September 27, 2012 (KHARTOUM) – South Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayardit and his Sudanese counterpart Omer Al-Bashir have officially signed a host of agreements on border security, economic and citizenship issues inter alia but they confirmed that a deal could not be reached on contested border regions mainly Abyei.
- Bashir (R) and his South Sudanese counterpart Kiir (2ndL) meet at the Sheraton Hotel in Addis Ababa/AFP
Kiir and Al-Bashir signed the agreements to a cheering crowd of their delegations on Thursday afternoon in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, which has been hosting their marathon summit since Sunday, 23 September; one day after the two countries missed a UN deadline for the conclusion of the talks.
Addressing the signing ceremony, African Union official Barney Afako said that the agreements signed ensure that the two countries "will thrive and become two viable states."
The deals signed include a border security agreement, which was signed by the Sudanese Defence Minister Abdel Rahim Mohammed Hussein and his counterpart John Kong Nyuon. The agreement stipulates the establishment of a demilitarized buffer zone along the along the unmarked 1,800-km common border.
Among the series of deals is an agreement to grant citizens of each country the freedom of movement, ownership, work and residence in the other country. The two countries also signed an agreement they reached in August to resume exporting South Sudan oil via Sudan.
The two presidents praised the agreements, with Kiir describing the signing as “a great day in history of the region” and Al-Bashir affirming Sudan’s commitment to what has been signed. Al-Bashir also described Kiir as “a partner in peace” and praised his patience and wisdom.
It has been confirmed, however, that the two parties failed to break the deadlock over contested border regions especially oil-producing Abyei.
Kiir said that South Sudan agreed to the proposal of AU mediators for holding a referendum in the oil-producing region but Khartoum rejected the proposal in its totality. The South Sudanese president said that borders must be sorted out.