January 7, 2013 (JUBA) – The leadership of South Sudan has asked the British government to provide maps that will indicate some of the colonial borderlines between South Sudan and Sudan, revealed the Vice President, Riek Machar, upon his return from the United Kingdom on Monday.
- South Sudan’s vice-president Riek Machar (Reuters)
Machar told the press at Juba International Airport shortly after his arrival that while in England during the Christmas and New Year holidays he met with a number of British officials including the Foreign Secretary, William Hague, and the former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, who visited South Sudan recently.
He and the British Foreign Secretary discussed the need to trace and avail a number of missing colonial maps, particularly those which define the borders between The Nuba Mountains (South Kordofan State) of Sudan and Upper Nile and Bahr el Ghazal regions of South Sudan.
South Sudan and Sudan are at loggerheads over what constitutes the borderline between the two countries which were one but split 18 months ago and formed separate independent nations following a referendum exercise on self-determination by the people of South Sudan that led to an overwhelming vote for secession from the former Sudan.
The British government colonised the regions of the former Sudan and defined their administrative and tribal borders before it granted it independence on January 1, 1956.
Machar said if such missing maps are availed they would help in resolving the border conflicts involving the neighbouring Nuba Mountains and South Sudan.
Such contested areas between Nuba Mountains and South Sudan include Heglig/Panthou which was the scene of fierce battles between the two countries in April last year. They can also help in locating the settlements of South Sudanese tribes such as the Ngok Dinka and their boundaries with the communities of the Nuba Mountains.
The Vice President’s Press Secretary James Gatdet Dak also told Sudan Tribune that Machar discussed a wide range of bilateral issues between London and Juba. They also discussed the need for the British government to use its influence and assure the implementation of the cooperation agreements between Khartoum and Juba.
Machar also met with the former Prime Minister, Tony Blair, where the two leaders stressed the importance of mobilizing British investors to invest in major projects in South Sudan, in which Blair said he would personally help in mobilizing investors from his country into South Sudan.
Blair will also support the initiative by South Sudan to launch a national reconciliation and healing in April this year during which he will be among the key speakers on reconciliation as well as good governance in the country.