South Sudan Army Did Not Yet Withdraw From Disputed Areas, Spokesperson

Juba/Khartoum — The South Sudanese army has not received orders withdraw from the border disputed areas from its military leadership, said Philip Aguer SPLA spokesperson on Wednesday denying reports about removal of southern troops from the disputed areas.

"What the president has said was a policy statement. The operational directive to the ministry of defence from the presidency has not been issued," told Sudan Tribune.

Aguer spoke to Sudan Tribune after an announcement made in Khartoum by General Eiman Eldeen Adawi, member of the joint political security committee that President Salva Kiir has ordered the withdrawal of the SPLA troops from the disputed areas.

The Sudanese military who was briefing journalists this week about the outcome of the presidential summit over the implementation of security arrangements deal, further said the pulling out operation should terminate on 16 January.

Also, he added that Salva Kiir ordered to disengage with the SPLM- North and expected that 10 crossing points on the common border would be opened by the end of next March as talks on the technical preparations should start in Addis Ababa during the upcoming days.

The African mediation in a statement issued on 5 January said the two leaders directed that upcoming joint meeting of the security committee "should ensure that the Safe Demilitarised Border Zone is created without further delay consistent with these agreed Security Arrangements".

However, Aguer explained that the troops withdrawal should be initiated from both sides of the common border

"This is process will be monitored by an independent body to ensure that it has been started by both sides", Aguer told Sudan Tribune.

President Salva Kiir Mayardit, before travelling to Addis Ababa last week to attend a summit with his Sudanese counterpart, announced temporary withdrawal of the army from the border areas in order to allow implementation of the September deal.

In response to presidential announcement, South Sudanese deputy defence minister, Majak D' Agoot, toured the positions of the SPLA troops on the disputed border areas and held number of military briefings during which he explained the withdrawal processes to the soldiers.

He further warned that they must remain vigilant saying Sudanese army was taking advantage of withdrawal plans, instead of taking similar measures to pull out northwards from contested areas.

Following a UN Security consultations meeting on Bashir-Kiir summit on Tuesday, US Ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice urged the two parties to "move from rhetoric to action" and to implement the 27 September agreements without further delay.

In their 13 January meeting of the negotiating teams should focus on the rebel groups as the Sudanese sides insists that Juba government has to cut its support to the SPLM- North and other Darfur movements.

Further , since the first meeting of the joint political and security committee in Juba Sudan proposed also to extend the demilitarized zone to include the border with South Kordofan and Blue Nile in order to stop rebel cross border operations.

The SLPM-N Secretary General Yasir Arman said their troops control 40 percent of the border in South Kordofan and Blue Nile where they fight the government troops.

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