Is Sudan’s President Omar Al-Bashir on his way to redemption?

President of Sudan, Omar Al-Bashir, has ordered that the borders between Sudan and South-Sudan be opened again, nearly 5 years after South Sudan seceded from his country. The president of South Sudan, Salva Kiir, ordered his soldiers to withdraw from the border between both countries earlier this week, raising speculations that a renewal of bilateral relations between these countries was underway.

However these speculations may have been put to rest  with reports that an agreement would “boost economic ties” between the two countries. This follows President Al-Bashir’s sudden turnaround barely a week after he agreed to reduce the levy Sudan imposes on South Sudan for using its oil pipelines.

South Sudan was then given its independence in 2011; a historic feat. However, there were many deaths in the civil war -popularly known as the Second Sudanese Civil war- including several civilian murders. These deaths created suspicions of genocide, especially in the Darfur region of Sudan. The International Criminal Court has been hounding Al-Bashir, since 2008, in order to see him answer to these crimes and he has been avoided these summons since then, aided by the African Union, India and China among other allies of the country.

South Sudan, on the other hand, is presently going through its worst conflict since its secession from Sudan in 2011, as it battles rebel groups loyal to former South Sudan’s Vice President, Riek Machar. This conflict, which started in 2013 after Machar was sacked by Kiir, has seen tens of thousands people die and millions more displaced. Despite the news that both Kiir and Marchar signed a ceasefire agreement in 2014, there are speculations that they were done under duress and so the conflict has raged on.

However, both Al-Bashir and Kiir have, before these times of acquiescing, accused each other of sponsoring rebels in the other’s territory. These new bilateral agreements between the 2 countries could see more involvement from Al-Bashir in the South Sudanese civil war. The lifting of the border restrictions could also see a more hands-on big-brother approach from Sudan towards South-Sudan, a role Al-Bashir is not familiar with, but can learn on-the-job.

The greatest issue in this region is the number of ethnic groups who want secession. Perhaps, the coming together of these two presidents will send out a message of unity; showing that people can actually live together in tolerance. Also, perhaps, Al-Bashir can finally answer the summons of the ICC in a bid to complete the redemption journey he seems to be embarking on.

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