Sudan and S. Sudan agree to set timeline for significant deals
By Jenny Vaughan, AFPADDIS ABABA -- The rival presidents of Sudan and South Sudan agreed Saturday to abide by timelines to be drawn up to implement a raft of security, oil and border deals stalled for over three months, mediators said.
January 7, 2013, 12:22 am TWN
With the two neighbors increasingly cash-strapped after a spat led Juba to shut down its oil output a year ago, the announcement offered fresh hope of a breakthrough in long-running talks to end the crisis.
African Union (AU) mediator Thabo Mbeki said at the end of a summit meeting in the Ethiopian capital that Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and his Southern counterpart Salva Kiir had recommitted to the key deals and agreed to enact them “unconditionally.”
“Our panel is preparing a matrix for the implementation of all of the existing agreements with timeframes,” said Mbeki, a former South African president, adding that the AU would complete the timelines by Jan. 13.
The deals, which were signed in September but were never implemented, include the restarting of Southern oil exports through northern pipelines, as well as the reopening of border points for general trade.
They also included the withdrawal of troops back from contested border regions to create a demilitarized buffer zone hoped to ease tensions between the two armies, who came close to all out war in March and April 2012.
The summit of the leaders, whose nations are both struggling with economic austerity cuts following Juba's halting of oil exports through Sudan following a dispute over fees, was the latest of repeated rounds of AU-mediated talks.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, who hosted and helped mediate the talks, said he was “very much satisfied” with the progress of the meeting.
“I am very happy that the bottlenecks are now released and the implementation can resume,” he told reporters.
Tensions have been high between former civil war foes Bashir and Kiir after the latest in a string of accusations that Khartoum had bombed South Sudan.