From: Biniam Tekle (email@example.com)
Date: Thu Apr 28 2011 - 07:51:46 EDT
U.S. Role In Setting Up South Sudan
April 27, 2011
On July 9th, South Sudan will become the world's newest independent nation.
Questions remain about the partition process, and fighting has already
broken out over a disputed border region. U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan
Princeton Lyman explains the U.S role in setting up the new country.
NEAL CONAN, host:
On July 9th, Southern Sudan becomes the world's newest nation: South Sudan.
A referendum to secede from the northern half of the country was approved by
an overwhelming majority three months ago. But many issues remain, including
a new constitution, allocation of oil reserves with the north and a
territorial dispute that has escalated into a flashpoint.
Former Ambassador Princeton Lyman was recently appointed special envoy to
Sudan and assigned by President Obama to help facilitate conversation
between the two sides. If you have questions about Sudan, Southern Sudan,
Darfur or the separation process, we're taking them by email today. The
address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ambassador Lyman joins us here in Studio 3A. Nice to have you on TALK OF THE
Mr. PRINCETON LYMAN (U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan): Thank you, Neal.
Mr. LYMAN: Good to be here.
CONAN: I have to ask, what is the role of the U.S. envoy in the creation of
a new country?
Mr. LYMAN: Well, the role is to facilitate the negotiations between the
north and the south as well as to help establish a presence in South Sudan
of a future embassy, an aid program and deal with the many issues that South
Sudan will have in becoming a new country. And negotiations are complicated
and sometimes very difficult, and we try to get involved as well as we can
to help the parties through them.
CONAN: It's important to remember the United States was one of the principal
brokers of the agreement that ended the long and bloody civil war between
the north and the south and provided for a referendum on secession to be
held this year.
Mr. LYMAN: That's true. The agreement was in 2005, called a comprehensive
peace agreement, and laid out the plans for a referendum and a number of
other steps that had to be taken over the next six years. And as you pointed
out, January 9th, the south voted to separate from the north.
CONAN: And no doubt about the numbers.
Mr. LYMAN: No doubt about the numbers, and the process was peaceful and
credible and immediately recognized by the government of Sudan as well as
the rest of the international community.
CONAN: Yet, there have been incidents since then.
Mr. LYMAN: There have been several incidents, and they're very worrisome.
There are a number of militias operating in the south, which are causing
havoc, civilian casualties, clashes with the Southern People's Liberation
Army. There are charges back and forth between the two, north and south,
over who's supporting those militia, and so that's complicating the
The north in turn had accused the south of helping rebels in Darfur, and
we've taken the position with both of them that that kind of tit-for-tat
support of rebels in each other's territory is a very dangerous road to go
CONAN: In the meantime, both countries, or one proto-country and Sudan, the
existing country, have sent forces into a disputed area.
Mr. LYMAN: They have both sent forces into one of the most difficult
disputed areas, and that's Abyei. This is an area that was also to have a
referendum, but there was no agreement on who could vote, and the two
parties are still arguing over the future of Abyei.
The south believes that the people, the Ngok Dinka who live there, have a
right to self-determination and to come into the south. The north feels that
the nomadic groups who also have regular used that area, the Messiria,
should either vote in that referendum or have the right to keep Abyei in the
north where they will have permanent rights to the land. And that dispute is
one of the most explosive between the two.
CONAN: And the presence of military forces in that region threatens, well,
obviously, an explosion.
Mr. LYMAN: It does, and they're both in violation of an agreement not to
have such forces there, and even though there is a recent agreement to have
those forces withdraw in place of joint police units, that agreement has not
CONAN: In the meantime, there is so much going on in what will be South
Sudan in - for example, I think they're trying to write a constitution.
Mr. LYMAN: They are, indeed. They're writing what they call an interim
constitution that would effect July 9thm and would - according to the
proposals, the government lasts for four years, in which the current
president of the south, President Salva Kiir, would become president. And
they would use that period not only to govern the country, but to develop a
final constitution. And there's some controversy about the draft of this
interim constitution that's just been released.
CONAN: The controversies include?
Mr. LYMAN: Partly because of the opposition parties feel they were not part
of the process, partly because they think the transition period of four
years is too long and that there should be a government of national unity
during that period, not simply a continuation of the present regime.
CONAN: In the meantime, there are so many other institutions that have to be
established: a legal system, you have to design a flag and currency and
passports, a million things.
