Sunday, March 22, 2015

South Sudan Urges Khartoum to Respect Cooperation Agreement
March 20 2015 (JUBA) - South Sudan on Friday reiterated calls for its northern neighbour to adhere to the 2012 Cooperation Agreement, which both nations signed to resolve post-secession issues.

South Sudanese foreign affairs minister, Barnaba Marial Benjamin, said the world’s youngest nation looks forward to enhancing strong bilateral ties with Sudan in all aspects within the framework of the 2012 cooperation agreement, which advocates and encourages the two nations to embrace and promote the concept of two viable states living side by side for the mutual benefits of their people.

The minister said recent statements attributed to senior Sudanese officials, including president Omer El-Bashir on the fate of the disputed Mile-14 area between the two Sudans were uncalled for.

"In our vision of peace as the government, of course within the framework of the cooperation we have signed with the republic of Sudan, we are committed to the full implementation of the agreement with the view that it promotes the principle of two viable states,” said Marial.

“Our vision advocates for our people on both sides to live freely, side-by-side, in friendship and mutual respect,” he stressed.

The 14-Mile area, located between Northern Bahr el Ghazal and East Darfur states, is claimed by Darfur Rizeigat tribe and South Sudanese Malual Dinka. The dispute over this grazing area prevented the operationalisation of the buffer zone and together with Abyei region hamper the normalisation of relations between the two countries.

The Sudanese president was this week quoted reassuring East Darfur tribes that his government would not give up the disputed area of 14-Mile to South Sudan.

Marial, however, said it was wrong for Sudan to threaten its southern neighbour.

“These two realities, our connection to families in Sudan and in the republic of South Sudan and population living within these territories, should be the source of strong bilateral relations and use it to address issues that arise”, explained Marial.

He further assured that the young nation and its government would not annex any territory from any neigbouring country and will also not concede an inch of a territory to any country claiming part of it.

“Our people are peace loving people and we are aspiring to build peace loving nation because we know the value of good neighborhood. We therefore don’t want to take what does not belong to us and we also do not want anybody to take away from us what belongs to us,” said Marial.

“The issue of 14-Mile area is addressed in the cooperation agreement and it is true our people will not accept any other means to concede even an inch”, he added.

Mel Wal Achien, a member of the country’s national assembly in whose constituency the disputed area falls, said populations in the region will not surrender their territory.

“We will never concede even an inch of the 14 miles,” said Achien.

He said South Sudan, in the spirit of peaceful co-existence, allowed the Reizigat tribe from Sudan to utilise its land without pre-conditions.

“We cherish the objective of a lasting peace among ourselves and neighbours. Our people strongly support the idea of two viable states, living side by side in peace and security. This is the goal we share with our government at the national level, and people of goodwill in the region,” stressed the South Sudanese lawmaker.

“That is the vision of peace our government advocated [for] in the Cooperation Agreement,” he added.


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