20 July 2013

Sudan: Intentionally Broke Cooperation Agreement, Barnaba Says

Juba — Juba government has expressed its anger after Khartoum's letter of 7 July announcing it will stop the flow of South Sudanese crude oil to international markets via the Sudanese territory, accusing the latter of deliberately breaking a cooperation agreement signed last September.

South Sudan's information minister Barnaba Marial September 13, 2011 (ST)

"We are not surprised but we believe the decision by the government of Sudan to stop using its territory to export the oil to the international market is unjustifiable. It is just a clear manifestation of the deliberate plan and intention of the government of Sudan to dishonour the cooperation agreement", said information minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin.

"The government had repeatedly said and testified in various forums that it does not provide any support to any armed groups fighting Sudan. President Salva Kiir Mayardit himself had repeatedly testified", he added.

Since the independence of the South Sudan in July 2011, the two countries used to trade accusations of over a number of outstanding issues.

In September 2012 they however signed nine cooperation agreements brokered by an African mediation team headed by the former South African president Thabo Mbeki. The oil exportation, and support to rebel groups toped the signed deals.

The mediation hoped this Cooperation Agreement would respond to the two major concerns for the two governments oil for South Sudan and rebels for Sudan and create conducive environment to handle two remaining disputes : Abyei and border demarcation.

However, Khartoum continued to accuse Juba of supporting its former allies in the rebel South Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N), and announced on 7 June that the exportation of the South Sudanese oil will be stopped within 60 days unless Juba implements its part of the deal.

In an exclusive interview with Sudan Tribune, Marial expressed fear that the decision may irrevocably destroy the dream of two viable states co-existing peacefully.

The official spokesperson for South Sudan further said Khartoum "had intention to break the agreement" because it does not want to use the procedures and mechanisms provided for in the deal to address parties' grievances about the implementation processes.

"We feel the government of Sudan had [an] intention to violate the agreement because it has failed to use the procedures and the mechanisms which could be used to address any reservation about how the implementation processes [are carried out]", he said.

"There is a Joint Border Verification Monitoring Mechanism. There is also [the] Joint Political Security Mechanism and there is a joint border coordinating task at the level the two defence ministers with the membership from the general chief-of-staff from the two armed forces. These are bodies which can be used whenever there is an issue", he added.

Meanwhile, the spokesperson for the ministry of foreign affairs and international cooperation, ambassador Mawien Makol, said his government is seeking the intervention of powerful foreign nations to exert pressure on Sudan to respect the agreement signed with Juba.

Makol said the ministry had received the letter of notification from the Sudanese government through its embassy in Khartoum, adding that the letter has been extended to the ministry of petroleum and mining which later briefed the president and the cabinet on its ramifications.

"The cabinet listened to the briefing of the minister and agreed with the measures he had taken to reduce the production so as to avoid damage to the environment and to the infrastructure", Makol told reporters on Saturday.

China, the first investor and buyer of the South Sudanese oil, pledged to use its good relations with the two countries to reduce tensions between them and to ensure the implementation of the 27 September agreement and its implementation mechanism.

Khartoum, also, expressed hopes that China can convince South Sudanese to stop its support to the rebel groups but warned that it would not reverse its decision.

The African Union panel recently made a series of proposals aiming to ensure the effective implementation of the security arrangements and dispatched a team of experts to determine the centreline of the demilitarized border zone between the two countries.

on the other hand, Security delegations are expected to meet on Monday 22 July in Addis Ababa to discuss complaints of support to rebel groups from both sides.

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