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African panel investigating rebel support claims arrive in Sudan

August 17, 2013 (KHARTOUM) – The Ad Hoc Investigative Mechanism (AIM), which was set up by the African Union (AU) and the East African regional bloc, Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to probe accusations traded by Sudan and South Sudan of support to rebel groups has arrived on Saturday in Khartoum in a two-day mission.

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(From L-R) Maj-Gen (Retired) Julius Olakunle Sunday Oshanupin, minister of foreign affairs Tedros Adhanom and AU commissioner for peace and security Ramtane Lamamra at the 22 July launch of an investigation into accusations of rebel support and to determine a border centreline (Photo: AU)

Last June, the head of African Union High Implementation Panel (AUHIP), Thabo Mbeki put forward proposals for solving the problems facing the implementation of cooperation agreements signed last year between the two countries.

Khartoum says the rebel groups of Darfur, Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains are harbored and supported by the South Sudanese government. In return, Juba points out that the ongoing rebellion led by David Yau Yau in Jonglei is backed by the Sudanese authorities.

The AUHIP decided to assign the African Union Commission (AUC) and the head of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to take the necessary steps to verify claims of support and harboring of rebels.

Mbeki’s panel demanded that both sides work together to renounce and end any support to armed rebellion in the other country and urged them to fully and sincerely implement the security agreement signed in September 2012.

The Sudanese army spokesperson, Col. Al-Sawarmi Khalid Saad, told the official news agency (SUNA) that Sudan is absolutely committed to cooperate with the AIM.

“We hope that the AIM manages to achieve its objectives in order to stop support and harboring for rebel groups”, he said.

Col. Sa’ad added that the AIM could help create the conditions for resuming the implementation of all the cooperation agreements.

Tensions between the countries have escalated last June when Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir ordered the closure of pipelines carrying oil from landlocked South Sudan.

Sudan also announced that it will put on hold cooperation agreements signed with South Sudan on a wide range of issues that included citizenship rights, security issues, banking and border trade.

Last March the two sides also agreed on the implementation schedule for these accords.