Sudan, South Sudan Peace Talks Yield Progress Slow
May 31, 2012
ADDIS ABABA - Peace talks between Sudan and South Sudan are said to be
yielding slow progress despite reports of fresh clashes on the ground and
questions about Sudan's withdrawal from the disputed Abyei region. Tensions
were high as the latest round of negotiations opened with a South Sudanese
demand for sanctions against Khartoum.
The second day of African Union-mediated talks Wednesday began three hours
late. Diplomats said negotiating teams were scrambling to organize their
South Sudan's chief negotiator Pagan Amum told reporters the initial
discussions are limited to basic procedural issues. "We will be presenting
the steps we are required to take, and they are required to take, and the
steps jointly we are required to take," he explained. "This will be
presented in a matrix for agreement and then agreeing on a timeline for when
to implement them, with the aim of respecting the timelines as indicated in
the Road Map and the Security Council resolution."
A previous round of talks broke down last month as fighting raged along the
disputed border. The chief AU mediator, former South African president
Thabo Mbeki, said at the time the neighbors had descended into a state of
Fears of a return to war prompted the U.N. Security Council this month to
approve resolution 2046. The resolution orders the feuding neighbors to
stop fighting, withdraw forces from the disputed and oil-producing Abyei
region, and return to the negotiating table.
South Sudan pulled its last 700 police officers out of Abyei by last
Tuesday's deadline. As the current round of talks got underway, the United
Nations certified that Khartoum had pulled its troops out, too. But
well-informed diplomatic sources say an unspecified number of Sudanese
police remain in Abyei.
South Sudan's Pagan Amum says Khartoum should be hit with U.N. sanctions for
multiple violations of the Security Council resolution.
"The government of Sudan did not withdraw from Abyei within the two weeks as
required. This is a violation," Amum stated. "We also asked the
representative of United Nations to report this violation, and this
non-compliance by the republic of Sudan, and we expect Sudan to suffer
sanctions and measures from the Security Council as promised."
Despite the strong words, Amum described this week's meetings as "good" and
said he is ready to continue.
Khartoum's delegation has declined to speak to reporters since the talks
began. Instead they issued a statement stressing their commitment to reach
a negotiated settlement on all issues, and promising "full adherence to
peace and stability."
South Sudan broke way from Khartoum last July after decades of conflict,
leaving unsettled a series of bitter disputes over borders, citizenship and
sharing of oil revenues.
Oil is the backbone of both countries' economies, and both have suffered
since South Sudan shut down production in January, accusing Sudan of
stealing oil that traveled through northern pipelines. Sudanese authorities
said the oil was taken in lieu of payment of fees it was owed by the south.
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Received on Thu May 31 2012 - 09:23:45 EDT