process that deals with multiple symptoms of
the same root cause.

Q: How do negotiations over oil revenue allocation affect peace

Oil negotiations are an opportunity for peacemakers on both sides because
they need each other. To exclude Sudan in the export process would mean the
South Sudanese would need to build a massive pipeline to Mombasa or Lamu or
wherever they would export oil out of, once they have the plan bidding done.
Its foolhardy to just sit on the oil, because now there is a state that has
dependency on those revenues for massive patronage, and a civil service
system that has established an army, they can't just cut off production.

Similarly the north can't just say, 'We are going to stop transporting the
oil until we make a deal,' because they need that revenue too. They need to
keep negotiating until they get a deal.

Khartoum of course is playing with fire because if they don't make the deal
then there will be further problems on the border - remember Eritrea and
Ethiopia? They didn't have any clarity on where the border would be. Similar
concern here, they are going to care deeply where they are going to draw
that line, which will have implications for how much money each side is
going to benefit from. If they don't deal with that, it is a ticking time

Q: Does South Sudan benefit from a negative perception of the government in

Since 2005 they probably got more of a free pass because things are so bad
in the north. People took less of a hard line with the southerners with
human rights issues and the transparency issues given the extreme stakes
that are in play with the embryonic state and whether it will survive or

With this government, there is going to be more scrutiny and attention going
forward than it has had in the past. As a sovereign state, South Sudan will
not be solely judged on what's going on in Khartoum. But that is still going
to be factor, because Khartoum is still supporting militias in the south,
but it will not be as decisive a factor as it has been in the last 25 years.

So they have to prepare themselves for a degree of scrutiny on the question
of how they're dealing with oil resources and the human rights front than
they have had in the past. If the international community is going to
provide support they also want to see a transparent, non-corrupt and human
rights respecting government emerge in South Sudan.

Q: What type of development projects would you want to see? Can the
government deliver on some of these expectations?

The first real investment should be in the quality of public administration,
where you would have technical assistance to key administrators so you can
improve service delivery, revenue generation, and all of the kind of things
a state is going to be judged on by its people. If the people feel that
money is coming in and they can see where its going in general terms and
it's going to things that are improving peoples' lives, and this oil money
is not going into peoples' pockets, then this state will succeed, but that
is not where it is right now.

Q: There is going to be a huge push for the whole "anti-corruption" thing,
there is always a serious problem of corruption with this resource curse
that occurs all around the world. So how is this government going to deal
with it, and how are donors going to help them?

I would also like to see a real emphasis placed on the productive capacities
of the south. The [Barack] Obama administration has the "Feed the Future"
initiative on agriculture development so it would be nice to see a real
investment there on the kind of crops that are drought resistant - next
generation seeds that can have the highest productivity for this climate and
topography. That would be a fantastic use of the Obama administration

Attention needs to be directed to how you can develop mining and investment
codes in South Sudan, so there are very clear rules of the road in those
sectors, so that companies from the outside and their partner Sudanese will
have to follow those rules and be transparent in order to know where the
money is coming from and where it is going.

Vultures are stealing land, ministers are making side deals - there are all
kinds of weird deals being cut. But then there are others that are really
good; that internationally follow the rules. Those people are going to be at
a disadvantage unless there is a system that allows for transparency and
that is where the money is going to come from for the South's development.

There will be money for conflict prevention and for building a civil service
that can address the problems in the periphery that could lead to conflict -
that is a fundamental element of state building. To get to where Sudan wants
to be, which is a peaceful state, you are going to have to get early
development initiatives right, and the United States could play a very
crucial role in that if we invest in the right way. Right now we are working
too quietly, we need to shout when we see deals going on where people are
making millions of dollars on the side. Whoever makes those types of deals
needs to be prosecuted. That is going to be a crucial part of the equation
in building the state properly.

Development and peacemaking are just inextricably intertwined. You just
can't have a state that manages conflict and resolves conflict if the state
is simply a means for the influential people to gain. If the state's leaders
don't want to share power, the first thing that is going to happen is the
areas that aren't getting anything are going to erupt in rebellion. Unless
you have integrated conflict prevention structures and proper state
development formation, the state will fail.

Q: Transparency is obviously an important aspect of investment in state
development, but are leaders and policymakers in South Sudan invested in

There are a large of number of Sudanese in the bureaucracy civil societies
that want that. It's always this way in every country including the United
States. When you go out and battle corruption, there are elements of civil
society that whistle blow and then there are the cheats and thieves that go
into government or business to make money not in the old fashioned way but
to steal it.

It's not that different really here. The U.S. is just in a more advanced
technological and financial state than South Sudan, but the same human
impulses exist. There is a disproportionate interest from Congress in South
Sudan, which is good, so there will be more scrutiny and there will be more
interest in what happens to the country.

And at the end of the day it is a South Sudanese issue and it's the media
watchdogs and the civil society organizations in South Sudan that are going
to blow whistles and point fingers because they are going to know better
than anyone who is cheating the system. If you're empowering those people,
that is a great investment, for America, for state building - to empower and
give people the resources to be able to do the job themselves.


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