Two days ahead of a scheduled presidential summit between the leaders of Sudan and South Sudan, negotiators said they were hopeful of arriving at a broad agreement to end hostilities and resume oil production and transit between the two countries.
President Omar Hassan al Bashir of Sudan and President Salva Kiir Mayardit of South Sudan are expected to meet in the Ethiopian capital on Sunday to conclude a comprehensive agreement that addresses issues left unresolved when South Sudan seceded from its northern neighbour last year.
As per Resolution 2046 (2012) of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), the two countries are expected to settle border disputes, agree upon a demilitarised buffer zone, address the modalities for a referendum in the disputed, oil-rich, territory of Abyei, resolve the status of citizens of one country living in the other and resume the production and transport of oil.
South Sudan stopped oil production earlier this year after a dispute over the transit fee demanded by the North for use of its pipelines. While the land-locked South has most of the oil reserves, the North has retained the pipelines, refineries, and most importantly, access to the Red Sea.
As per the UNSC resolution, the two sides must arrive at a comprehensive agreement by September 22 or face possible sanctions.
Both sides had tentatively agreed upon the fee for oil transit in August, but are yet to decide on the exact coordinates of the demilitarised zone.
South Sudanese officials told The Hindu that they had consented to a map presented by the African Union High-level Implementation Panel [AIUHIP], but that the Sudanese delegation was yet to agree. “It’s fifty-fifty at the moment,” said a Sudanese negotiator on the sidelines of the talks.
South Sudan’s Minister for Cabinet Affairs Deng Alor said the negotiators were concentrating on the buffer zone, while the status of Abyei and the modalities of the referendum would be addressed by the two Presidents on Sunday. A spokesperson for Sudan could not be reached.