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A Short Window to Resuscitate South Sudan’s Ailing Peace Deal
A Short Window to Resuscitate South Sudan’s Ailing Peace Deal
Report 186 / Africa

中国在南苏丹争取政治友谊

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在南北苏丹分离之后,北京加快了步伐,重新定位与新产生的两个国家的交往接触,最显著的即是通过与朱巴争取建立新的政治友谊。中国给予喀土穆的历来支持留给了南苏丹辛酸的过往,但双方经济利益的潜力意味着双边关系正在书写新的篇章。然而,平衡朱巴的新朋友和喀土穆的老朋友确实需要巧妙的周旋。中国已经被卷入了南北苏丹间风险极高的石油危机,其结果可能会破坏与朱巴在其他方面快速扩展的关系。解决危机的可持续方案不可能孤立地达成;南北稳定、互利的经济活力和中国的利益安全也将取决于对其他悬而未决的政治和安全问题的解决,其中包括苏丹被边缘化的外围地区。北京与南北苏丹同时进行接触的未来走势以及与南苏丹之后的双边关系,将部分取决于如何处理石油对峙——以及更广泛的改革议程。

南苏丹为其2011年自决公投做出准备时,中国认识到其独立与日俱增的必然性。急于保持稳定的关系以及持续目前主要位于南苏丹的石油投资,中国的立场随着政局变化而演变。北京渴望维护和扩大其在南苏丹石油行业的足迹,但中国企业也正在涌向其他领域,尤其是在一个几乎什么也没有的国家进行基础设施建设。

中国对于新的政治和经济关系的培养最明显地体现在去年与朱巴之间猛增的双边交流。总统萨尔瓦·基尔将于未来几周内作为国家元首首次访华,预期双边交流将由此达到顶峰。由于寻求与南苏丹建立联系,中国人渴望拿自己在经济转型和快速发展农村方面的经验加以比较,同时强调两国都曾沦为帝国主义列强殖民地的共同历史经历。

南苏丹非常“欢迎商业往来”,积极寻求来自西方、东方以及这两者之间任何地方的直接外资投入。朱巴与西方的历史纽带或许最强,但它明确表示如果中国首先进驻并成为发展这个新国家的合作伙伴,那么南苏丹将毫不犹豫地欢迎他们。此外,中国“无附加条件”的政治方法和经济合作模式也吸引着朱巴以外的非洲大陆国家,不仅仅是那些资源丰富急于迅速发展的国家。由于朱巴对新投资敞开大门,它应该将两个关键因素考虑在内。首先是其打造的经济合作伙伴之间的相互关系、新兴国家的特点及其外交政策。尽管它希望与西方保持政治一致,但是时间将证明与中国或是其他国家扩展经济伙伴关系是否更有吸引力。目前来看,南苏丹希望欢迎并充分利用所有参与者的利益。

其次,在日益增剧的预算危机中,朱巴必须考虑如何确保和进行投资,以最好地服务于其发展规划,平息国内不安全因素并防止国家愈加脆弱。它必须积极塑造新的经济关系,而不是成为一个被动的外国授权投资的接受者。考虑到政府能力有限,立法框架未经考验,南苏丹的经济规划者必须小心利用这些投资以服务于自身利益,以免资源争夺遍及这个非洲最新成立的国家。

自独立以来的九个月中,在朱巴的中国公民及商人的数量已经大幅飙升。除了石油,中国企业最感兴趣的是基础设施建设,并且,南苏丹也什么都缺:路、桥梁、通讯设施、发电厂、医院、市政大楼、污水处理设施、水坝以及灌溉系统和新的石油基础设施。公司正在进行注册和可行性研究,并起草建议,但主体交易还有待落实。虽然中国的中央政府经常起着协助确保市场准入的作用,但中国与南苏丹的接触并非整体式。民营企业和小型企业正推动着新投资,与国家层面的投资量不相上下。

