August 27, 2013 (KHARTOUM) – The visit by South Sudan’s president Silva Kiir to Khartoum will likely be postponed despite an announcement earlier this month that he will visit sometime this week.
- FILE - Sudan’s President Omer Hassan al-Bashir (L) and his South Sudan counterpart Salva Kiir (R) listen to their national anthems upon his arrival at the Juba Airport in South Sudan April 12, 2013. (REUTERS/Andreea Campeanu)
A senior diplomatic source told Sudan Tribune on Tuesday that Khartoum has yet to receive a notice from Juba confirming the arrival of Kiir for today or tomorrow.
Kiir’s schedule for this week also includes a pre-planned state visit to India.
The head of the parliamentary subcommittee on Foreign Affairs, Security, and Defense, Mohamed Al-Hassan al-Amin, attributed the delay to the recent political developments in South Sudan, confirming lack of communication by Juba on the timing of the visit.
Al-Amin said that Sudan welcomes the visit in spite of recent "negative developments" in relations due to lingering issues regarding security arrangements and future of the disputed Abyei region.
He also disclosed that Khartoum informed the European Union (EU) envoy to Sudan of its rejection to holding a unilateral referendum in Abyei which does not involve the Arab Misseriya tribe.
The Sudanese government also urged the EU to press Juba to halt the move.
A referendum initially scheduled for January 2011 to decide the fate of the Abyei border area failed to take place over disagreements between Khartoum and Juba about who is eligible to participate in the vote.
Last year, the AU mediation team proposed holding a referendum in Abyei this October, but stated that only those residing permanently in the area will be allowed to vote in the plebiscite and decide whether they want to join Sudan or South Sudan.
This proposal would effectively make the majority of voters come from the Dinka Ngok tribe, aligned with South Sudan thus putting the Arab Misseriya nomads, who spend several months in Abyei every year for grazing, at a disadvantage.
Earlier this month, Kiir called on Dinka Ngok tribesmen to return home and prepare themselves for the referendum.
Observers however, see little chance that a vote could be held at such a short notice and without regional or international backing.
The African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) is expected to take up the issue next month.
In a related issue al-Amin stressed the ability of the Sudanese army to protect the borders and resolve the conflict on Jawdat Al-Fukhar area on the borders with South Sudan, pointing that improvement of relations is conditional upon the implementation of the cooperation agreements signed between the two countries last year.