October 22, 2013 (JUBA/KHARTOUM) – The presidents of Sudan and South Sudan on Tuesday agreed to expedite the identification of the zero line to create the Safe Demilitarized Border Zone (SDBZ), as per the security arrangement within the September 2012 Cooperation Agreements.
- Sudan’s President Omer Al-Bashir (R) shakes hands with his host, South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir, at Juba Airport October 22, 2013 (Photo Adriane Ohanesian/Reuters)
A joint communiqué issued at the end of the meeting between South Sudan’s Salva Kiir and his Sudanese counterpart, Omer Hassan Al-Bashir said the two leaders agreed on creation of the SDBZ before mid-November.
Both countries, as per the security arrangements, are required to withdraw all their troops from a 10-mile wide safe demilitarized zone, along their borders to be patrolled by international forces.
Bashir and Kiir, on the invitation of the latter, held a closed-door meeting in the South Sudan capital, Juba. The two head of states reportedly had “frank, cordial and fruitful” discussions, which covered various aspects of nine cooperation agreements.
The Sudanese foreign minister, Ali Karti said Bashir’s visit mainly aimed at underscoring what was agreed upon by the two countries, especially the issue of the zero border line that paves way for establishing the secure and demilitarized area.
Karti, while speaking to reporters in Khartoum on Tuesday, said the most important issue the two sides agreed on was determining November as the date for reaching the agreement on the zero line for the SDBZ.
Also agreed upon, according to the joint communiqué, was for both countries to cease support and habouring rebel movements in each other territories, which has been the major cause of past skirmishes between them.
“The agreement has removed much suspicion and security concerns, especially with regard to refrain from support and harbouring to rebellion”, Kati told reporters upon return from Juba.
The great cooperation shown by South Sudan has helped much in achieving tangible positive steps, he stressed.
The two Sudans, the communiqué noted, also agreed to expedite procedures for opening border crossings between the two countries once the zero line has been identified and expressed satisfaction over progress made with regard to the oil flow and export.
Although the issue of Abyei region was anticipated to dominate presidential summit, not much was discussed by the two leaders on the fate of the disputed oil-producing region.
During the Juba meeting, Kiir and Bashir reportedly agreed “to expedite the establishment of Abyei Administration, Council and Police organs, and reaffirm that the 2% share of Abyei Areas in oil revenues, including arrears, will be paid to the Abyei Administration”.
The Sudanese foreign minister, however, said some circles tried to create “uncertainty” on Abyei issue to overshadow other important topics in the relations between the two Sudans during their Juba visit.
Edmund Yakani, a South Sudanese activist said the presidential summit failed to meet African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) expectations on deriving concrete solutions for resolving the final status of Abyei region.
"Abyei referendum can not be compromised with interest on oil flow or reduction of security pressure on khartoum by the rebels", Yakani told Sudan Tribune Tuesday.
KI-MOON WELCOMES MEETING
The United Nations Secretary-General welcomed the outcomes of the two leaders’ summit, especially their intention to expedite the establishment of the Abyei administration, Abyei council and Abyei police service.
Ban Ki Moon, in a statement extended to Sudan Tribune, also welcomed the two leaders’ decision to accelerate the full establishment of the SDBZ by mid-November.
He however calls on both countries to urgently resume their consultations on the implementation of the 2012 African Union High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) proposal to determine the final status of Abyei, while calling of its community leaders to refrain from any unilateral initiatives likely to increase tensions in the area.
Resolving the final status of Abyei still remains a major issue between Sudan and South Sudan after the latter broke away from the former in July 2011, leaving several unresolved post-secession issues.