17 March 2013

Sudan Says It Completed Troop Pullout From Buffer Zone

Khartoum — The Sudanese government has submitted a formal letter to the commander of the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) declaring that the area south of the January 1956 border line is free of any presence by Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) as per the security deal signed last week with South Sudan which calls for immediate withdrawal of all troops out the demilitarized border zone.

In a separate written statement Sudan's Defense Minister Abdel-Rahim Mohamed Hussein said that country's withdrawal reflects its commitment to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution 2046, the security arrangements agreement concluded on September 27, 2012 with Juba, the implementation matrix approved by the Joint Security and Political Mechanism (JSPM) on March 8, 2013 and the declaration by the two countries to commit themselves to the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of troops from the other side of the border.

The minister stressed his governments' keenness on activating mechanisms agreed upon between the two countries which aims at achieving peace, security and stability across the joint border areas.

He also affirmed his country's readiness to discuss all security concerns raised through the JPSM as well as demonstrate sufficient flexibility to launch any new mechanisms that may allay fears and build trust between the two ex-foes.

A week ago South Sudan president Salva Kiir ordered an immediate withdrawal of the country's army from the buffer zone.

Yesterday Lt. General Emad Adawi, a Sudanese member from the JPSM, confirmed that armies of the two countries completed the withdrawal of their troops from disputed border areas.

This month the JPSM agreed that troops from the two sides should pull out of disputed areas within seven days, starting from March 10th. The agreement also provides for the withdrawal of troops in the 'Mile 14' area within 14 days.

A joint monitoring force called (JBVMM) composed of 90 monitors from each side and a protection battalion composed of 860 Ethiopian troops from UNISFA will patrol the common border to verify the movement of troops from both sides.

In a related issue, the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) political secretary, Hassabo Mohamed Abdul-Rahman, called upon the political forces and civil society organizations to positively contribute in building strong relations with South Sudan, adding that timely implementation of agreements signed is an important step towards settling the Abyei issue and crises in the border states of Blue Nile and South Kordofan.

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