By Tesfa-Alem Tekle
April 4, 2012 (ADDIS ABABA) - Ethiopia and South Sudan have agreed to undertake a range of joint activities along their shared border.
- Presidents [L-R], Salva Kiir of South Sudan, Mwai Kibaki of Kenya and Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia raise their joined hands on March 2, 2012 during the ceremony of an ambitious port project in Kenya’s resort town of Lamu (GETTY)
Representatives from Ethiopia’s Gambella and South Ethiopia Nation Nationalities and Peoples state (SNNP) regions and South Sudan’s Jonglei, Upper Nile and Easter Equatoria states met in Ethiopia’s Gambela town last week to discuss ways of fostering cooperation over a broad range of interests and concerns.
Gambella state chief Umod Ubong and the Jonglei deputy governor Hussien Mar have signed the agreement.
The bordering regions of the two countries will undertake a number of development activities and will make coordinated efforts to further strengthen the ties between its people.
- Jonglei state deputy governor Hussein Mar Nyot (Source: http://jonglei-sd.org)
The two sides have also agreed to work together on border security, to ensure sustainable peace and stability. They will undertake joint measures to combat armed groups which pose a threat to the security of the border regions.
David Kong Dang, deputy head of mission at the embassy of South Sudan in Addis Ababa told Sudan Tribune that the joint border commission meeting had been “fruitful”.
Dang said both delegations have agreed to control the illegal movement of people across the border by establishing immigration checkpoints at the main crossings at Gambella and Akoba on Ethiopian side and Pagak and Nasir areas on the South Sudanese side.
This is the first major joint agreement to be signed between the countries at regional level since South Sudan officially gained independence in July 2011.
In March the first Ethiopia-South Sudan Joint Ministerial Commission meeting was held in Juba with the signing of eight Memoranda of Understandings to advance economic and political ties. They covered issues including transit, communications, transport, exports education and capacity building.
A Memorandum of Understanding was also signed on a Joint Strategic Partnership aimed at promoting development, peace, security and stability in the region and Africa as a whole.