Skip to main content
ADDIS ABEBA - 28 Jun 2012

Demilitarized border zone bottleneck in negotiations South Sudan and Sudan

South Sudan offered Sudan direct ‘closed door negotiations’ without the presence of the African Union. After the peace negotiations led by the African Union failed to reach an agreement the delegations went back to their home countries ‘for consultations’ as the AU stated. The ‘compromise-proposal’ was presented by South Sudan head of delegation Pagan Amum.

The second round of African Union (AU) led negotiations between Sudan and South Sudan were adjourned today (Thursday) after six days of talking in Addis Ababa. The delegations could not agree on any of the pressing topics on the agenda such as a cessation of hostilities or a secured border zone. South Sudan offered Sudan a ‘compromised proposal’ in order to reach a peace agreement before the 2 August deadline as set by the United Nations Security Council.

The peace talks will continue on the 5th of July when the negotiators return from consulting their Presidents, Salva Kiir Mayardit of South Sudan and Omar Al-Bashir of Sudan, on this new proposal of South Sudan, the African Union said in a statement.

Pagan Amum, head of the South Sudanese delegation, said in a press conference on Thursday the only reason for the delays in the negotiations is that ‘Sudan has not accepted the AU roadmap as a basis for the establishment of the safe demilitarized border zone’. He added that the government of Sudan refused to negotiate all outstanding issues ‘before the agenda of security is resolved to their satisfaction’.

According to Amum, the African Union High Implementation Panel (AUHIP) had not invited the two countries yet to start negotiations on these other unresolved issues. These issues include oil and related payments, the resolution of disputed areas, the status of nationals of the other state and the final status of Abyei.

South Sudan therefore ‘pro-actively’ offered Sudan a ‘compromised proposal’ that was presented as an alternative to the roadmap of the AU.

In this proposal, Sudan and South Sudan will engage in direct and ‘closed door negotiations’. All disputed areas should be demilitarized and a joint administration in these areas will be established. Amum said ‘arbitration or negotiations should then determine to which state the disputed areas belong’.

Sudan's Defence Minister Abdelrahim Mohamed Hussein said ‘the most important thing of this round of negotiations was that it had put the delegations in the right track to address and examine core issues’.

Abdelrahim said the Khartoum delegation is confident to ‘get results as long as negotiations will continue’. South Sudan, on the other hand, called on the international community to ‘support a time bound arbitral process, over an open-ended negotiation process’. Despite this call Amum said South Sudan is hopeful that the consultations in Khartoum on his compromised proposal ‘will be positive’.

Thabo Mbeki, head of the AUHIP, praised both countries for demonstrating ‘great maturity and seriousness in their approach to the negotiations, mindful of the timeframes contained in the Roadmap and UN-security council resolution 2046’. (By Lotte van Elp)