The Monitor (Kampala)

22 June 2011

Uganda: Museveni, Kiir Discuss Sudan

Kampala — President Museveni yesterday met Gen. Salva Kiir Mayardiit, President of South Sudan, ahead of the independence of the semi-autonomous territory on July 9.

The meeting, which took place at Mr Museveni's country home in Rwakitura, came a day after the north and South Sudan signed an agreement to end recent fighting in the oil-rich Abyei region and to demilitarise the disputed border town under the supervision of Ethiopian peacekeepers.

Clashes between Sudan Armed Forces and fighters loyal to the South Sudan government this month resulted in the death of at least 10 people while up to 63,500 others were displaced, according to initial estimates by UN agencies.

Details of President Museveni's meeting with Gen. Kiir were scanty.

A brief statement from the Office of the President only said "the two leaders discussed issues of bilateral and regional interest in the region ahead of the Independence Day of Southern Sudan on July 9, 2011."

South Sudan is due to become independent following a referendum in which it unanimously voted to secede from the main Sudan, a decision that will mark a split of Africa's largest nation into two.

President Museveni, who has been a key ally of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army since he came to power in 1986, was also instrumental in pushing for the progress of the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) signed in Nairobi in January 2005.

The January 9, 2011 referendum was a key provision of the CPA between north and South Sudan that ended decades-long civil war, during which about two million people were killed. While Sudan President Omar al-Bashir had promised to honour the results of the referendum in which at least 97 per cent of South Sudanese voted to secede from the north, recent clashes between the north and south over Abyei heightened tensions and threatened to re-ignite civil war.

Unresolved

The dispute over whether Abyei belongs to the north or south was expected to be settled in a parallel referendum in January but failure to hold it left the region as a major point of contention.

Fearing relapse into fighting, both the north and south approached Ethiopia Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and President Museveni to help them resolve the impasse.

Early this month, during the second Tripartite Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa, President Museveni met the advisor to President Bashir, Mr Mostafa Osman, who delivered a message asking the Ugandan leader to help him resolve the Abyei dispute. Monday's truce, which was negotiated in Addis Ababa, now paves the way for Ethiopia to send peacekeepers to Abyei.

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