January 26, 2013 (KHARTOUM) - Presidents Omer Al-Bashir and Salva Kiir failed to achieve tangible progress in stalled talks between Khartoum and Juba over Abyei, and disputed areas, as well as oil exportation.
- President Omer Al-Bashir receives his South Sudanese counterpart Salva Kiir after his arrival in Khartoum in October 2011 (AFP)
The meeting, which took place before a meeting of the African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC), was initially planned to discuss the final status of Abyei, with both parties agreeing to activate the buffer zone and form Abyei institutions in a previous meeting.
With the failure of both sides to implement the agreements, the two leaders repeated their positions in a meeting attended by the chief mediator before heading to the AUPSC summit, where African leaders are expected to press for a resolution of ongoing disputes between the two countries.
Speaking at the AUPSC meeting, Kiir called on the presidential gathering to decide on a binding framework to end ongoing conflicts between the two neighbours, stressing that endless discussions with Khartoum would not yield any result.
“If there is to be progress, the cycle of negotiation cannot continue indefinitely. We must shift from rhetoric to action,” he told the high-level security meeting, which is tasked with deciding whether to refer the disputed issues to the UN Security Council (UNSC).
“We have exhausted the issue of Abyei for seven years. This issue does not require further negotiation, but rather swift adoption and implementation of the [African Union High-Level Implementation Panel] proposal,” he further stressed.
Since the signing of the 27 September Cooperation Agreement, the two parties have failed to operationalise the demilitarised zone, due to ongoing disagreements about Sudanese rebels and the disputed “Mile 14” area.
Sudan says South Sudan proposes to withdraw its troops from just 120kms of the 200km “Mile 14” area, which is located between East Darfur and Northern Bahr el-Ghazal states.
Sudanese foreign minister Ali Karti told the Sudan News Agency (SUNA) that South Sudan does not intend to recognise the remaining 80kms as a disputed zone because they plan to maintain their troops there.
“It was clear for the African mediation (team) that the South Sudanese position is a new development,” he added.
The minister further said the meeting between the two leaders did not discuss the final status of Abyei because the parties had not yet implemented the signed agreements, alluding to the formation of the Abyei legislative council, on which both parties continue to diverge over the percentage of seats allocated to each side.
He also accused “some people from Abyei area” of aiming to hamper the implementation of other agreements by focusing only on the Abyei issue.
Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, the chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC), told the AUPSC meeting on Friday 25 January that the “situation in Sudan and South Sudan poses a particular set of challenges to Africa” on issues related to diversity in a united continent and neighbourliness and mutual viability.
She further underlined that the implementation of the signed agreement remains a source of “great concern” and called on the AUPSC to call for the implementation of the bilateral deals.
“It is my hope that this council will call on the two states to urgently and unconditionally implement all aspects of the agreements which were mutually acceptable compromises on both sides."
On Sunday the African leaders will start their annual ordinary meeting which will seemingly be dominated by the recent developments in Mali, as well as other issues of Somalia and Sudan-South Sudan relations.
No details are yet available on whether a resolution on the outstanding issues will be announced Sunday or not.