October 18, 2012 (JUBA) - South Sudan President Salva Kiir, on Wednesday held a high-level meeting with elders and leaders from Northern Bahr el Ghazal state after large crowd staged a procession on Monday, protesting against the inclusion of the 14 mile area in the Safe Demilitarized Border Zone.
- Protestors outside the parliament in Juba, October 15, 2012 (Reuters)
After a series of talks held in Addis Ababa, Juba and Khartoum reached a set of agreements in a bid to settle various issues which saw the two states at loggerheads on 27 September. One of these agreements was the establishment of the SDBZ.
Kiir assured over fifty members, most of whom were former and current senior government officials, that his government had not intention to give away the area but that the agreement was a “temporary security arrangement" to pave a way forward over disputes.
Some residents of the border regions, namely those of Northern Bahr el Ghazal, Unity and Abyei saw the agreement as a gifting of their land to Sudan and took to the streets on Monday. The Juba government has been keen to point out that the SDBZ is a temporary measure to allow international monitors to assess the area freely.
The national parliament on Tuesday ratified the contentious deal despite with 189 votes in favour and 15 against.
"There is no need to resort to violence. I believe we must not encourage that. We are fully aware that the area is your land. There is doubt that and this is what I have been saying. I am told the Reizigat [ethnic group] themselves have stated that concerns over the area should be addressed through tribal mechanisms,” Kiir told the meeting on Wednesday.
South Sudan announced on 5 October that a committee would be formed to educate government officials and the civil population on the agreements reached with Khartoum.