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Sudan, South Sudan agree to open border crossings, activate buffer zone

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Joint teams marking a crossing point between the two countries (undated picture by UNISFA)
March 19, 2019 (KHARTOUM) - Sudan and South Sudan have agreed to open the border crossing points agreed between the countries within a month besides activating the Safe Demilitarized Border Zone (SDBZ).

The agreement came during the meeting of the Joint Political and Security Committee (JPSC) between the two countries on Monday in Khartoum.

In press statements following the meeting, Sudan Army’s Chief of General Staff Kamal Abdel-Marouf said the meeting also agreed to form joint teams under the auspices of UNISFA to ensure none presence of military forces from both countries on the SBDZ.

Abdel-Marouf, who headed the Sudanese side during the meeting, said the agreement reached reflects the strong will of both countries, pointing out that they look forward to taking further measures to achieve the interests of the two peoples.

For his part, South Sudan’s defence minister Kuol Manyang Juuk stressed his country’s keenness to implement all measures pertaining to the opening of the crossing points and the SDBZ.

He said the opening of the crossing points would enhance relations and promotes security and stability in the two countries, pointing to its economic importance particularly in light of the difficult economic situation in both countries.

In May 2017, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) decided to reduce UNISFA troops and warned it may withdraw its support to the Sudan-South Sudan border monitoring force if they continue to impede the activation of the operation.

The buffer zone and other security arrangements have been agreed since September 2012 but its operationalization had been stopped despite several attempts by the AUHIP to encourage the parties to enforce the deal. The latest were two deals signed in October 2015 and June 2016.

In September 2012, both Sudan and South Sudan signed a series of cooperation agreements, which covered oil, citizenship rights, security issues, banking, border trade among others.

In March 2013, the two countries signed an implementation matrix for these cooperation agreements. However, the execution of the agreements didn’t go according to the plan.

South Sudan seceded from Sudan on July 9th, 2011 following a referendum on whether the semi-autonomous region should remain a part of the country or become independent. 99% of the southern voters chose independence.

(ST)

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