July 30, 2012 (KHARTOUM/JUBA) - Sudan’s President Omer al-Bashir declined to meet his South Sudanese counterpart Salva Kiir in a last chance summit to overcome divergences over outstanding issues before the 2 August deadline.
- Omer al-Bashir (Right) speaks in Juba, with Salva Kiir (Left), during the 2nd anniversary celebration of the signing of the 2005 peace agreement, Jan 9, 2007. (AP)
The long time announced second summit was considered by the mediation to narrow the gaps between the two parties over oil and security issues. But the divergences between the two parties remained deep on key issues.
On oil transportation fees, Khartoum demands $32 per barrel as Juba offers an average of $8.18 per barrel, $9.16 and $7.2. for each pipeline. On the security arrangements Khartoum’s position is more against the mediation than Juba, because the former was not seen as neutral after considering a "Sudanese" area as a disputed area.
Sudan’s foreign ministry spokesperson, el-Obeid Morawah, released on Monday evening a statement saying that Bashir turned down an invitation by the chief of the African Union mediation, Thabo Mbeki, to meet President Salva Kiir on Tuesday "due to previous engagements".
Bashir is scheduled to travel to Doha on Tuesday for a meeting with the Emir of Qatar Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani,.
"The government prefers to hold such a summit after good preparation and arrangements as it should not be intended to enter into details of the negotiations but to resolve certain issues so that (the summit) impacts positively the situation between the two countries", Morawah further said.
In April the two countries were on the verge of an all out war when the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) ordered Juba to withdraw its troops from Heglig and on 2 May endorsed an African Union (AU) road map to settle the disputed issues within three months.
Since, the two countries committed themselves to the UNSC resolution 2046 which threatens to impose sanctions on the two countries under Article 41 of the United Nations Charter if they fail to agree on a comprehensive agreement before the 2 August.
During the weekend, Paris and Washington warned that the UNSC would take the appropriate measures against the two countries if they fail to meet the requirements of the resolution.
In Khartoum it is believed that Bashir’s decision to not attend the presidential summit was triggered by Kiir’s statements on the martyr day on Monday where he accused Khartoum of seeking to collapse South Sudan and urged the UNSC to impose sanction on the "intransigent party".
Speaking in Arabic, Kiir told the crowd gathering at the mausoleum of late John Garang in Juba, that the mediator few days ago asked him to come to Juba to sign an agreement with Bashir.
"My answer was what agreement that we must sign?" he said, adding that Khartoum still rejects the South Sudanese offer and demands $36 for every barrel transported through its pipelines.
The South Sudanese president pointed out that his delegation refused Khartoum’s demand, accusing Sudan of intending to loot the oil of his country despite the financial package offered to cover the debt in Sudan’s budget.
Sudan, during the recent sessions of talks in Addis Ababa, proposed $32 per barrel and asked to be paid in oil crude. But the South Sudan refused this demand.
The foreign ministry spokesperson in Khartoum said that the negotiating teams are still meeting despite their failure to conclude an agreement. He also said that talks over border demarcation will start on Tuesday.
He added that they expect that the talks over the border demarcation and disputed areas would need more time due the complicated character of this file, which was referred to an AU committee of experts.
The panel is expected to meet the two parties to hear their points of view.
The gloomy atmosphere in Addis Ababa did not prevent the former South African president and chief mediator Mbeki and South Sudan’s top negotiator Pagan Amum from expecting a last minute breakthrough.
Speaking in a reception on the occasion of the martyr day organised by the South Sudanese delegation, Mbeki said the distance that separates the two parties from reaching an agreement "is not so far".
He said that only political will can bridge the gaps between the two sides. He further stressed that achieving peace between the two sides is the real tribute that can be paid to John Garang.
Mbeki was alluding to the thoughts of the founder of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), the late John Garang, who preached for the unity of Sudan and the coexistence of its people on new bases.
From his side, following the reception, Pagan expressed hopes to sign a comprehensive agreement over all the unresolved issues before the 2 August without elaborating on a meeting held on Monday evening between the two parties without the mediation.
In Khartoum, the deputy speaker of the National Assembly, Hajo Elsayed, told reporters that the way out of the economic crisis in the two countries is to reach an agreement over security and oil issues.
He called on the negotiating teams in Addis Ababa, to take into account the interests of the people of both countries and make concessions. He emphasised that resolving the security and oil issues would lead to improvements in the economies of both countries.