July 17, 2012 (KHARTOUM) — At the Saturday meeting in Addis Ababa, South Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayadrit offered financial support and mediation to President Omer Hassan Al-Bashir to bring the South Kordofan and Blue Nile conflicts to an end.
- Salva Kiir shakes hands with Omer Al-Bashir in Addis Ababa on 14 July 2012 (SUNA)
The one-to-one meeting was seen as a turning point in the deadlocked talks where the two parties had so far failed to make tangible progress on the outstanding issues, as each side accuses the other of seeking to oust him.
The "Sudanese-made" encounter, as described by Sudan’s foreign minister Ali Karti, was agreed previously by the two sides during their earlier meetings on 5-7 July before the suspension of talks for the first anniversary of South Sudan’s independence.
Salva Kiir, during the meeting, offered financial support to help Khartoum to overcome the severe economic crisis Sudan has experienced over the last year, according to different sources and confidential documents seen by Sudan Tribune.
He further proposed South Sudan mediation to end the one-year conflict in South Kordofan and Blue Nile with the rebels of Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N), which was part of South Sudan’s ruling party before the independence.
Kiir also proposed his offices to end the Darfur conflict.
In return, he asked the resumption of oil transit for exportation through the Sudanese pipeline and to organise a referendum on the future of the Abyei region.
Bashir, according to African and Sudanese sources, accepted Kiir’s initiative to meet him and asked to reach a security agreement to facilitate the resolution of the other files.
He also expressed his readiness for the oil flow and direct talks on the border issues.
During the one hour meeting, the two presidents agreed on the principles of the issues they discussed and agreed to leave the details of their deal to be worked out by the negotiating teams in the Ethiopian north western city of Bahir Dar.
Kiir, during his meeting with Bashir, proposed the provision of transitional financial assistance to Sudan and his country’s support for mobilization of debt relief to help alleviate Sudan’s budget deficit.
He, however, asked Bashir to accept a transit fee based on standard international practices. He also requested to open the border for the trade and free movement of the Sudanese and South Sudanese between the two states.
According to a confidential document seen by Sudan Tribune detailing the Strategic Framework agreed by the two parties on 7 July, the parties envision, as a possible outcome of the ongoing talks, that Sudan’s financial gap could be addressed through "a three-pronged response".
One third of the gap should be met through funds provided by South Sudan, the document of the strategic approach says. For the other two thirds, Sudan has to cover one third of the gap through economic measures and the international community should provide the remaining third.
Bashir and Kiir agreed during the meeting to accelerate the formation of an Abyei administration. More importantly, Bashir accepted the formation of a commission for an Abyei Referendum and related issues including the defining who is eligible to vote.
Both Khartoum and Juba governments are facing difficult economic situations. Khartoum has lost oil income since the South Sudan independence in July 2011, while Juba shut down oil production in January 2012.
The African mediation failed to convince Sudan to accept a map, which it proposes to use to operationalise a buffer zone, which is a key part of the security arrangements the two countries agreed to implement since November 2011.
Sources say the parties might go further in their rapprochement and reach a deal on this issue without the African Union mediation.
The African Union roadmap and the UN resolution 2046 set 2 August as the deadline for negotiations over the unresolved issues and threaten to impose economic sanctions on the two countries.