January 28, 2013 (KHARTOUM) - Sudanese officials ruled out the possibility that outstanding issues with Juba following the independence of South Sudan should be referred to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and accused foreign powers of pushing the latter to pursue this option.
Speaking to the press following the return of president Omer Al-Bashir to Khartoum from Addis Ababa on Monday, Sudan’s chief negotiator Idris Abdel-Gadir ruled out the referral of disputed issues to the UNSC even after the end of next July.
He instead predicted an extension to the mandate of the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) on Sudan and South Sudan after the end of the current term.
In a meeting held at the level of heads of states and governments on 25 January, the African Union Peace and security Council (AUPSC) declined to meet demands by South Sudanese president Salva Kiir to refer the disputes with Khartoum to the UNSC as it was already previously considered.
The meeting further decided to extend the mandate of the AUHIP until 31 July 2013 and asked it to submit a final report "on all matters within its purview since its establishment in October 2009".
The Sudanese state minister has reiterated his government’s commitment to hold a referendum in the Abyei area in line with a protocol agreed with former South Sudanese rebels in 2005.
He said his government is willing to consider other options, if the South Sudanese government seeks another solution over Abyei, adding that the mediation team speaks about the need to think about other options instead of the referendum.
The two sides failed make progress on the issue of Abyei since the signing of the peace agreement. Recently, a disagreement over the representation of the two sides at the legislative council blocked efforts to establish the local administration.
On the final status of Abyei and the referendum, the talks also stalled over the participation of the Misseriya nomads in the vote.
Speaking about the disputed areas, Abdel-Gadir said Sudan refuses the partial withdrawal of the South Sudanese troops from the “Mile 14” area, stressing any military presence will hamper the movement of pastoralists.
He also accused Juba of seeking to transfer the disputed issues to the security council.
In a similar move, the spokesperson for the foreign affairs ministry, Al-Obeid Marawih, on Monday said that the South Sudanese government seeks to refer the outstanding issues to the UNSC in accordance with a US-backed strategy.
The Sudanese diplomat praised the decision of the African leaders, saying Khartoum’s keenness to establish good neighbourly relations with Juba convinced them not to refer the issues to the UNSC.
He also stressed that Sudan’s position is based on the ability of Africans to settle their complicated conflicts that are difficult to resolve in the framework of international standards.
Marawih further said the two countries are requested to strengthen their political will to find common solutions in the long run.
He further explained that slow implementation of the signed deals is caused by Juba’s continued hesitation and international interferences.
The two sides have previously accused each other of obstructing or violating the enforcement of the signed agreement, which has been subject to different interpretations.
The leaders of the two countries committed themselves before four African leaders to work together to implement the cooperation agreement they signed on 27 September, aiming to end the ongoing dispute and to establish good relations between the two nations.