Mr. LYMAN: A million things. And there is not a deep level of cadre in the
south to handle all these things. They have to set up - as you say, they
have to set up a central bank if they're going to have their own currency.
They have to set up ministries at the state level, as well as the national
level, to deliver services, create courts with the appropriate personnel,
passports, as you say, establish treaty relationships as a new country with
all the other countries with whom they're dealing - a tremendous amount of
work. And they are working very hard at it, but it is quite challenging.
CONAN: In the meantime, they have a host of challenges that are built into
the structure of the way this country will be designed. It is a landlocked
country, and its only port for exports will be in its neighbor, new neighbor
and the former northern - former - well, as some in the south saw it,
occupier, North Sudan.
Mr. LYMAN: Well, this is the interesting and challenging thing, but also an
area for productive relations. These two countries are still going to be in
inextricably linked. For the south, which has most of the oil, the north
contains all the pipelines, infrastructure for exporting it. Many people
live right on the border and go back and forth, either as nomads or as
business people, et cetera. So the two countries' economies are going to be
And even though they had have this very, very painful past, they have to
work together for the benefit of each of them.
CONAN: And there's an email question on that point from Herschel in
Birmingham: Where are the Sudanese oilfields, in the south or the north? You
say mostly in the south.
Mr. LYMAN: Mostly in the south. Some in the north, but about 75 percent of
the oil's in the south.
CONAN: And are there contracts? There were contracts with Chinese developers
to buy most of that.
Mr. LYMAN: You know, this is one of the most complicated areas for them to
negotiate. There are contracts with private companies, the Chinese, the
Indians, the Malaysians. There are two state-owned corporations that also
operate part of the infrastructure. And then you have two governments that
will be involved. And sorting all that out is proving to be extraordinarily
In this case, the Norwegian government has been providing a lot of expertise
to both parties on how to manage this negotiation.
CONAN: The Norwegian government, of course, has tremendous expertise with
oil from the north field, the North Sea developments, but, of course, little
with these kinds of political disputes. I expect they're going to get a lot
more very quickly.
Another email question, this from Jordan in Cambridge, Massachusetts: Other
than the referendum vote, it seems there's been a lack of coverage of events
occurring in the Darfur, giving the impression that the atrocities we've
heard so much about in the past are not as serious as they once were. What's
the current situation in Darfur?
Mr. LYMAN: The situation in Darfur is not as dire as it was in 2003 and '04,
when the world was rightly deeply, deeply affected by what was going on
there. But fighting still goes on in parts of Darfur. There are still some
two million people displaced from their homes. There are still hundreds of
thousands of refugees across the border in Chad. So this is a situation that
has not been resolved after eight years. And it's one of the highest
priorities for me and for the U.S. government in the coming months, to see
how we can bring peace to this area.
It's more complicated in that we don't have a framework like we have for the
north-south negotiations, a comprehensive peace agreement. So we're dealing
with a lot of different rebel organizations, a lot of different
international actors. And we don't have the framework that we need, in my
view, to move this process forward.
CONAN: Some have criticized the United States and others for focusing on the
north-south dispute and putting less emphasis on Darfur, saying essentially
-and this is the criticism - that the importance of the north-south treaty
and that process was put over the situation in Darfur, that to focus on
Darfur would have threatened the resolution in the south.
Mr. LYMAN: I know that feeling is out there. I was part of the north-south
negotiations before I took this present job. But my predecessor, General
Gration, was spending a great deal of time on Darfur.
But he was right to put a great deal of emphasis on assuring that that
referendum in January in the south went forward, and went forward
peacefully, because a return to war between north and south would have been
a calamity, and it would not have contributed at all to peace in Darfur. So
while we were working on the peace processes in Darfur, I think the
tremendous international effort to assure that the CPA would go forward
peacefully was a right emphasis.
CONAN: CPA, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.
Mr. LYMAN: I'm sorry, yeah. The Comprehensive Peace Agreement.
CONAN: Part of the deal, it seemed, was if Sudan agreed to accept the
results of the referendum peacefully, whatever they were, that the United
States would take Sudan off the terrorism list.
Mr. LYMAN: Well, what the president said and has started is that he would
begin the process of examining the removal. That process requires two
things: It requires that they meet the terms under the law for getting off
the list of state sponsors of terrorism. So they have to go through a very
careful review of that. And second, that they complete the negotiations on
the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.
