Tuesday, June 14, 2011

South Sudan to Invite Bashir for Independence Ceremony

South Sudan to invite Bashir for independence ceremony

June 13, 2011 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudan people Liberation Movement (SPLM) announced that it will invite president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir to attend the ceremony marking the independence of South Sudan from the North.

FILE - First Vice President of Sudan and President of the Government of Southern Sudan Salva Kiir Mayardit (R) welcomes Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir for a presidency meeting, at Juba airport April 7, 2011 (Reuters)The former federal cabinet affairs minister and the leading SPLM figure Luka Byong told the UAE-based Al-Itihad newspaper that Bashir will receive an invitation but it is up to him whether to accept or reject it.

Last January the people of South Sudan voted overwhelmingly in favor of secession which is due to become official on July 9th at the end of the interim period as set by the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).

Relations between the North and South have quickly deteriorated following the takeover of the border region of Abyei by the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) as well as clashes between both sides in South Kordofan.

The ties got so sour that local media in Khartoum reported that Bashir refused to allow South Sudan VP Riek Machar inside his office and insisted that they stand in the sun to talk. Machar came across Bashir as he was leaving following his meeting with his Northern counterpart Ali Osman Taha.

Bashir and South Sudan president Salva Kiir are currently meeting in Addis Ababa seeking to break the deadlock over Abyei with the aid of the African Union (AU).

Byong said that preparations for July 9th are in an "advanced stage" but acknowledged that there is a shortage in hotels and accommodations for those who will attend the ceremony. He said that the Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS) is seeking to find quick solutions for that.

The Southern official further said that guests who were invited are well aware of the situation in the soon to secede region in terms of development and reconstruction.

So far leaders of Zambia and Liberia have confirmed attendance. The former governor of the US state of Alaska and the 2008 Republican party candidate for Vice President Sarah Palin is also reported to be present.

The presence of Bashir might prove awkward for some attendees given his status as the first sitting head of state wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC).


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