Presidents Salva Kiir and Omar Al Bashir at a past meeting in Ethiopia [PHOTO: AFP | File]
By Teddy Chenya
JUBA, 26 October 2012 [Gurtong] - This follows the meeting of the African Union Peace and Security Council late on Wednesday where the outstanding issues between Sudan and South Sudan were discussed.
Sudan and South Sudan have been told to reach an agreement on how they will proceed with negotiations on the five disputed border areas within two weeks.
The ultimatum comes a month after South Sudan president asked the African Union (AU) Commission to mediate on areas of dispute that remain unresolved between them during the signing of a peace deal in Ethiopia.
It was with this initiative that the AU is trying to narrow the two sides with their dispute over the Abyei region, which is currently being monitored by Ethiopian peacekeeping forces.
The two countries, in September signed nine agreements related to economic and oil issues in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The AU welcomed the ratification of the 27 September 2012 agreements by the two countries and encourages them to ensure the effective and timely implementation of the Agreements signed, as well as other Agreements reached with the facilitation of the AUHIP;
AU noted that despite these major achievements, certain key issues included in the Roadmap remain unresolved between the two states, namely the Final Status of the Abyei Area and the resolution of Disputed and Claimed Border Areas.
In this respect, the council accepts the proposal submitted by the AUHIP on 21 September 2012, as representing a fair, equitable and workable solution to the dispute between the two countries, which takes into account existing Agreements entered into by the Parties, as well as the needs and interests of the communities on the ground.
The council requests the parties to engage each other, with the facilitation of the AUHIP, on the basis of the AUHIP’s Proposal on the Final Status of Abyei Area of 21 September 2012, seeking to reach consensus on the Final Status of the Abyei Area, within a period of six weeks the AUHIP is expected to report to it on the results of this engagement, immediately upon the expiration of the six-week period.
The council has urged the international community to urgently assist the parties to effect the safe and dignified return of all displaced persons to Abyei and requests the Commission, in this regard, to convene an international conference bringing together relevant stakeholders and partners to coordinate assistance for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Abyei, including addressing the economic needs of the nomadic population.
The AU regrets that the government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-North) have failed to convene direct negotiations, and calls on them to immediately do so no later than 10 November 2012, facilitated by the AUHIP with the support of the IGAD Chair, on the basis of the 28 June 2011 Framework Agreement Between the Government of Sudan and the SPLM-North taking into account the Draft Agreement submitted to them by the AUHIP on 17 September 2012.
The council call on the Parties to permit and facilitate immediate humanitarian access to the affected populations of the Two Areas and an immediate cessation of hostilities as the first priority during their direct negotiations.
The council also decided that the AU High-Level Implementation Panel for Sudan shall henceforth be referred to as the AU High-Level Implementation Panel for Sudan and South Sudan.