South Sudan: Kiir Heads to Addis Ababa As International Community Calls for Comprehensive Deal

Photo: Isaac Billy/UN Photo
Omar Hassan Ahmad Al-Bashir, President of Sudan, and Salva Kiir Mayardit, President of the Republic of South Sudan, greet each other at the Independence Ceremony of the new nation.

Juba/Khartoum — South Sudan on Friday announced its president Salva Kiir will join the negotiating team in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa, where a presidential summit organised by the African Union mediation over post secession disputes will be held.

The presidential meeting between the two leaders comes under huge international pressures aiming to incite Sudanese and South Sudanese presidents to take courageous decisions breaking the stalemate over issues mainly related to border disputes.

Delegations have officially agreed on oil transportations fees, and security arrangements but in the implementation of this sensitive deal is hampered by a map drawn by the African Union without Khartoum's consent. Sudan persists to maintain its refusal to operationalise the buffer zone unless Mile 14 area is removed of this map.

The initial purpose of the meeting is to discuss a proposition already submitted by the mediation to the two presidents over Abyei area but seemingly other files will be added as the heads of the negotiating teams sometimes do not feel sufficiently invested to take alone a decision over issues like border security.

Speaking after the weekly cabinet briefing on Friday, Barnaba Marial Benjamin, minister of information and a government spokesperson vowed the commitment of the government to reaching last settlement with the government of Sudan over post secession dispute.

"President Salva Kiir will join our negotiating team in Addis Ababa. He will first hold meetings with negotiators and mediators before meeting his Sudanese counterpart on Sunday," Benjamin said in a statement broadcast by South Sudan Television on Friday

Marial said the aims and objectives of the government are to reach peace and settle dispute on all outstanding matters and that peace "will enable our citizens both in the north and the South to utilise our own resources for the development of land and to uplift the life standard of inhabitants. We also aim to bring peace and stability as a basic need."

The presidential meeting was welcomed by the UN chief Ban Ki-moon , UN Security Council and European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.

Ban Ki-moon in a statement issued Friday urged the two leaders to conclude a comprehensive deal during the Presidential summit in Addis Ababa on 23 September.

In a statement read by German Ambassador Peter Wittig, who chairs the Security Council for September 2012, the 15 members body stressed it is the responsibility of presidents Bashir and Kiir " exercise constructive leadership and demonstrate the political will to ratify the progress made and bridge the remaining gaps to ensure the successful conclusion of the negotiations on September 23."

Ashton said that Addis Ababa meeting is a " unique opportunity" for the two leaders to " set their countries on the path to peace and prosperity, based on the concept of two viable states."

Marial explained that acceptance of President Kiir to meet his Sudanese counterpart Omer Al-Bashir shows the commitment of the government and people of South Sudan to achieve lasting peace with Sudan.

He further added that Kiir's meeting with Bashir is a response to the African Union recommendation which requests the two heads of states to wrap discussions and to formally end negotiations and sign the agreement after holding discussions to conclude talks.

The Security Council was briefed on 20 September by Special Envoy Haile Menkerios on the progress of the process in Addis.

International diplomats in Addis Ababa spoke about constructive talks ruled out that the two parties reach a comprehensive deal in Sunday's meeting.

"There is a sense of disappointment among mediators that both sides will only take one step forward. They are not ready for a lasting peace deal," said a senior western diplomat.

International community, which was hoping last May though its Resolution 2046 to force the two parties to settle definitively the unresolved issues, is now hoping to contain the crisis and prevent return of hostility.

The resumption of oil exportation and stopping the support of both parties to rebel groups through the establishment of the demilitarised zone seems the main objective at this stage.

Also, opening the common border for trade between the two sides will be one of the objective the mediators might seek to reach.

Diplomats also agree that the implementation of these deals and the future of the process between the two countries depend on the talks with the Sudanese rebels who are closely linked to Juba.

Last year before to confiscate South Sudanese oil, Khartoum accused Juba of supporting rebels with the oil money and refusing at the same time to conclude a deal over oil transportation.

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InFocus

High Level Talks Aim to Settle Sudan Disputes

Omar Hassan Ahmad Al-Bashir, President of Sudan, and Salva Kiir Mayardit, President of the Republic of South Sudan, greet each other at the Independence Ceremony of the new nation.

The leaders of the two Sudans are under huge international pressure at high-level talks in Addis Ababa to take courageous decisions breaking the stalemate between them, mainly over ... Read more »