- Updated with South Sudan denial that they are absent.
- Adds South Sudan claim that it is northern officials who are absent.
January 21, 2012 (KHARTOUM) – The African Union High Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) today announced that the governments of Sudan and South Sudan have requested that the meetings of the joint political and security mechanisms be postponed until next Thursday.
The rescheduling appears to be the result of confusion other who was present at the talks. Initial reports indicated that South Sudan’s defence and interior ministers had not attended despite the arrival of their Sudanese counterparts in Addis Ababa to attend the meetings.
This prompted protest by the Sudanese delegation, which also refused AUHIP mediation but suggested that Khartoum let its military chief of staff head their side in the talks. They said that the “unjustified” gesture by Juba shows their lack of seriousness.
However, South Sudan’s deputy defense minister, Majak De Ajot, told Sudan Tribune today that the southern delegation had arrived in Ethiopia.
Ajot said he was in Addis Ababa with James Hoth Mai, the SPLA chief of General Staff the deputy interior deputy minister with six other senior security officers to represent the South Sudanese government at the talks.
He countered Khartoum’s assertion that Juba was not serious about the talks by claiming that the Sudanese defense and interior ministers had not attend but had instead sent their chief of staff.
Khartoum also showed little enthusiasm to AUHIP proposal tabled for discussion regarding opening crossings in Blue Nile state which it says was not part of last September’s agreement on the ten other crossings to be inaugurated.
The Sudanese delegation is of the view that there is a link between security issues, border trade and movement of citizens but that the fighting in the Blue Nile state precludes proposals for this area at this time.
It is believed that South Sudan took this step in retaliation to Sudan’s continued confiscation of its oil pumped into the pipelines running through the territories of the north. Khartoum insists that it was forced to do that in order to collect payment for use of its oil infrastructure.
The two countries have failed to agree on the transit fees that should be charged for the usage of the pipelines and the refineries in the AUHIP sponsored talks that have been ongoing for months.