不仅一些朱巴的精英仍然犹豫不决,认为不该把所有赌注下在某一个合作伙伴上,就连那些最渴望取得重大经济合作的人也认为不该有中国垄断。北京在2012年1月肯定了提供经济方案的意图,包括发展赠款和可能达10亿美元的基础设施贷款,细节正在谈判中。但笼罩朱巴石油行业的新的不确定性和仍将继续的南北不稳定性已经改变了平衡,并可能减少最终提供的资金总额。考虑到北京的政府“政策”银行目前有多重融资机会,所以使得贷款更加敏感?贷款规模可能与发放给其它资源丰富的非洲国家的规模并不匹配。不管怎样,中国企业将积极寻求合作,虽然大部分企业更青睐贷款融资,给中国公司和合作项目牵线搭桥。刚刚萌芽的双边关系近来有些紧张,因为北京已被令人不安地卷入南北苏丹的石油争端。联合国和其他伙伴支持的非洲联盟(AU)小组继续推动着双方谈判。有关安全、边界、公民、财政安排和石油出口的紧张谈判尚未达成具体协议,并且因为苏丹边境州持续不断的冲突复杂化。僵局导致石油行业在2012年初被关闭,这危及了经济并激发了新的战争言论。大部分剩余的石油现在位于南苏丹,但由中国主要承建的石油开采基础设施——管道、炼油厂和输出端——则在北苏丹。考虑到相对适中的已探明储量,无论从北苏丹还是南苏丹进口石油都不再像曾经那样占据中国全球能源战略的重要地位。但考虑到在开发和运营石油行业上的巨额投资,南北苏丹对于中国国有石油巨头中国石油天然气集团公司(CNPC)仍然重要,也因此成为中国政府的焦点。

由于2011年底针对南北石油协议的谈判濒临沉没,中国站到了舞台中央,国际社会(和两个苏丹的)许多人认为北京将被迫进行干预。朱巴希望在向喀土穆施压以达成合理交易上得到帮助,而当北苏丹开始没收南苏丹石油时,朱巴将中国的无所作为解释为被动共谋并转而利用中国日益尴尬的处境。

与此同时,在之前由喀土穆牵头的石油合同移交中,中国领导的石油财团参与到他们自己与朱巴的一系列谈判中。财务条款维持不变,但其他方面做了重大改变,以加强以前忽略的社会、环境和雇佣标准。根据与喀土穆的激烈争论,朱巴也与中方极力讨价还价,以包含能够将石油公司利益与自身利益保持一致的措施,以及保证在石油行业被关闭的情况下具备相当大的法律权利和代偿性保护的措施。朱巴还确保了在公司协助解决与喀土穆的僵局以及其他方面基础之上,对合同在石油行业关闭期过后进行延期的任意决定权。并行谈判之间的相互作用为中国日益复杂的处境添加了又一个维度。

双方以及众多国际行动者以为中国会更加坚定地进行权衡,虽然对北京的影响力的看法以及准备运用其影响力是不现实的。关闭油田,绑架在南科尔多凡州的中国建筑工人,以及驱逐一个中国领导的石油财团都加重了北京棘手的政治问题,并在身处南苏丹和北苏丹的中国公民中引发焦虑。两个苏丹都仍在试图将中国拉入各自阵营,但北京拒绝偏袒任意一方,因为其主要目标仍是平衡南北关系。

这就是说,许多人——包括北京方面的人——都认为中国可以并应该采取更多行动以确保和平解决争端,并且不妥协其利益或坚持一贯坚持的不干涉原则。最近南北谈判中的一个转变为国际社会提供了一个可能的新切入点,包括让中国有机会协助打破僵局,缓和自身立场并加强两个国家内部和之间的稳定。北京在最近几周已经表明新的参与迹象,但国内局势相对脆弱和向外交部提供的资源有限也必须考虑在内。中国的外交能力并不总与其在国际舞台上所占据的强国地位相匹配。

