August 12, 2012 (KHARTOUM) – Thabo Mbeki, head of the African Union (AU) panel mediating talks between Sudan and South Sudan, is preparing a draft comprehensive agreement on all outstanding issues between the two neighbor as well as another one for Khartoum and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N), sources told Sudan Tribune on Sunday.
- File Photo - AU mediator Thabo Mbeki (AP)
The sources said that Mbeki whose AU High Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) managed to pull off a last minute deal on oil transit fees between Khartoum and Juba on 10 August will propose his draft agreements to the negotiating delegations in the next round which is due to start in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa following Eid holiday.
The oil deal, which will see Juba paying Khartoum an average of 10 US dollars per barrel plus 3.28 billion US dollars in financial assistance over a three year period, was highly welcomed by the international community despite the fact that the two countries failed to meet the deadline set by the UN Security Council (UNSC) for concluding the talks on other issues as well including border security, the status of Abyei region and citizenship.
Sudan insists that the next round decides the border security issue on the basis of its demands that South Sudan ceases its alleged support to Darfur rebel groups and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N) which is fighting Khartoum in the border regions of South Kordofan and Blue Nile.
According to the sources, Mbeki’s new proposals aim to narrow differences over the issues of border demarcation, security arrangements and Abyei. They added that Mbeki is seeking to achieve a breakthrough in those issues before the UN secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon presents his report on the negotiations to the UNSC on 2 September.
In light of Moon’s report, the UNSC will decide on a strategy to deal with Khartoum and Juba after they failed to meet the deadline set under the council’s 2046 resolution which threatens non-military sanctions against the two countries if they failed to meet the deadline.
Meanwhile, an official from South Sudan, Luka Biong, said in a press release issued Sunday that a presidential summit between Sudan’s Omer Al-Bashir and South Sudan’s Salva Kiir Mayardit will be held on 22 September to discuss outstanding issues. According to Biong, Mbeki will present during the summit a proposal for resolving the dispute over Abyei if the two sides don’t reach an agreement before the summit’s date.
Sudan Tribune’s sources also said that Mbeki is going to propose another agreement dealing with the security and political issues between the Sudanese government and the SPLM-N. The sources added that Mbeki’s proposal is likely to be based on the Addis Ababa deal signed between the two sides in June last year before it was disavowed by President Omer Al-Bashir.
The sources indicated that there is a growing international pressure on Khartoum and the SPLM-N to reach an agreement simultaneously with South Sudan.
The talks between Khartoum and SPLM-N, which was also stipulated in the UNSC resolution, managed only to reach an agreement on providing humanitarian assistance to the affected population in Blue Nile and South Kordofan whereas the political and security tracks remain without progress.
Kamal Obied, head of the government’s delegation to the talks with SPLM-N, say they rejected the rebels’ proposals on account of their attempts to include issues that are not related to the situation in the two states.