Lamu port deal leaves Khartoum feeling put out

Posted: March 17, 2012 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Economy
Tags: , , , ,

(From left) Ethiopia PM Menez Zinawi, Kenya President Mwai Kibaki and South Sudan President Salva Kiir at the official launch of the Lamu port. Picture: Gideon Maundu

(From left) Ethiopia PM Menez Zinawi, Kenya President Mwai Kibaki and South Sudan President Salva Kiir at the official launch of the Lamu port. Picture: Gideon Maundu

By STEVE MBOGO and FRED OLUOCH

Sudan has voiced concerns that the commissioning of the Lamu Port and several other key infrastructure projects in the Horn of Africa risk undermining its economy, a sign that Khartoum is increasingly feeling isolated from the region.

Sudan’s deputy head of mission in Nairobi said there was a plan to alienate the country from the regional economy. Ali Mahmoud Abdurrasoul, the Sudanese Minister for Finance and National Economy, said that out of the nine infrastructure projects under the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (Igad), only two included Khartoum, with the majority involving Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda and now Somalia.

Khartoum officials said the country has tabled a complaint of economic sabotage with the African Union team handling its negotiations with Juba.

The new pipeline deal came only months after the East Africa Community declined Khartoum’s application to join the bloc, while agreeing to admit South Sudan as an observer member.

It is such developments that convince Khartoum of the ill intentions of the EAC member countries. The commissioning of the Lamu project is realigning East Africa’s geopolitics. Khartoum views the planned crude oil route as a plan to sabotage its economy, while a senior Ugandan official said the pipeline’s route should be extended to connect the country’s new oil fields.

Sudanese officials attending a regional infrastructure conference in Nairobi last week said the alternative pipeline from Juba to Lamu will make existing pipelines and refinery in the country redundant.

Dire situation

“We are concerned that the pipelines will be a loss for us. It’s a win-lose situation and not a good way to encourage regional economic integration. It is not good for regional politics,” said Hassan Elashi, chairman of the Sudan Chamber of Commerce at the conference on infrastructure and investment organised by Igad.

Khartoum officials appear to have been caught unawares by the swiftness with which Kenya, South Sudan and Ethiopia moved to commission the mega Lamu project.

With the transfer of most of the undivided country’s oil fields to South Sudan, Khartoum has been banking on transport and refinery fees to fill up the revenue void left and to keep its Chinese-built oil infrastructure working. But, Kenya maintained the project is for the benefit of regional efforts to develop joint interconnecting infrastructure projects.

“It is important we make it clear that the idea of this port was floated four decades ago. It was not motivated by the differences between the North and the South. It should be celebrated as a new trade corridor,” said Kenya’s Transport Minister Amos Kimunya.
South Sudan officials said differences with Khartoum over crude transport and refining will take time to resolve and the preference is to have other alternative routes to transport the crude oil.

“South Sudan is very careful now and we cannot trust just anyone. We want to have as many alternative routes as possible,” said Ngiol Bol, Director General of Rail and the Ministry of Transport in South Sudan.

Uganda put out too

Like Khartoum, Uganda too is seeking explanations from Kenya on why it was not adequately consulted and involved in the project when it has made oil discoveries of commercial value.

“Kenya was aware of our oil discovery and should have carried out wider consultations with us,” said Uganda Minister of Energy and Mineral Development Irene Muloni.

Uganda said it has started engaging Kenyan officials so that the design of the pipeline also links up the country’s oil fields.

“Discrimination against Sudan will not be tolerated. It is not fair that Sudan is a member of Igad but most projects leave out Sudan,” said Mr  Abdurrasoul.

Mayom Kuoc Malek, Deputy Transport Minister in South Sudan, was however insistent that as a landlocked country, it would make sense for Juba to diversify her  routes to the outside world.

“We need to have a pipeline in friendly countries that will not destabilise the transportation of  our products.,” said Mr  Malek, who noted that the resumption of the Northern oil route depends on what happens politically in the near future, and especially in the on-going negotiations in Addis Ababa.

http://www.theeastafrican.co.ke/news/Lamu+port+deal+leaves+Khartoum+feeling+put+out/-/2558/1368050/-/item/1/-/lt7817z/-/index.html

South Sudanese rally in TA against deportation

By BEN HARTMAN
The state has set an April 1 deadline for South Sudanese to return to their newly-established state.

South Sudanese protest against deportation in TABy Ben Hartman

More than a thousand South Sudanese and their supporters protested near the Tel Aviv Cinematheque on Saturday night under the banner “South Sudan is dangerous,” to ask for more time in Israel before returning to their country. They are due to be deported this month.

On January 31, the Population, Immigration and Borders Authority said that because South Sudanese now have their own country, and one that has friendly relations with Israel, they have until April 1 to leave Israel willingly or face deportation. Those who leave by the deadline will receive 1,000 euros per adult.

Protesters said they were not looking to stay in Israel indefinitely, but that due to the unstable nature of life in the country founded last July, being sent back now would place their lives in danger.

Members of the community and Israeli NGOs say there about 700 South Sudanese in Israel, while the Population, Immigration, and Borders Authority says the figure is around 3,000. In any case, they make up a small part of the more than 50,000 African asylum-seekers in Israel, the vast majority of whom are from Eritrea or Sudan.

According to authority spokeswoman Sabine Haddad, as of April 1 every time that Interior Ministry immigration patrols encounter South Sudanese migrants, they will have the option of arresting them, and sending them either to jail or to South Sudan.

Haddad added that since the announcement was made at the end of January, she does not know of any South Sudanese who has submitted an appeal to the Interior Ministry asking to stay in Israel.

South Sudan ranks near the bottom in almost every quality of life indicator and is severely lacking infrastructure, schools, hospitals and safe drinking water. While the desperate conditions and the continuing tensions with the north, that is with Sudan, could endanger many of those returning, because they do not face political persecution from the government in Juba, they have difficulty making a case that they are still political refugees.

Orit Marom of the refugee assistance organization “Asaf” said that the price of the cabinet decision to deport the South Sudanese “will be possible death, from war or famine, for many of those children who are here tonight.”

The demonstration was met by a few dozen counter-protesters who came to show support for the deportations.

Speaking of an “occupation” of Israel by “African infiltrators,” they described the migrants from South Sudan and across Africa as devastating for the quality of life in their neighborhoods, most of which were impoverished long before the influx of African migrants began in recent years.

One of the leaders of the counterprotest, city councilman and/ Hatikva neighborhood resident and activist Shlomo Maslawi, said the migrants have brought “a total collapse in the health and social services of the areas where they live. We are afraid and we no longer feel at home in our own neighborhoods.”

Natalina Kerba, a mother of three from South Sudan who has lived in Israel for six years, came from Nahariya to attend the protest. She spoke for many of the protesters when she asked the crowd from the stage on Saturday night, “Is there anyone here who would send their children to a place with no clean water, without enough food, to a place with no security?”

http://www.jpost.com/NationalNews/Article.aspx?id=262239

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