Mbeki Downplays Prospects of Full Scale War Between Two Sudans

Presidents of both Sudan
Presidents of both Sudan

The chair of the African Union High Implementation Panel (AUHIP), former South Africa President, Thabo Mbeki, on Thursday, dismissed fears and speculations suggesting possibilities of war between Khartoum and Juba.

Sudan and South Sudan armies clashed several times since last December amid accusations of support to rebel groups from both sides of the border. Also the two parties failed to achieve tangible progress in the AU mediated talks over the outstanding issues dealing with Abyei, security, border demarcation, oil transit fees and citizenship.

Mbeki made the remark on his arrival at Juba International Airport, expressing optimism that the ongoing talks will produce substantial results and reduce current tension between the two neighbouring countries.

“Our visit is basically to meet with the leadership of this country. We will meet President Salva Kiir to brief him on the progress and to hear from him and the leadership,” Mbeki told reporters on Thursday.

He explained that differences between the two sides will not destabilise either side although the issues being addressed seem to raise attention. “I have a confidence that the leadership of the two countries will reach an understanding to resolve issues currently under discussion,” he added.

Mbeki who is blamed by Juba for his criticism to its positions in the talks wanted to suggest to President Salva Kiir to meet his Sudanese counterpart Omer al-Bashir in Addis Ababa instead of the aborted meeting in Juba.

The presidential summit is seen crucial by the mediation and the international community to ease the tension between the two capitals and to push towards a quick agreement on security issues.

Bashir called off a meeting planed on 3 April after an attack on Heglig carried by South Sudanese army. Sudanese rebels of the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) were reportedly also involved in the attack. At the time, Kiir publicly claimed his troops were controlling the oil producing area.

However information minister, Barnaba Marial Benjamin, told London based pan-Arab newspaper, Asharq Alawsat, that Kiir insisted in his meeting with Mbeki that the meeting should be held in Juba as planned and refused to organise it in Addis Ababa.

“Bashir has to determine when he will meet Salva Kiir, For our part we are ready to receive him,” he emphasized.

The former South Africa president said the ongoing disputes have to do with both nations’ efforts to manage diversity and build a sense of cohesion and the economic viability of the two states.

“The issues being discussed are diverse in terms of economic, in terms of political, in terms of social relation, in terms of level of development. You have to find the way of mutually all these issues so that none of the parties feels aggrieved to affect implementation. Certainly this is one of the matters that we are working with the government of the Republic of South Sudan. The government of Sudan will also be to pay similar attention and act,” Mbeki said.