July 22, 2013 (ADDIS ABABA) - The African Union (AU) and the East African regional bloc, Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), on Monday launched an investigation committee to probe accusations traded by Sudan and South Sudan of support to rebel groups.
- (From L-R) Maj-Gen (Retired) Julius Olakunle Sunday Oshanupin, minister of foreign affairs Tedros Adhanom and AU commissioner for peace and security Ramtane Lamamra at the 22 July launch of an investigation into accusations of rebel support and to determine a border centreline (Photo: AU)
The Ad Hoc Investigative Mechanism (AIM), which is comprised of three senior military officers, will be heading to Khartoum from Addis Ababa on Tuesday and then to Juba.
Speaking at the launching ceremony, the current chair of IGAD’s Council of Ministers and, Ethiopian Foreign Minister, Tedros Adhanom, said that IGAD hopes "that this mechanism will resolve that longstanding problem, the allegation by both parties of hosting rebels against the other."
In September 2012, the two countries signed nine cooperation agreements aiming to end tensions and build the needed confidence between the two parties before handling issues like Abyei and border demarcation. The stoppage of oil exports and allegations of support to rebel groups stopped the deals.
Following the signing of implementation mechanism in March 2013, Khartoum sent messages and then ministers to Juba to discuss the rebels’ issue before deciding to stop, starting from 7 August, the flow of South Sudanese oil through its pipeline saying Juba breached the deal.
"The AIM was established in response to a proposal made by the Chair of the AU High-Level Implementation Panel on Sudan and South Sudan, former President Thabo Mbeki, to address persistent allegations made by Sudan and South Sudan", said a communiqué released by the AU and IGAD on Monday.
The African Union called on the two sides to cooperate with the committee stressing that the mistrust between them has jeopardised the implementation of the Cooperation Agreement.
Khartoum last week repeated that it will stop oil exportation at the announced date, with Juba responding by reducing its oil output to 160,000 barrels per day from 200,000 barrels a day.
In Khartoum the Sudanese foreign ministry confirmed the arrival of the AIM, but observers noticed that the official media ignored its launched.
Meanwhile in Juba, foreign minister Nhial Deng Nhial, welcomed the expected visit of the African military delegation and pledged that his government will "give them whatever support required from us as the government of the republic of South Sudan to accomplish their task".
In a statement to Sudan Tribune on Monday Nhial further confirmed that AIM will fly first to the Sudanese capital Khartoum and then come to Juba, without giving the exact date of when the team will visit his country.
Khartoum says the rebel groups of Darfur, Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains are harboured and supported by the South Sudanese government. In return, Juba points out that the ongoing rebellion led by David Yau Yau in Jonglei is backed by the Sudanese authorities.
The AIM’s three members are Brigadier-General Luis Inacio Muxito, Defense and Security Advisor to the Chair of the AU Commission, who heads the committee, Major-General (Retired) Julius Olakunle Sunday Oshanupin, and Brigadier-General Jean Baptiste Tine.
Khartoum accuses South Sudan government of supporting the Sudanese Revolutionary Front rebel alliance, while the South in return accuses North of backing insurgents in Jonglei state in order to disrupt Juba’s planes of searching for oil and building an alternative pipeline through the eastern state.
The African Union also announced the launch of another committee on Monday tasked with the determination of the centreline for the demilitarized zone on the common border between the two countries.
The two sides still diverge on the delimitation of the centreline from where they have to withdraw their troops ten kilometres south for the SPLA and north for the Sudanese army because they disagree on the plans for some disputed areas on the border.
The African Union and IGAD urged the two Sudans to "respect all aspects of the Security Agreement and to ensure that all its forces are redeployed out of the (buffer zone)".
The two organisations further "strongly urged" Khartoum to not shutdown the pipeline underlining that such a decision will would "cause irreparable damage to the integrity of the pipeline and adversely affect the economies of both states".
The joint statement also called on both states to refrain from any unilateral action, while these two processes are underway, "that may jeopardize the successful completion of their work".
The mechanism to investigate support to rebel groups is expected to complete its work in six weeks.