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South Sudan in talks with Sudan over border tensions

March 21, 2016 (JUBA) – Juba on Monday said it was in talks with Khartoum over border tensions linked to security matters in addition to demarcations of their common border as well as oil charges for transiting Sudanese territory to the international markets.

Speaking in an interview on Monday, Foreign Minister, Barnaba Marial Benjamin, said the South Sudanese government was negotiating with the neighbouring Sudanese government to resolve the matters through diplomatic channels instead of resorting to media which has been addressed by the 2012 cooperation agreement.

“There are better ways to resolve matters which have emerged to the concern of the parties in the agreement. The 2012 cooperation agreement which we have signed with the government of Sudan has clear mechanisms in place to be used. Also the agreement does not allow the two countries to host and allow their borders to be used by a negative and hostile force against the other,” said Benjamin.

“We have complied with this but if there is a concern from the Sudanese side, there is a body which deals with such concerns. We have Joint Political Security Mechanism. This is the body which deals with complaints from either side. The Sudanese government should have used this body and I am sure we would have responded to their concerns instead of going to the media,” he added.

Minister Benjamin further also criticized the Sudanese government’s recent decision to deny South Sudanese who fled to their country the right to reside in Sudan with no valid documents, adding that Juba will not reciprocate.

He lamented that the South Sudanese people believed they are one and the same people with the Sudanese but who have only been divided by political ideologies to become two countries.

“The division of Sudan into the south and north should not be used to punish the ordinary citizens, who share a lot in common because the country has been divided. As the government we are not saying the government of Sudan should not do what it sees right for its citizens and their country. The government of Sudan has the right to enact its own laws because that is their country and no one would stop them except Sudanese themselves,” he said.

“But as the government of the republic of South Sudan, I assure you of our commitment to continue to [work] hand in hand with brothers and sisters from Sudan to achieve the objective of the cooperation agreement because our relationships between Sudan and South Sudan should be treated as not short term relationship.”

Benjamin further explained that the two countries should be cooperating as neighbours forever and to develop special relationship because they are one people in the two countries.

“So there is no way you can treat citizens like the other foreign nationals. The Sudanese citizens in South Sudan now are working and living as citizens of this country. We expect the same treatment from Sudan,” he added.
The minister said President Salva Kiir would soon call the Sudanese president, Omer al-Bashir, over the matter and to close the chapter and begin a new page through diplomatic channels.

“Our president, General Salva Kiir would soon call his brother, Sudanese president Omer al-Bashir so that they discuss this and other issues as brothers as they have always done on difficult matters. I am sure they reach an understanding as usual. They have done that before and I am confident they will also do it. The ground work is being arranged through our embassy in Khartoum and here in Juba.”

He did not however provide the date and time when the two leaders would call each other and remains unclear what are the issues they would discuss.

The two countries, once on Sudan before July 2011, have been accusing each other of supporting the other’s rebel movements across their common borders.

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