The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Sudan Appeals to President On Border Row

SUDAN has appealed to President Mugabe to assist in resolving the dispute between it and South Sudan over the Abyei border. The two countries have been fighting for control of the border, hindering oil exports from South Sudan and cross-border trade.

Speaking after receiving a special envoy from Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir at her Munhumutapa offices in Harare yesterday, Acting President Joice Mujuru said the appeal was a result of "brotherly" ties between Zimbabwe and Sudan.

President al-Bashir sent his first Vice-President Ali Osman Taha with the special message.

"He had a message for President Mugabe sent by President al-Bashir, unfortunately he is on leave and will be back in the country on Thursday.

"President Bashir said President Mugabe should assist Sudan and South Sudan find peace. In his arbitration efforts, they suggested that President Mugabe should meet President Bashir as well as South Sudan President Salva Kiir. They said he should meet both sides for neutrality purposes."

The two countries met in Ethiopia last Friday and agreed to establish a demilitarised zone along the disputed border.

The Acting President, who was in the company of Acting Foreign Affairs Minister Nicholas Goche and Minister of State in her office Sylvester Nguni, said Africans should solve African problems.

"We discussed as brothers and sisters that outsiders are not the ideal people to discuss, decide and make conclusions on African issues.

"It is us Africans who understand ourselves better than anyone else."

VP Osman described last week's Ethiopia Summit as a success.

"I have briefed the Acting President on issues of mutual concern and generally the need to ensure peace is maintained in Africa," he said.

"I had the opportunity to brief her on the recent developments and the aftermath of the successful summit that took place in Ethiopia last Friday."

He said ties between Sudan and Zimbabwe should be strengthened.

"It is our hope that our presidents would continue working hard and witness our relations reaching the horizon."

The Acting President also met outgoing French ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Francois Ponge.

Mr Ponge, who leaves the country on January 13, commended President Mugabe for promoting education in the country.

"As a result of good policies, Zimbabwe has taken over from Tunisia as the country with the highest literacy rate and this is very important," he said.

"To me, the riches in a country are not in gold or diamonds, but the education in men and women. Education is an important asset that Zimbabwe has and on this basis the country can build a bright future."

Mr Ponge was evasive on illegal sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by the West.

"It's an element that includes other European countries, but I am leaving this country with hope for the future," he said.

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