石油僵局可能影响中国与苏丹接触的节奏,但不太可能令其停滞。由于朱巴觉得中国仍然“把它当做一个省而不是一个独立的国家”而有所不满,所以将继续提出要求,特别是就其石油行业的管理。但如果务实地进行管理,为双方经济利益带来的机会应该胜过时不时的紧张局势。中国在南苏丹新的征程和其试图平衡与两个苏丹的关系已被证明是棘手的任务,然而,这将继续挑战其外交政策的界限。

朱巴/北京/内罗毕/布鲁塞尔,2012年4月4日

South Sudan's President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Macharshake hands after talks on South Sudan's proposed unity government with Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni at State House in Entebbe, on November 7, 2019. AFP/Michael O'Hagan
Statement / Africa

A Short Window to Resuscitate South Sudan’s Ailing Peace Deal

A negotiated 100-day extension for naming a unity government has averted a crisis imperilling a ceasefire between South Sudan’s main belligerents. Regional leaders should use the time to pressure them to agree on how to divide the country into states, an essential step for peace.

On 7 November, President Salva Kiir and armed opposition leader Riek Machar agreed to a second extension of the deadline for forming a unity government, a requirement of their September 2018 agreement aimed at ending South Sudan’s six-year civil war. The 100-day deferral, brokered at an emergency summit in Uganda, comes after a six-month delay in May. Importantly, it keeps alive the war’s longest ceasefire. But it does not bring the two sides closer to resolving their core differences. One issue that is critical to breaking the impasse is an agreement on the number and boundaries of states, which set the distribution of power across the country. Absent such an agreement, Kiir and Machar may have little incentive to form a unity government or to strike final bargains on unifying the army and security arrangements in the capital Juba. Mediators from Uganda, Sudan and Kenya should step up efforts to forge a deal on states. If they cannot do so before January, the new extension’s midpoint, other African leaders should step in. If the two sides cannot agree on states, they risk sliding back into war.

The extension of the deadline for the unity government’s formation was necessary but does not in itself guarantee progress.

The extension of the deadline for the unity government’s formation was necessary but does not in itself guarantee progress on the 2018 peace deal’s implementation, as Crisis Group made plain several weeks ago. Mediated by Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni, Sudan’s Sovereign Council chair General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and Kenya’s envoy Kalonzo Musyoka at a Tripartite Summit attended by Kiir and Machar, the deferral preserves a ceasefire that has largely ended five years of war. Thanks to the truce, South Sudanese enjoy more freedom of movement and better access to their fields and humanitarian aid. Rushing the unity government while the parties remained so far apart on key issues – crucially, those of states and internal boundaries, army reform and security arrangements in Juba – could have risked the ceasefire’s bloody collapse. Yet making progress now requires effective diplomacy from outside high-level mediators whose limited engagement over the past year gives little cause for optimism.

A Short Window to Resuscitate South Sudan’s Ailing Peace Deal

Crisis Group's Senior Analyst for South Sudan Alan Boswell recounts what he found during his field trip to South Sudan and touches upon Crisis Group's recommendations for this 100-day period. CRISISGROUP

The question of states and boundaries is one immediate stumbling block. Outstanding issues on the army are important and will likely be difficult to resolve, but the parties have agreed to a roadmap, even if it needs amending. Joint security committees established by the 2018 peace deal are operating and surprisingly collegial and there does not appear to be an absolute impasse. In contrast, on states and boundaries, discussions are deadlocked; committees created to resolve the issue have failed and disbanded. Security arrangements in Juba are also critical, as Crisis Group has previously underscored, given that the capital has been a flashpoint in the past and because Machar will not go back without his security ensured. But negotiations on that issue are, in essence, on hold, largely because Machar almost certainly will not return to the capital absent a deal on states and boundaries. If the two men can strike such a deal, then the road to a unity government becomes clearer and pressure will mount to resolve outstanding issues related to the army and Juba security. A priority for international mediators should be to unlock the states and boundaries question.

Both Kiir and Machar bear responsibility for creating that dispute.

