Sunday, August 26, 2012

Sudan Calls On African Mediators to Resolve Buffer Zone's Obstacle

Sudan: Khartoum Calls On African Mediators to Resolve Buffer Zone's Obstacle

26 August 2012
Sudan Tribune

Khartoum — Sudan's foreign ministry urged the African Union mediation to find a solution for what it called "an obstacle" the panel posed when it proposed map to establish a buffer zone between the two countries.

Khartoum and the African panel headed by the former South African President Thabo Mbeki are at odds over a map the mediation team prepared to operationalise a demilitarized zone on the common border.

When the two parties in November 2011 agreed on the security arrangements including the buffer zone, Khartoum vetoed the map because it identifies an area called "Mile 14" as a disputed area.

Since Khartoum says this area is a Sudanese location and, in any case, it cannot be considered a disputed area. Sudan further says the mediation ignored its objection and submitted the map to the U.N. Security Council to endorse it.

The African Union since continues to say the purpose of this 'temporary security line' is to cease hostilities between the two countries but not to define the final status of boundary.

Al-Obeid Ahmed Marzwah, spokesperson of the foreign affairs ministry in Khartoum, said in statements published on Saturday that this map is an "obstacle" to the implementation of security arrangements.

He further added that the map and the disengagement between the South Sudanese army SPLA and the Sudanese rebels of the SPLM-N are the two obstacles in the security file.

"If the buffer zone is operationalised and the SPLA is disengaged with divisions 9 and 10 (respectively) in Blue Nile and South Kordofan, this will weaken the opposition automatically," he said referring to SPLM-N fighters.

Juba denies systematically providing any support to the SPLM-N. It reaffirms that since the independence there are no link between the South Sudanese army and the Sudanese rebels.

South Sudan officials also say they will seek international arbitration to resolve the issue of disputed areas. But Juba is aware that Khartoum should accept such procedure, because the arbitration court requires the consent of the two states.

Marawah also played down the statements of U.S. envoy Princeton Lyman who called on Sudan to accept the African Union's map to establish the buffer zone. He further pointed out that the demand is not "new".

He reiterated that mediation has to think about new options to overcome the obstacle created by this map, stressing that the panel bears responsibility over the issue.

Sudan says no deal will be implemented unless the security issue is resolved.

The negotiating delegations are to resume talks on 30 August.

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