17 December 2012

South Sudan Reserved Over Mediation's Propositions Over Security Deal

Photo: Isaac Billy/UN Photo
Sudanese president Omar Al-Bashir and South Sudan president Salva Kiir (file photo).

Khartoum — South Sudanese delegation has expressed some reservations about the news propositions the African mediation made to break the stalled talks over the implementation of security arrangements with Sudan.

After the failure of the two parties to agree on the implementation mechanism of the 27 September security deal, Thabo Mbeki called the parties to meet in Addis Ababa where he made some propositions aiming to build confidence and to monitor the border to prevent rebels from crossing the common border or receive any support.

Sources from the Ethiopian capital said Khartoum delegation accepted the new proposition of the African Union panel, while the South Sudanese team showed reservations over the buffer zone and the disengagement with the SPLM-North.

Since last November, Sudan demands to extend the demilitarized zone by 50 kilometres in order to cover the common border with South Kordofan state where the SPLM-N fight against Khartoum army. Juba rejects the demand saying this issue is not part of the deal.

The initial deal provides to deploy joint patrols with the participation of UNISFA peacekeepers only in the five disputed areas along the border. But the deal does not specify to deploy troops along the 1800 kilometres of border between the two countries.

Mbeki received Monday the response of the two parties. The head of the South Sudanese negotiating team Pagan Amum and defence minister John Kong Nyuon stressed that they maintain their position over the two issues of the buffer zone and SPLM-N.

The mediation did not disclose the nature of its propositions but seemingly it aims to reassure Khartoum that Juba does not support the SPLM-N fighters.

Juba denies having authority over the Sudanese rebels who are now part of another state and established an independent party since the secession of South Sudan in July 2011 in line with the result of a referendum on self determination held in January of last year.

The South Sudanese government also dismisses accusations of support to the Blue Nile and South Kordofan rebels but Western diplomats demanded different times that Juba stops its support to the SPLM-N.

A member of the South Sudanese delegation said talks may resume after Christmas and new year holidays.

An agreement over the implementation of the security deal is considered crucial for the viability of the Cooperation Agreement which is thought to be the basis for strong bilateral relations between the two nations.

Khartoum refuses the exportation of the South Sudanese oil through its pipeline unless Juba disengages with the SPLM-N. Also, the Sudanese government says will negotiate with the rebels to end the South Kordofan and Blue Nile conflict once this disengagement is effective.

Reports from Addis Ababa say the chief mediator, on the other hand, failed to make a breakthrough in his discussions with the SPLM-N over the resumption of political process with Khartoum

In addition, he is scheduled to hold a meeting on Tuesday with the joint security committee members from both sides but no significant developments are expected.

SPLM-N delegation led by Malik Agar and Yasir Arman met with foreign diplomats present at the venue of the talks to explain its positions on the talks with the Sudanese government.

The SPLM-N proposes since months to sign a cessation of hostilities deal in exchange for the delivery of humanitarian assistance to the needy civilians in the rebel controlled areas.

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