March 22, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – Sudan and south Sudan have agreed to speed up the implementation of security arrangements and to determine the line zero related to the establishment of a buffer zone between the two countries, a Sudanese official said on Saturday .
- South Sudan’s defence minister, Kuol Manyang Juuk, is welcomed by Sudan’s state defence minister, Yahya Mohamed Khair, at Khartoum airport on 18 March 2014 (SUNA)
The joint security committee rapporteur, Al-Moiz Farouq, told official news agency SUNA that the recent visit to Khartoum by the South Sudanese defence minister, Kuol Manyang Juuk, aimed to operationalise the security mechanisms agreed by the two countries since 27 September 2012.
According to Farouq, the mechanisms include the identification of line zero, and the determination of safe demilitarised border zone. The two parties also committed themselves to reactivate of the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism (JBVMM) and to resume the meetings of the joint security committee.
Juba decided to suspend JBVMM operations on 22 November 2013 and to withdraw its monitors until the resolution of the dispute over the buffer zone centreline.
“During a joint planning workshop held in Juba from 13 to 15 November 2013, the Government of South Sudan expressed concerns regarding the link between border crossing corridors and the determination of the border zone centreline coordinates, which in its view implied that the centreline would be considered as the border between the two countries,” said a report by UN chief UN Ban Ki-Moon to the UN Security Council (UNSC) on 25 February.
The report disclosed that on 28 January Sudan deployed 34 monitors, while South Sudan deployed 33 monitors with 25 from UNISFA to the JBVMM in Kadugli. Two monitors from South Sudan and two from the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) were also deployed in Gok Machar in South Sudan’s Northern Bahr el Ghazal state.
The deployment took place in line with an agreement reached by the joint security committee in a meeting held in Khartoum from 26-27 November 2013
The Sudanese rapporteur said the two ministers also reaffirmed their commitment to implement a deal signed on 20 June 2011, aiming to establish a temporary administration, a legislative council and a joint force in the Abyei region.
Farouq said the meeting was convened to prevent any military presence in the disputed area, as per a statement from the UNSC on 17 March, which demanded both countries withdraw their troops and ensure Abyei remains a weapons free area.
According to Ban’s report to the UNSC, more than 600 South Sudanese soldiers and policemen remain in Abyei, while Sudan maintains a force of over 100 oil police at the Difra oilfields.
During his two-day visit to Khartoum Juuk met with Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir and handed him a letter from his South Sudanese counterpart, Salva Kiir, over the implementation of security arrangements agreed as part of the deal, which also includes demands to end support to rebel groups and prevent cross-border attacks.