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North, South Sudan to restart post-split negotiations in Ethiopia

By Tesfa-Alem Tekle

July 23, 2011 (ADDIS ABABA) - Representatives from the governments of North and South Sudan are due to meet next week in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa to restart negotiations on their future relations.

This will be their first meeting for North and South Sudan after the latter officially became an independent state on July 9.

Earlier this month, leaders of north and south Sudan agreed to postpone talks on a number of unresolved issues until South Sudan officially splits.

Sources in the Ethiopian capital told Sudan Tribune that delegations from both sides are due to arrive Addis Ababa early next week to resume negotiations on other pending issues remaining under the implementation of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), which ended one of Africa’s longest civil war.

The post-split talks are mediated by former South African President Thabo Mbeki, the head of the African Union’s High Level Panel on Sudan.

The meetings to be held behind closed doors are aimed at paving arrangements on outstanding issues such as citizenship, border demarcation, currency and oil-revenue sharing among others.

It is not known if the two sides will also intend to discuss on the contested oil producing region of Abyei. A flash point which has recently become a source of conflict between the two sides drawing fears of a return to North-South Sudan civil war.

South Sudan officially become an independent state on 9 July 2011 after the plebiscite resulted in a landslide vote in favour of South Sudan secession from the North.

However, there are still other sensitive and worrying issues such as on the fate of Abyei, which both sides need to settle peacefully.

Mandated by UN, Ethiopia has began deployment of 4,200 peacekeeping forces to Abyei after leaders from North and South Sudan signed an African Union sponsored agreement in Addis Ababa to fully demilitarise the central region and allow an Ethiopian peacekeeping force to move in to monitor Abyei.

Ethiopian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Ambassador Dina Mufti on Friday told Sudan Tribune that the Ethiopian peace force - the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) - will officially begin peacekeeping operations in Abyei as of next week.

(ST)