Africa: Mbeki & Ethiopia FM Head to Sudan On Thursday As Oil Deadline Looms

The head of the African Union High-level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) Thabo Mbeki, will arrive in Khartoum today accompanied by the Ethiopian foreign minister Tedros Adhan to hold consultations on the implementation of the joint cooperation agreement between Sudan and South Sudan.

In September of last year, both Sudan and South Sudan signed a series of cooperation agreements, which covered oil, citizenship rights, security issues, banking, border trade among others.

Last March, the two countries signed an implementation matrix for these cooperation agreements.

But last June, the Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir ordered the closure of all pipelines carrying oil from South Sudan. He said that the move was in response to South Sudan's funding of rebels fighting his government.

Khartoum says the rebel groups of Darfur, Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains are harboured and supported by the South Sudanese government. In return, Juba points out that the ongoing rebellion led by David Yau Yau in Jonglei is backed by the Sudanese authorities.

The Sudanese government emphasized that it will stop oil exportation at the announced date of 7 August.

Juba responded by reducing its oil output to 160,000 barrels per day from 200,000 barrels a day.

On Tuesday South Sudan's oil minister Stephen Dhieu Dau said that his country will complete the shutdown of its oil production by next week.

Dau said Juba implored upon its northern neighbor not to follow through on its threat and warned that the pipelines risk being damaged for good thus posing a loss to Khartoum and other investors.

Sudan's foreign ministry spokesperson, Abubakr Al-Sideeg, said in a press statement on Wednesday that Mbeki will meet with president Bashir and first vice president Ali Osman Taha as well as Sudan's negotiating team.

In the same context, the Sudanese government has called for expediting the work on determining the centerline of the demilitarized zone between the Sudan and South Sudan in order to facilitate border control, stressing its readiness to provide all possible assistance for the complaints committee.

The African AUHIP 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 demilitarised border zone between the two countries.

Sudan's undersecretary of foreign affairs, Rahamt Allah Mohamed Osman, discussed during his meeting with the AU Ad-Hoc Investigative Mechanism (AIM) the nature of its mission and expressed readiness to provide assistance to achieve its task.

The AIM which is comprised of three senior military officers arrived in Khartoum yesterday and heads later to Juba.

In the same context, the Sudanese government stressed that the decision made by South Sudan's president Salva Kiir to sack his vice president Riek Machar and members of his cabinet is an internal affair.

The director of South Sudan department at the foreign ministry, Badr al-Deen Abdallah, said that the recent developments within the government of South Sudan are internal issues, adding "what is important to us is the standing of South Sudan's government towards Sudan not the individuals".

On Tuesday, South Sudan's president Salva Kiir Mayardit sent shockwaves throughout the two-year old nation and issued a presidential decree firing his longtime Vice President Riek Machar and dissolving the entire cabinet.

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