Both Kiir and Machar bear responsibility for creating that dispute. In 2011, when South Sudan became an independent nation, it had ten states. State governors wield substantial power, access to resources and influence over political appointments down to the local level. Powerful allies of both Kiir and Machar, who at the time was Kiir’s vice president, wanted to increase the number of governors so as to widen the pool of spoils. In turn, state boundaries matter a great deal, as they can determine which ethnic group dominates each state and benefits from its resources, including oil. In 2014, after the civil war began, Machar called for redividing the country into 21 states. Kiir subsequently redrew the map to divide it into 28, and later 32, states, carved up to favour his political base.

The 32-state configuration is a source of great aggravation to Machar and many of his fighters. Rebel hardliners view it as surrender for Machar to join a unity government so long as that configuration remains in place. Meanwhile, some armed groups in Machar’s coalition vow to keep fighting if there is no change to specific boundaries, which they believe have been used to apportion their land to other groups. The most bitter of these disputes is over control of Malakal, a city in South Sudan’s north east that was once one of its three administrative capitals. Since Machar is the weaker party, his commanders know that he will have little leverage once in government to win concessions on states or boundaries. For this reason, he is unlikely to join a unity government absent a new deal on those questions. Nor, indeed, should diplomats attempt to force him to do so: were that to happen, the new government would immediately deadlock over the issue and Machar’s coalition might splinter, leading to renewed but more fragmented conflict.

If pressed hard enough, Kiir could budge from the 32-state configuration.

There could be a way to break the impasse. Many insiders to whom Crisis Group has spoken believe that, if pressed hard enough, Kiir could budge from the 32-state configuration, especially if mediators made clear that intransigence would mean he would shoulder much of the blame should the peace deal collapse over this issue. Machar has also said in private that he is not wedded to a specific number of states so long as he is not forced to accept the status quo.

Nor do the stickiest boundary disputes, especially over Malakal and its surrounds, need to hold up the process. The two sides could settle on a compromise on the number of states, even as a temporary arrangement. At the same time, they could bracket for later the most contentious boundary disputes, like those around Malakal, while setting in place a process for addressing them. This workaround would offer those of Machar’s fighters who are primarily concerned with boundaries a genuine alternative to perceived surrender or a return to war.

The roadmap the two sides have agreed upon is unrealistic, underfunded and fraught with logistical delays.

With an agreement on states and boundaries and a unity government in sight, mediators are more likely to make progress on the other major obstacles: a reasonable timetable for unifying a government and rebel armed forces into a single national army and security arrangements in Juba. On the former, Kiir and Machar have made some progress on a technical deal that would unify a first batch of 83,000 fighters and, as noted, commissions charged with advancing army reform are functioning. But the roadmap the two sides have agreed upon is unrealistic, underfunded and fraught with logistical delays. Kiir’s government is justifiably concerned that Machar is using cantonment – a process the 2018 peace deal lays out for assembling and registering his forces – to amass fighters. Bolstering rebels’ ranks jeopardises the peace process, because Machar could draw on more forces if the ceasefire collapses and because Kiir’s camp may refuse to integrate such a large number of opposition loyalists into the military. For their part, Machar and his allies fear that Kiir will renege on pledges to bring in their forces.

Work toward an agreement on the army should not sit still even if international mediators are focusing primarily on states and borders. Machar will need to make compromises – involving a more realistic timeline, rigorous screening of his forces to reduce the number of new recruits and a reasonable ceiling for the number he can bring into the army – and he is unlikely to do so until the states and boundaries questions are resolved. At the same time, Kiir needs to show that he is committed to integrating opposition contingents. Important first steps would be releasing funds for army unification and making progress on creating new joint units.

