September 23, 2012 (JUBA) - The African Union Commission and the United Nations on Saturday said both Sudan and South Sudan needed to reach a comprehensive deal, as their leaders meet on Sunday, to resolve all outstanding post-session issues between the two.
South Sudan President, Salva Kiir and his Sudanese counterpart, Omar al Bashir are due to meet on Sunday in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa at a summit that seeks to wrap up talks on a series of outstanding matters.
Jean Ping, the AU Commission chairperson, in a statement, encouraged both presidents to take advantage of this unique opportunity to reach agreement on their shared border, disputed areas, oil transportation costs, citizenship and other issues pertaining to South Sudan’s independence last year.
The UN Security Council gave 22 September as the final deadline for the two sides to reach a comprehensive agreement and under resolution 2046 could impose sanctions on both sides should today’s meeting fail to deliver a significant outcome.
In October 2009, the African Union’s Peace and Security Council (PSC) established the AU High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP), chaired by former South African President Thabo Mbeki and including former Presidents Abdulsalami Abubakar of Nigeria and Pierre Buyoya of Burundi to mediate between Juba and Khartoum.
“This has represented an unprecedented degree of African engagement and assistance at the highest level,” Ping notes in the statement.
The AU, he said, has always recognized that the crisis affecting Sudan and South Sudan is an “African crisis”, and the continent has an obligation to assist the two states achieve a lasting solution.
Ping, however, noted that throughout its engagement, the AU, notably through the AUHIP, has maintained the view that solutions to the challenges at hand lie with the Sudanese people themselves.
The AU, in the aftermath of intense border fighting between the two countries, issued a strong communiqué and roadmap in April, in a attempt to encotage enabled the two parties to return to the negotiating table and overcome the challenges facing their relationship.
“As the deadline specified by the PSC Roadmap and endorsed by United Nations Security Council resolution 2046 (2012) approaches, the AU is fully aware that difficult decisions must be made by both sides to finalise negotiations on their post secession relations,” Ping’s statement reads in part.
The AU, its commission chairperson added, calls for a strong sense of national leadership, saying decisions made on issues of profound significance to citizens and governments are undoubtedly difficult and can involve “painful” choices.
He however said the AU, recognizing the value of long?term imperative of building two viable states and maintaining the close relationships between the peoples of Sudan and South Sudan, remains confident that the leaders will “rise to the occasion and leave a legacy of peace for generations to come.”
Meanwhile, Ban Ki-Moon, UN Secretary-General said he was encouraged by the significant narrowing of differences between the Governments of Sudan and South Sudan on a range of outstanding issues and strongly urges them to conclude a comprehensive deal during the Presidential summit in Addis Ababa on 23 September.
Ki-Moon, in a statement issued on the eve of today’s summit, also congratulated the negotiating teams of the two parties for what they have achieved so far, but urged presidents of the two countries to take responsibility for the resolution of their remaining differences, so that their summit concludes with a success.
The commitment, he said, will “mark an end to the era of conflict and ushers in a new era of peace, cooperation and mutual development for the two countries and their people.”
The UN Secretary General also the AUHIP for its continued able leadership in facilitating and mediating the talks between the two parties, and thanked the special envoy for his support to that effort.