March 9, 2013 (ADDIS ABABA/JUBA) - The United States and African Union (AU) on Saturday welcomed the technical agreement signed between Sudan and South Sudan yesterday to establish a Safe Demilitarized Border Zone (SDBZ), describing it as a firm timeline for the withdrawal of forces, and a way ahead for the deployment of a joint border monitoring force.
- Sudanese Defence Minister Abdelrahim Mohamed Hussein (L) talks to his South Sudan counterpart John Kong Nyuon (R), as former South African President Thabo Mbeki (C) in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, March 8, 2013 (REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri)
The two countries, according to the African Union High Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP), also committed themselves to the deployment of the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism (JBVMM) and the activation of all security related mechanisms with effect from 10 March.
Victoria Nuland, the US Department of State spokesperson said both parties should begin the immediate implementation of all the nine Cooperation Agreements reached in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia last September.
“Each of these agreements should be implemented independently without conditions or delay,” partly reads the statement extended to Sudan Tribune.
The two countries’ leaders, last year, signed the agreement, which covered oil and citizenship rights as well as security issues, among others. Since then, implementation of the deal have stalled over Khartoum’s insistence that Juba sever all ties with Sudanese rebel groups - an allegation that is denied by South Sudan
The US government, in the statement, also commends the parties, the AUHIP and the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA), for their continued efforts to implement the AU roadmap and UN Security Council Resolution (UNSC) 2046.
In a related development, the AU Commission equally welcomed the new agreements both Sudan and South Sudan reached on Friday at the end of the extraordinary Joint Peace and Security Mechanism (JPSM) meeting in the Ethiopian capital.
The two sides, according to the modalities of the security agreement, will unconditionally withdraw all their troops from the buffer zone by March 14, with United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) tasked to monitor this region.
Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, the AU Commission Chairperson on Saturday lauded the new progress made by both countries, describing it as a step forward in efforts to a permanent resolution of all the outstanding issues between the two.
The AU chief, in a statement, also urged Khartoum and Juba to translate these steps into action “without delay”, further calling on the East African member countries to help Sudan and South Sudan resolve other remaining disputes.
The AUHIP timeline shows that the Joint Technical Border Corridor Committee, will meet and agree on further arrangements for implementation of the security agreement, during the next JSPM meeting scheduled for nest Sunday.