Settling the issue of states could also facilitate resolving the question of Machar’s personal safety in the capital. Negotiations over that issue will likely only commence in earnest once Machar believes he has the go-ahead to return to Juba from his coalition, which requires a deal on states. That said, some preparatory steps could help. The UN Security Council could, for example, consider mandating the UN Mission in South Sudan or request assistance from regional states to offer Machar third-party protection. This would prevent him from using his safety as the rationale for returning with a large opposition contingent, as he did in 2016; fighting subsequently erupted in Juba between his and Kiir’s fighters. Kiir has reportedly indicated that he would accept third-party protection, presumably since it would allow him to maintain military hegemony in the capital. African and Western diplomats will likely need to pressure Machar to do so, though he is unlikely to consider such an offer until he is ready to form a unity government and once his own negotiations with Kiir over the issue reach an impasse.

The costs of failing to resolve key disagreements are rising.

The costs of failing to resolve key disagreements are rising. The ceasefire is unlikely to indefinitely survive without forward momentum and if South Sudanese on all sides lose hope in the peace deal. Moreover, despite the benefits that the ceasefire has brought much of the country, conflict still rages in parts of the Central Equatoria and Western Equatoria regions between the government and rebel leader Thomas Cirillo, who is not a signatory to the peace agreement. Consolidating the 2018 peace deal’s gains would allow international actors to focus on pressuring Kiir and Cirillo to negotiate an Equatorias ceasefire.

An accord between Kiir and Machar – first on states and then on security arrangements – will require concerted diplomacy. That Uganda’s President Museveni and Sudan’s Burhan brought Kiir and Machar together for the 7 November meeting is encouraging albeit overdue: it was the first such high-level mediation this year even as the peace deal stalled. This track must be sustained. These leaders should schedule another high-level meeting by early January, the midway point set for reviewing progress; that meeting should focus on brokering a way forward on the configuration of states so as to break the impasse. Mediators, working with South Sudanese civil society delegates to the peace process, should begin drafting compromise plans to put before the two leaders to get talks started.

Regional states should set aside their remaining divisions and pressure the South Sudanese parties to find common ground.

If this fails, others need to step up. The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) should call a wider heads of state summit to resolve the issue. The sub-regional bloc itself has been divided over several issues, including its leadership succession, quarrels over which have repeatedly postponed a summit. Now that Sudan has assumed the chair from Ethiopia, these disagreements are over. Regional states should set aside their remaining divisions and pressure the South Sudanese parties to find common ground. For their part, the so-called C5 group of African nations, which is chaired by South Africa, also comprises Algeria, Chad, Nigeria and Rwanda, and was mandated by the African Union to support IGAD’s efforts, should press IGAD members to convene a summit and Kiir and Machar to reach an agreement on states and boundaries. Donors led by the U.S. and the EU should do the same.

Both Kiir and Machar face dangers in continuing to stall in forming a unity government, even after this second, 100-day reprieve. The pressure on Machar’s cash-poor coalition will only mount if he remains outside Juba as Kiir’s regime rakes in oil revenue. The longer the deadlock persists, the likelier more defections and a split in Machar’s rebel forces. Kiir, meanwhile, will face renewed isolation if war breaks out. Indeed, officials from the U.S., South Sudan’s largest donor and historical partner, are losing patience with him and Machar and say they are inclined to re-evaluate relations and impose sanctions on key individuals in both camps.

Both men may be nearing their last chance to make peace together in the country they helped birth.

To bolster mediation efforts, Washington could respond to calls from Congress to nominate a special envoy to South Sudan senior enough to conduct high-level shuttle diplomacy in the region and augment the efforts of U.S. allies in the so-called Troika, the UK and Norway, which already have their own envoys. The AU Peace and Security Council could also outline to Kiir and Machar that they would face punitive measures, including targeted sanctions, if they fail to reach an agreement. The Council threatened to move toward sanctions last year; the parties signed the peace deal soon thereafter.

Both men may be nearing their last chance to make peace together in the country they helped birth. Kiir, as the stronger party, is well able to absorb the costs of peace; his close advisers should encourage him to do so. Machar’s allies should press him, too, to make this peace deal work, since he may not get another shot at helping lead the country. There is a path forward, should they choose to take it.