So my guess is that the president will be ready to make that decision
sometime around July, and then it goes to the Congress for comment for 45
days. But even after that's done and if it's successful and they come off
the list - which I think would be extraordinarily important - most of our
economic sanctions in our legislation are linked to Darfur.
CONAN: We're talking with Ambassador Princeton Lyman, the special envoy to
Sudan. You're listening to TALK OF THE NATION, from NPR News.
And what's the difference between an ambassador and an envoy?
(Soundbite of laughter)
Mr. LYMAN: Well, an ambassador is a personal title. Usually, you're an
ambassador to somewhere. But if you've been in the service and been an
ambassador, you get to keep the title. But an envoy is job, and it's an
assignment. And as an envoy, you're charged with, in this case, working to
bring peace to Sudan.
CONAN: One of your previous jobs, though, was ambassador to South Africa
during the transition to apartheid. And I wonder if you see any similarities
Mr. LYMAN: There are some. And that was an extraordinary time and an
extraordinary time to be there. There are some lessons to be learned on
negotiation, on how you overcome problems that seem intractable. But I think
one of the differences is that in South Africa, both Nelson Mandela and
President de Klerk were determined to do the negotiations themselves with
help from outside, but not direct participation.
In Sudan, because of the long civil war and some of the other kind of
problems, the international community - particularly through the Africa
Union, but in other ways - is more directly involved in the process in
bringing the parties together and helping to negotiate or implement
agreements like the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.
CONAN: One of the principal players in this process, John Garang - who once
ran the SPLA, the Sudan People's Liberation Army - shortly after the
completion of the agreement, died in a plane crash. I wonder, would things,
do you think, be easier today if John Garang had lived?
Mr. LYMAN: I think they'd be different in this way: John Garang had a vision
of transforming all of Sudan, and was not focused so much on separation, as
transforming all of Sudan into a more pluralistic and democratic country.
With his death, the progress under the Comprehensive Peace Agreement evolved
much more toward independence of the South. And so I think that changed the
atmosphere and the direction that the process took after his death.
CONAN: There's another leader, and that's, of course, the president of
Sudan, who's under indictment for war crimes. How does that factor into
Mr. LYMAN: Well, President Bashir was indicted by the International Criminal
Court for war crimes in Darfur. We do not have any direct contact or
relationship with the president because of the indictment. We work with a
lot of other senior officials, and there are others in the international
community who do have direct contact with him. But that's a factor in the
process, and it does complicate, somewhat, the negotiating process.
CONAN: There is also, some fear, a precedent that may be established here.
We saw Eritrea break away from Ethiopia some years ago, now, South Sudan
breaking away from Sudan. There are all kinds of border disputes and
boundaries in Africa that, well, the people say if you're going to start
rectifying these, it's never going to stop.
Mr. LYMAN: African nations have generally been very wary of this kind of
split, ever since the end of colonialism, when they accepted the colonial
boundaries, simply because they felt to try and alter them would lead to
instability and warfare. So when Eritrea split from Ethiopia, that was quite
a challenge for what is now the African Union.
And the African Union was, to some extent, very wary of this process. But
they assigned former South African President Thabo Mbeki to work with the
parties on this process. And I think he helped a great deal to convince the
African Union that this was the right way to go, that after two, long civil
wars, the sentiment in the south was so great, that achieving a peaceful
separation, in this case, was the better alternative.
CONAN: There continues to be friction between Ethiopia and Eritrea. There is
already friction between South Sudan and the north.
Mr. LYMAN: There is friction. And we're learning some lessons from Ethiopia
and Eritrea. It's interesting that the U.N. special representative in Sudan
is an Eritrean who fought for the Eritrean independence and has experience
in what happened subsequently. And his advice has been extremely helpful to
the two parties not to make the same mistakes that happened between Eritrea
CONAN: Ambassador Lyman, thanks very much for your time. We wish you the
best of luck.
Mr. LYMAN: Thank you very much, Neal. Appreciate it.
CONAN: Princeton Lyman, special envoy to Sudan. He joined us here in Studio
Tomorrow, life after the streets. We'll talk with NPR's Jacki Lyden about
her recent series on recovery after prostitution.
This is TALK OF THE NATION, from NPR News. I'm Neal Conan, in Washington.
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