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Amum says Sudanese delegation escaped signing new deal

April 5, 2012 (JUBA) — South Sudan’s chief negotiator with Sudan on post-independence issues on Thursday accused Khartoum of showing a clear lack of interest in reaching a lasting solution over number of contentious issues which the two sides have been unable to resolve.

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Pgan Amum (Reuters)

"It has always been very clear from the time we started negotiations. We have never changed our position on peaceful dialogue. Because we have always wanted to see that South Sudan and Sudan emerge as two viable states in pursuit of mutual interest," said Pagan Amum.

The top South Sudanese negotiator and former minister for peace and implementation of the agreement that led to South Sudan’s independence made the remark at a news briefing on Thursday, hours after returning to Juba from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia after the recent round of talks proved on security issues proved fruitless.

Amum said South Sudan’s delegation was ready to sign an agreement covering six issues including the immediate need for two sides to reduce tension and resume discussions with open minds but the Sudanese delegation disappeared when the two sides were about to sign the new deal.

“I am happy to inform you that on our side, we were ready (to sign). Our minister of defense was ready to sign the (security) agreement but the Sudanese delegation while we were still discussing the paper presented by the facilitators, sneaked out of the hotel where they were accommodated and returned to Khartoum without signing the agreement."

Sudan’s defence minister Abdel-Rahim Hussein told reporters on Wednesday at Khartoum airport that his delegation declined to ink the proposed deal requesting more time for consultations with Khartoum because the South Sudan does not admit its support to the Sudanese rebel groups.

Abdel-Rahim added that this acknowledgement is necessary for the confidence building between the two sides and important for a viable security agreement. Referring to the deal they signed with Chad, he stressed that joint patrols are crucial to ending the rebel presence on the common border.

Amum said that Sudanese delegation’s departure coincided with a resumption of bombing of strategic areas in South Sudanese territory by the Sudan Air Force.
South Sudan later claimed that their army - the SPLA - shot down a Sudanese MIG 29 jet fighter over Unity State but this has been denied by Khartoum.

Amum further called on Sudan to stop bombing his country and join them to achieve peace because it is in the interest of the citizens from the two states.

"Our president, Salva Kiir Mayardit, gave us go ahead to sign peace on the cessation of hostilities”, he said dismissing the allegation that South Sudan assists Sudanese rebels.

"We have said time and again that the current civil war in Sudan is purely an internal matter," he said, adding that it is a political conflict and not a military issue, requiring a negotiated settlement.

"South Sudan as [a] neighbour encourages the two parties to reach a peaceful settlement," he underscored.

Amum was alluding to the conflict between the Sudanese army and a coalition of rebel groups called Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) including their former comrades of the SPLM-N and three Darfur rebel groups.

SRF rebels refuse to discuss issues related to their regions and say they are resolved to topple the current regime before establishing a democratic regime ensuring freedoms and equal rights to all Sudanese citizens.

Amum explained that the agreement which the two parties were to sign recommended:

  • Withdrawal of SAF troops from Hofra El Nahas, Kefia Kengi, Abyei, Heglig (Panthou) and Meganes.
  • Immediate implementation of all previous Joint Political and Security Mechanisms (JSPM) agreements, specifically the 10 February 2012 Memorandum of Understanding on non-aggression and cooperation. The JSPM recognises and affirms support to the 14 December 2011 resolution of the UN Security Council which gives the UN Mission for Abyei (UNISFA) and the Joint Border Verification and Monitor Mechanism (JBVMM) the mandate to undertake all required tasks in accordance with the 18 September 2011 decision of the JPSM and the five documents.
  • Immediate cessation of official and private negative media propaganda, without severely affecting press freedom but encouraging media reports in a way that maintains the momentum of a positive spirit of cooperation between the two states.
  • Immediate cessation of hostilities between the two states by encouraging defence ministers, co-chairs of JPSM, to declare a cessation of hostilities with immediate effect.
  • An agreement to be put in place verifying mechanisms to ensure that the measures agreed by the two parties are implemented in accordance with 10 February Memorandum of understanding on non-aggression and cooperation.
  • Preparations to be made for the summit between the two heads of state and for the JPSM to ensure the Joint Preparatory Committee for the Summit meets immediately to finalise the agenda on time.

(ST)