Friday, March 16, 2012

South Sudan, Sudan: Ban commends Sudan, South Sudan for progress in talks to resolve outstanding issues

Sudanese refugees rest next to their UNHCR tent inside South Sudan

UN - 15 March 2012 –
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has commended the Governments of Sudan and South Sudan for the progress they have made in talks aimed at resolving post-independence issues, including agreements reached on the status of citizens of each State and the demarcation of the border.

“Coming to an agreement on the status of nationals of each state and the demarcation of the common boundary is an important step forward and an encouraging manifestation of both parties’ spirit of cooperation and partnership,” said a statement issued by the spokesperson for the Secretary-General late yesterday.

Mr. Ban also welcomed the planned summit between the President of Sudan, Omar al-Bashir, and his South Sudan counterpart, Salva Kiir, to sign the agreements. He encouraged them to resolve all other outstanding matters urgently, making the compromises that will guarantee a peaceful and prosperous future for both countries.

The Secretary-General congratulated the African Union’s High-Level Implementation Panel, under the leadership of former South African President Thabo Mbeki, for its tireless efforts to conclude the negotiations between the two States.

Media reports earlier this week said that Sudan and South Sudan had signed an agreement that provides for free movement and residence of their citizens in each other’s territory.

South Sudan seceded from Sudan in July last year following a referendum on self-determination that capped the implementation of an agreement signed in 2005 to end decades of warfare between the north and the south.

However, the two countries continued to feud over several unresolved issues, including the delineation of the border, control of the disputed territory of Abyei, and more recently tariffs charged by Sudan on South Sudan for the use of a pipeline and port to export oil.

Meanwhile, Hilde F. Johnson, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for South Sudan, told reporters at UN Headquarters that inter-ethnic conflict in Jonglei state has resulted in worsening violence in recent years. Tribal militias seem to have acquired modern weapons, communications equipment and a higher level of organization.

“We have seen armed groups with uniforms, in formation, with extremely advanced weaponry and very well organized,” Ms. Johnson said after briefing the Security Council behind closed doors. “So it is not cattle raiding any more, these are historical traditions that have [been] permeated with new and modern technology,” she said.

Jonglei has been wracked by bloody violence between the Lou Nuer and Murle communities in recent months. The two communities have a history of cattle rustling between them, but the scale of violence has been worsening in recent years.

These are “different and difficult conflicts to resolve. Only a coherent peace process can resolve them,” said Ms. Johnson, who is also head of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).