Sudan, South Sudan resolve border dispute

Wednesday October 23 2019

South Sudan's Darius Garng and Sudan's Al-Amin

South Sudan's Darius Garng and Sudan's Al-Amin Mohamed Banga sign a border pact at the conclusion of the 11th Joint Border Commission meeting in Khartoum, Sudan on October 22, 2019. The two sides resolved disputes along the border, enhancing trade and security, except over five areas which will be the subject of further discussions in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. PHOTO | MAWAHIB ABDALLATIF | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

MAWAHIB ABDALLATIF
By MAWAHIB ABDALLATIF
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Sudan and South Sudan have made a major breakthrough in border talks that concluded on Tuesday in Khartoum leaving only five areas subject to further negotiations.

At the conclusion of its 11th Joint Border Commission on October 22, chairman Moaz Mohamed Ahmed Tengu said the two sides agreed on where the border should pass.

“We agreed on the border lines, frontier marks and new maps will be drawn. We also agreed on the financial cost of the border demarcation programme.

The African Union Office in Sudan witnessed the signing of an agreement, including full description of the agreed parts.

However, five areas are still under contention including the Dabba al-Fukhar, Jabal al-Muqainis and Kaka areas on the border.

The others are Kefi Kenji and Hofrat Al-Nehass commercial areas in South Darfur, a 13-square-kilometer region inhabited by tribes from Darfur in western Sudan.

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The disputed areas carry a population of more than 10 million people and are habitable because of good weather, water and natural resources that make them conducive to farming and livestock keeping.

The Sudan co-chair of the joint technical committee Al-Amin Mohamed Banga said the agreement would benefit people, businesses and help enhance security.

At the next meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia discussions would be focused on the disputed areas with each country providing a full description of the areas they are laying claim to.

"The next meeting will focus on areas under each neighbours control that is claimed by the other," said the South Sudan deputy co-chair Darius Garng.

Analysts attribute the closing of ranks to mutual trust and political will, blaming ousted Sudan leader Omar al Bashir for frustrating resolution of the dispute.

"The former regime in Khartoum was using delaying tactics in order to frustrate the process," political analyst Atem Simon Mabior, rating the chances of the implementation good.

He said Juba and Khartoum should have open borders for movement of people and goods.

"There is no urgent need to agree on the buffer zone," he said, saying the committee of experts should immediately start the work of putting landmarks.

The Joint Commission for the Border between the two countries was formed in Addis Ababa on November 21, 2016.

The disputed border has been a security threat to both countries as armed groups took advantage since oil rich South Sudan's independence in 2011.

Last week the UN Security Council extended the mandate of its 2011 Joint Monitoring Mechanism along the border by six weeks from end of September to November 15.

The mandate allows UN to protect civilians and humanitarian workers in the disputed oil-rich Abyei area after the border was deemed a threat to international peace and security.
The Abyei region has been granted special status under the Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed between Sudan and South Sudan on 25 September 2003.

Progress on the Sudan border dispute comes days after Kenya and Ethiopia announced they had reached agreement on management of their common border to enhance trade and raids by communities living across the border.

Other border disputes, however, continue to cause unease in the region the most high profile one being the row between Kenya and Somalia over their maritime border.

The dispute will be heard at the International Court of Justice in June next year.

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