January 20, 2014 (KHARTOUM/JUBA) – The Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir will attend the extraordinary meeting of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) countries in Juba on Thursday to discuss the ongoing conflict in South Sudan.
- SPLA soldiers drive in a truck in Juba December 21, 2013 (REUTERS/Stringer)
Sudan’s presidential media secretary Emad Sid Ahmed, confirmed in press statements on Monday Bashir’s participation in the summit, saying the meeting is a continuation of the previous summit which discussed ways for containing the current crisis in South Sudan and paved the way for the direct negotiations.
Clashes erupted in Juba mid-December following a dispute among the presidential guard, rapidly spreading to the country’s states of Jonglei, Upper Nile and Unity. Over 1,000 people, according to the United Nations, have died and nearly 200,000 displaced since fighting started.
But while South Sudan President Salva Kiir accused his former deputy Riek Machar over the incident as part of a coup attempt, the latter denies, alleging it was a move by his former boss to silence critics with the SPLM.
Ahmed didn’t rule out the possibility of holding a bilateral meeting between Bashir and South Sudan’s president, Salva Kiir Mayardit, on the sidelines of the emergency summit.
SUDAN AGAINST ‘FOREIGN INTERVENTION’
The Sudanese foreign minister, Ali Karti, said on Monday the IGAD meeting would look into ways for pushing forward the ongoing negotiations which is taking place in Addis Ababa besides discussing the security situation and foreign interventions following the Ugandan army’s recognition of involvement in the fighting.
Uganda has publicly announced that its troops are fighting alongside SPLA against rebel forces led by Riek Machar.
The Ugandan president, Yoweri Museveni, on Friday told his army council that he deployed troops in South Sudan to save the neighboring country from collapse.
The spokesperson of the Uganda People’s Defence Force, Paddy Ankunda, was the first to announce the capture of Bor on Saturday when he wrote on Twitter "UPDF has captured the town of Bor in S. Sudan. Big relief to trapped Ugandan, international community".
The Ugandan intervention has raised concerns of South Sudan’s neighboring countries including Ethiopia who expressed fear of dragging other countries into the conflict.
Karti, told reports following his meeting with Bashir on Monday, that he briefed the president on the ongoing arrangements for the summit, saying the meeting would offer an opportunity to discuss foreign interventions in South Sudan.
“Sudan is concerned about the security and stability in South Sudan more than any other country due to political, economic, and security reasons,” he added
He pointed to Sudan’s positive and clear stance towards achieving peace and stability in South Sudan, stressing that they refuse foreign interventions in the country.
SOUTH SUDAN ASSERT RIGHT TO CALL FOREIGN TROOPS
But South Sudanese government on Monday denied discussing with Khartoum the issue of the deployment of troops from neighboring Uganda, asserting it is a sovereign state.
“We have not received any official complaint about deployment of Uganda troops from the government of Sudan. The deployment of Uganda troops was based on the memorandum of understanding between the two sovereign states. We do not have to consult any country on the deployment of any forces”, a top government official told Sudan Tribune Monday.
The official, who did not want to be named, however, admitted that IGAD had recommended in the draft ceasefire withdrawal of the foreign forces in the country.
“Sudan is one of the IGAD member states which have recommended withdrawal of the foreign forces in the country in the draft ceasefire which we are still studying. It has not complained to us an individual state”, another diplomat at the South Sudanese ministry of foreign affairs and international cooperation said in a separate interview with Sudan Tribune on Monday.
Deputy foreign affairs and international cooperation Minister, Peter Bashir Gbandi, also affirmed that his country had not received official compliant from government of Sudan.
“South Sudan is a sovereign state and has a right to deal with any country”, Gbandi told Sudan Tribune Monday, saying they have not received any compliant from Sudan