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Long Borders: a Mercy or a Curse?

Omer B. Abu Haraz

Sudan has 6819 km land borders with seven countries i.e. 2158 km with S. Sudan, 1403 with Chad, 1276 with Egypt 744 with Ethiopia, 682 with Eritrea, 382 with Libya, 174 with the Central African Republic plus 853 km coastline in the Red Sea with Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). Depending on well or bad acting governance the long borders can be a curse or mercy.

Sudan governance since 1956 to date is far from being Well Acting Governance (WAG). The pillar of WAG is sustained democratic governance being a parliamentary or presidential system. Two good examples of WAG are in India and Kenya. The first is a parliamentary system, the other is presidential.

India acquired independence and became a sovereign state on January 26, 1950, after long colonization by British rule. India has 13,880 land borders with six countries i.e. 4142 km with Bangladesh, 3190 with Pakistan, 2659 with China, 1468 with Burma, 1779 with Nepal, 659 with Bhutan plus 7000 km coastline.

India is Well Acting Governance (WAG) of the parliamentary system, It is Wag because it started on the right foot of a Patriotic, Nationalistic and Charismatic leadership of Jawaharlal Nehru (1889 – 1964). His premiership lasted 17 years which to date is the longest in India. regardless of very long borders with 6 countries of which one was timeous with  Pakistan (3190 km) over the conflict of Kashmir region between India and Pakistan with playing a third=party role. The conflict started after the partition of India in 1947 as both India and Pakistan claimed the entirely of the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir.

The conflict escalated into three wars between India and Pakistan. The wisdom and guts of Nehru made India navigate safely to a strong, stable, and developing state without jeopardizing the efforts of keeping India intact till today. Now India is one of the strongest economies in the globe and fully enjoying the mercy of the long borders with 6 countries. The governance in India continued since independence in a sustained (WAG) albeit the assassination of two prime ministers – Indira Gandhi in 1984by one of her Sikh guards and her son Rajiv Gandhi in 1991 by a suicidal Tamil girl.

The second good example of (WAG) in the Mercy of Curse of long borders is Kenya. The (*WAG) is presidentially founded and stabilized by the nationalistic and charismatic leader Jomo Kenyatta who ruled from independence from British rule in 1963 to his death in 1978. He founded the party Kenya African National Union (KANU). He was succeeded by Daniel Arab Moi who ruled from 1978 to 2002. Arab Moi was succeeded by Kibaki from 2002 t0 2013 and succeeded by the incumbent president Uhuru Kenyatta. All four presidents assumed rule after General Presidential Election.

Kenya has 3457 km with 5 countries i.e. 86 7 km with Ethiopia, 684 with Somalia, 317 with S. Sudan, 775 with  Tanzania, 814 with Uganda plus 536 km coastline.

Both India and Kenya managed to improve their internal infrastructure, especially roads and railways in networks connecting Kenya and India to their borders. This helped in the creation of economic and security agreements with their neighbors. This led to fruitful enjoyment of the mercy of long borders.

In Sudan, the long borders became a curse. Most natural resources and subsidized commodities are smuggled out through the long borders to neighboring countries. The absence of road and railways networks aggravated the situation.

Poor and failed governance since independence led to the creation of areas at the borders which are threatening the peace and security of Sudan in the Eastern, Western, Southern, and the North-west with Libya, by the failed governance and absence of infrastructure the long borders are beyond doubt a curse.

In my opinion, the only way-out to turn the long borders into mercy is a strong Presidential Democratic Rule by a charismatic nationalistic leader who gives the improvement of infrastructure and bilateral productive good relations with neighboring countries top priority.

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