Sudan’s Bashir to Visit South Sudan ‘Soon’

Sudan’s President Omar Hassan Al Bashir is slated to visit his South Sudanese counterpart Salva Kiir to further strengthen efforts on the implementation of the Cooperation Agreement, an official said Wednesday.

By Waakhe Simon Wudu

JUBA, 16 October 2013 [Gurtong] – South Sudan government Spokesperson Michael Makuei told Gurtong in an exclusive interview that the date for the visit in Juba is yet to be fixed, but stated that it will be “soon.”

“Yeah President Bashir is coming next week. The date will be announced at later today,” Makuei said.

“The key issues are the usual outstanding issues on the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) and the operationalization of the cooperation agreement plus any other related issues,” Makuei said.

However, key in case is, the two leaders are expected to strike a deal on Abyei.

On Monday an anonymous source claimed to be close to President Bashir told media including those in Juba that Bashir is expected to arrive in Juba next Tuesday and mainly to discuss the Abyei issue.

The Cooperation Agreement, a deal stroke last year in September in Addis Ababa believe could defuse tension between Juba and Khartoum, its implementation has remained challenging up to recent past months.

Abyei has remained critical with the two leaders hardly made any breakthrough despite their improving relations in the last seven months.

South Sudan has requested the African Union for an extraordinary summit on the Abyei referendum whose fate currently hangs in the balance.

The minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Dr. Barnaba Marial Benjamin revealed that he handed over this request to the chairperson of the African Union Commission, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma during the recent AU summit.

Dr. Benjamin said the time set aside for Abyei referendum is running out and urged the African leaders to back this process.

Abyei referendum is supposed to be carried out this October but nothing seems to have been done so far. Issues to do with voters’ registration, Abyei administration and commission have not been tackled conclusively.

According to the African Union’s proposal, voters who are eligible for the October referendum were the nine Ngok chiefdoms and any other permanent residents that have stayed for long in Abyei. This proposal was rejected by Khartoum making the preparations for the upcoming plebiscite difficult.

The minister further called on the African leaders to encourage President Omar al-Bashir to support the Abyei referendum so as to enable the people of Abyei to determine their destiny.

Dr. Benjamin also said President Bashir has confirmed that he will be coming to Juba in accordance with the invitation extended to him by President Salva Kiir.

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