War in Sudan will be too costly for all

That Sudan has declared war its southern neighbour an enemy is a devastating setback for peace and co-existence in the continent, and every effort must be made to resolve the differences between the two countries speedily.

Thursday April 19 2012

That Sudan has declared war its southern neighbour an enemy is a devastating setback for peace and co-existence in the continent, and every effort must be made to resolve the differences between the two countries speedily.

This cannot be done through diplomatic efforts by one country, or even by the eastern African region alone; it has to be a concerted effort by the African Union, the UN, and the respective development partners of the two sovereign states.

Early in the week, President Kibaki urged the East African Community member states to help broker peace between the two countries.

And on Wednesday, Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka offered to help the two countries reach an amicable solution to their differences, saying renewed war would have major consequences, not only on the economies of the two countries, but on the stability of the entire region as well.

The differences between Khartoum and Juba are almost entirely to do with oil.

The former accuses the latter of occupying one of its oil-rich towns, Heglig. It is an accusation echoed by the African Union which has accused the South of belligerence.

However, there is much more to this situation than a border dispute.

A failure to negotiate the mutual boundary has not helped matters. Nor has the failure to agree on how to share the oil revenue.

Southern Sudan seems to be the aggressor in this case, having invaded huge swathes of Sudan’s territory.

That is unacceptable. But on the other hand, Sudan’s Omar Al-Bashir says his eventual aim is to foment a regime change in the south.

After 21 years of conflict during which at least two million people died and millions more were displaced, the combatants know that renewed war is unlikely to have any winner.

Who will make the two countries see the sense in compromise?

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