Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (PANA) - The African Union (AU) has issued a deadline of 2 August 2012 to Sudan and South Sudan to conclude agreements on outstanding knotty issues between the two states.
In an indication that the continental body may be eager to end the stand-off between the states,
the AU's Peace and Security Council (PSC), which met in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, at the level of the heads of state on Saturday, called for the finalisation of the agreements on payment of the oil transit fees, the immediate demarcation of the north-south border and the resumption of the two-party talks.
The leaders noted, as signs of progress, the significant drop in military aggression between the two countries and the steps taken between the two states to exchange the names and identities of the monitoring teams.
“The two parties have adopted the concept of strategic partnership and the commitment to build on this mutually-beneficial partnership,” said AU's Commissioner for Peace and Security Ramtane Lamamra, reading a communiqué issued after a meeting of the PSC, which attracted most of the organ’s 15-member states.
The council called for the completion of the talks and the immediate re-opening of the north-south border to allow the border communities to start trading with each other as part of post-conflict relationship building plan.
Sudan has recently agreed to open up the relief corridors, a step which has been welcomed by the AU and the UN.
The PSC warned the two countries to take steps to ensure there is no return to military action in the Southern Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan states.
South Sudan seized oil fields in the Heglig region after accusing Sudan of using the region to launch military strikes, leading to the destruction of the key infrastructure in the region.
The leaders said the two sides should urgently convene a meeting to finalise the formation of the Executive Council for the contested region of Abyei.
Meanwhile, the AU leaders have expressed concern over Sudan’s failure to withdraw some of its police units from Abyei.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi was appointed as the crisis mediator, and the PSC
said he should provide a progress report before the 2 August deadline.
Asked whether there would be sanctions if Sudan and South Sudan fail to meet the 2 August ultimatum, Lamamra said it would be speculative to imagine the parties would not have made progress by that date.
-0- PANA AO/SEG 15July2012