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عربي

Khartoum and Juba push for last-minute deal

Mohamed Hilali
The second UN deadline for negotiations between Sudan and South Sudan passed but the two parties pressed on with talks on Monday.
24.09.2012  |  Khartoum
The Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and the South Sudanese President Salva Kiir Mayardit at the celebration of South Sudan independence on July 9 2011.
The Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and the South Sudanese President Salva Kiir Mayardit at the celebration of South Sudan independence on July 9 2011.

Sudan and South Sudan are trying to hammer out a deal about their contested borders, in a last-ditch attempt to avoid UN sanctions being levied on their fragile economies.

The two nations are winding up two weeks of negotiations in Ethiopia, with the goal of halting conflict along the border. A deal would enable South Sudan to resume vital oil exports which were halted during a row at the start of the year.

The first deadline passed in early August and the second passed on September 24, but Sudan and South Sudan were still locked in negotiations on Monday, hoping to build on an interim oil deal.

Statements from Addis Ababa, where the talks are underway, put a positive spin on efforts to bridge long-standing divisions. Sudan stressed the parties were near to signing agreements on a number of divisions. For their part, the South Sudanese said a solution had been found to most of the outstanding issues.

South Sudan Ambassador to Khartoum, Mayen Dut Wol.
© The Niles | Mohamed Hilaly
Politicians, observers and analysts believe that parties aim to achieve an extension of the deadline. Failure to strike a deal would put them at risk of incurring sanctions from the UN Security Council -- a further major blow for their troubled economies.

The South Sudanese Ambassador Mayen Dut says any extension of the talks depends on the mediator and how he views the progress achieved so far. He said the only major obstacle is the Mile 14, a swathe of land between Western Bahr el-Ghazal State in South Sudan and East Darfur in Sudan.

The Ambassador remained optimistic that agreement can be achieved on some issues while others can be postponed.

The four-freedom” issue is one issue that has already been settled. The deal, negotiated last March by the two countries, allows citizens of both states to enjoy freedom of residence, freedom of movement, freedom to undertake economic activity and freedom to acquire and dispose property”.

Political analyst Ali Jadin.
© The Niles | Mohamed Hilaly
Commentators suggested that many conflictive issues must be postponed and negotiated later.

An agreement on extension will be reached,” political analyst Mohamed Ali Jadin said, adding that the four-freedom agreement is about to be signed, and many issues have been settled.

He suggested that both parties could sign relevant framework agreements, opening the door for an extension of negotiations.