10 November 2012

Sudan: AU Commission Chief Concerned By the Delay in Sudans' Buffer Zone

Photo: Stuart Price/UN Photo
Aftermath of fighting (file photo).

Juba — The Chairperson of the African Commission, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma on Saturday welcomed the convening of the Joint Political and Security Mechanism (JPSM) meeting, but regretted the delay in the operationalisation of the buffer zone.

The second ordinary JPSM meeting, held in Juba, the South Sudan capital from 6-8 November, was co-chaired by Sudan Defence Minister, Abdel Rahim Hussein and his South Sudan counterpart, John Kong.

Kong, in a brief media address on Thursday, described the meeting as "fruitful", adding that both parties agreed on the operationalisation of the safe demilitarized military zones as well re-affirming their commitment to implementation of all aspects of the agreement signed on 27 September, including provisions in the Memorandum of Understanding on non-aggression.

His Sudanese counterpart held similar statements about the meeting despite the persistence of diverges over the deployment of troops on the common border of South Kordofan and Blue Nile where the Sudanese army fight rebel groups .

The AU Commission Chairperson, however, expressed concerned that the meeting failed to reach an agreement on practical steps to implement security arrangements contained in the agreements, which were signed by the two countries' leaders in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The Parliaments of both South Sudan and Sudan also ratified the agreements on 16 and 17 October respectively.

"The Chairperson of the Commission stresses the need for the full and timely implementation of the security arrangements, to enhance confidence between the two States along their common border, and to facilitate the full implementation of all the other Agreements reached," reads a statement from the AU High Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP).

South Sudan defence minister said the joint patrols are to be only deployed in the disputed areas but not on the border with the Two Areas.

The parties will resume talks in Khartoum soon.

In a related development, the AU Commission head also called for a peaceful resolution to the conflict in Sudan's South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, citing the 24 October communiqué issued by the Peace and Security Council (PSC) at its 339th meeting held at ministerial level in Addis Ababa.

The communiqué, also obtained by Sudan Tribune, urged the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement- North (SPLM-North) to convene direct negotiations, under the auspices of the AU High-Level Implementation Panel on Sudan and South Sudan (AUHIP), by 10 November 2012.

The statement, however, noted that despite sustained efforts by the AUHIP to consult both parties in the conflict, the panel would not be able to convene direct negotiations by 10 November due to "unforeseen logistical reasons".

"Consultations are ongoing for direct talks to be convened as early as possible. The AUHIP, through the AU Commission, will soon announce a date for direct talks," it adds.

An estimated 520,000 people, according to a recent UN report, have been displaced or severely affected by conflict in South Kordofan besides some 205,000 refugees from South Kordofan and Blue Nile, who are now in South Sudan and Ethiopia.

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