Welcome Guest! You are here: Home » Special Reports
India first off the block after South Sudan revamp
Saturday August 10, 2013 6:38 PM, Rohit Bansal, IANS

Thirty-six hours after South Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayardit had his brand-new cabinet sworn in Wednesday, India's special envoy to the two Sudans, P.S. Raghavan, became the first international diplomat to be in Juba, pumping the right hands, and conveying New Delhi's continued role as a trusted partner in rebuilding the economy of the world's newest nation, but resolute not to take sides.

Indian envoy to South Sudan Parmod Bajaj told IANS that Raghavan, who doubles up as special secretary, development partnerships administration (DPA) in the Ministry of External Affairs, was given a 50-minute meeting with President Salva Kiir Friday, besides a red carpet rolled out for him by top ministers of the revamped cabinet.

Most ministers had not even attended office since their swearing in, because Friday, Saturday and Sunday were national holidays on account of Eid. So, in a measure of Juba's courtesy to the Indian special envoy, some opened the doors of their homes.

Raghavan, assisted by joint secretary, West Asia and North Africa (WANA), Sandeep Kumar, and Bajaj, had hour-long meetings each with Foreign Minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin, Petroleum and Mining, Energy and Industry Minister Stephen Dhieu Dau.

They had similar meetings with Irrigation, Electricity, Water and Dams Minister Abdalla Deng Nhial, Health Minister Riek Gai Kok and Rural Development, Agriculture, Forestry, Tourism, Animal Resources, Fisheries and Cooperatives Minister, Beda Machar Deng.

Raghavan also met the under secretaries of finance and planning, reporting directly to Salva Kiir's trusted economic czar, Minister for Finance and Commerce Aggrey Tisa Sabuni.

Securing oil equity, held by ONGC Videsh joint venture with the Chinese, Malaysians and the South Sudan's national oil company, tops Indian stakes in the stability of Africa's 54th nation that was born two years ago after splitting from Sudan. Projects in agriculture, rural development, training, and solar power, among others, are on DPA's offer list even as it remains committed to remain a partner of Khartoum (Sudan) too.

Like Beijing and Washington, New Delhi's key concern is the possibility of Khartoum turning the taps off in the pipelines that link South Sudan's oil fields to export facilities in the Red Sea. Aug 21 is the new deadline for this embargo, widely feared to reignite full-scale war between the two Sudans, pushing them back on the verge of economic collapse.

Khartoum accuses Juba of misusing oil money to fund rebel groups, a charge Salva Kiir denies strenuously. He claims Sudan's ruler, Omar al-Bashir, is funding rival militias against his ruling Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM).

A concerned United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon spoke to Salva Kiir on phone Wednesday, reminding him of the promise that he will ensure accountability of any abuses committed by SPLM's military wing, the Sudan People's Liberation Army.

Even as uncertainty associated with the Aug 21 embargo looms large, Salva Kiir is expected in New Delhi end-August for his inaugural visit Late July, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram eased an existing $500-million line of credit to Khartoum, taking a financial dent of about $200 million, but thus giving Salva Kiir a clear message that India shall not take sides in one of East Africa's bloodiest civil wars which ultimately broke up Sudan on July 9, 2011.

Raghavan is expected to undertake a follow-up visit to Khartoum soon, officials said. India does not view the dismissals of South Sudan vice president Riek Machar and SPLM secretary-general Pagan Amum Okiech as enough reason for investors to feel insecure about South Sudan's political stability.

Machar and Okiech were fired July 24 for challenging Salva Kiir's position. The South Sudan president used the opportunity to secure the resignations of all 59 ministers and deputy ministers, following this through by putting in place a cohesive team of 18 ministers and 10 deputy ministers Aug 7.

(Rohit Bansal is chief executive and co-founder, India Strategy Group, Hammurabi and Solomon Consulting, an advisory with expertise in South Sudan. He can be contacted at rohitbansal@post.harvard.edu)

Share this page
Note: By posting your comments here you agree to the terms and conditions of www.ummid.com
comments powered by Disqus
| Quick links
About ummid.com
Contact us
Subscribe to: RSS » Facebook » Twitter » Newsletter
Ummid.com: Disclaimer | Terms of Use | Advertise with us | Link Exchange
Ummid.com is part of the Awaz Multimedia & Publications providing World News, News Analysis and Feature Articles on Education, Health. Politics, Technology, Sports, Entertainment, Industry etc. The articles or the views displayed on this website are for public information and in no way describe the editorial views. The users are entitled to use this site subject to the terms and conditions mentioned.
© 2012 Awaz Multimedia & Publications. All rights reserved.