March 13, 2013 (KHARTOUM) – South Sudanese president Salva Kiir renewed Tuesday his invitation to the Sudanese counterpart Omer Al-Bashir to visit Juba during a telephone call between the two leaders.
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir (R) listens as his South Sudanese counterpart Salva Kiir speaks during a joint news conference, before Kiir’s departure at Khartoum Airport October 9, 2011 (REUTERS PICTURES)
The Sudanese presidency announced that the two presidents , in their telephone call, congratulated each other on the signing of a matrix to implement the Cooperation Agreement they had signed on 27 September 2012.
The matrix which was inked on 12 March, provides to ratify the nine agreements by the national parliaments with 40 days, to operationalise a buffer zone, to resume oil exportations and other deals aiming to normalise bilateral relations after the secession of South Sudan.
The press secretary at the Sudanese presidency Eimad Sid Ahmed said that Kiir renewed his invitation to Bashir to visit Juba and the latter accepted the invitation and pledged to visit South Sudan capital soon.
He added that the two presidents agreed that the interests of people in two countries and mutual benefits require strengthening of the historical relations between Sudan and South Sudan.
Sid Ahmed further said the two leaders agreed to proceed in good faith to enforce the matrix and to work seriously to settle the outstanding issues that hinder the promotion of cooperation between the two countries.
Al-Bashir’s visit to Juba had been announced several times in the past but, he did not travel to the South Sudanese capital because of the continued tension and lack of progress in the talks between the two countries.
However with latest developments between the two capitals, particularly the implementation of security arrangements and resumption of oil exportation, Bashir may travel this time to Juba as Kiir already visited in Khartoum in October 2011.
The Undersecretary at oil ministry Awad Abdel Fatah, who is also a member of the Sudanese negotiating delegation announced that oil firms were directed to resume oil exportation, stressing that all the related administrative and technical measures will be finalised as soon as possible.
The head of the Sudanese delegation Idris Abdel Gader stated that the two parties agreed to work together to address Sudan’s debt and to reach donors to write it off within two years.
He added that if the exemption was not possible, then the only remaining option is to divide the debt between the two countries.
The two countries share a debt of approximately $38bn, accumulated over a five-year period. Most of the debts, according to a 2009 report from the Bank of Sudan, are owed to the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), and other foreign financial entities.
He also asserted Sudan’s commitment to reach an agreement over Abyei issue in accordance with the protocol related to the disputed area.
Sudan and South Sudan diverge over who can take part in the crucial vote to determine the fate of the disputed area. Recently Sudan refused a resolution by the African Union Peace and Security Council to hold a referendum next October, saying this option means a return to war.
On the other hand, Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) spokesperson Al-Sawarmi Khaled said that the Sudanese army had already begun to withdraw from the demilitarised zone along the border between the two countries.
Also, a member of the Sudanese side at the joint security committee , Lt. Gen. Imad Al-Adawi stated that full withdrawal of the Sudanese troops from Mile 14 area will be achieved within 14 days and not one week, while the operationalisation of the buffer zone will start on 17 March.
He confirmed that the monitoring mechanism or JBVMM, temporarily based in Kadugli before will move to Abyei.