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Khartoum urges AU to pressure Juba on troops’ withdrawal

March 1, 2012 (KHARTOUM/JUBA) – The African Union should pile pressure on South Sudan, until it withdraws its troops from the "five Sudanese areas", Sudan’s Vice President, Al-Haj Adam, said in reference to areas both countries claim on the common border.

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SPLA soldiers (file/AFP)

Al-Haj, while speaking in Ed Daein, the capital of East Dafur state on Friday, said "Sudan would not surrender even an inch of its territory" as demanded by Juba, for it to withdraw its troops from Mile 14 and the other disputed areas.

On 27 September last year, the two countries signed a number of agreements, including one related to the five disputed areas where a demilitarised zone is to be established. Both countries, until now, have failed to operationalise the agreement due to their divergence over the territory of Mile 14.

However, the Sudanese Vice President insists his country has respected the agreement, without resorting to the use of force, adding that the Sudanese army (SAF) is capable of extending its control over these sites as it has done before.

Al-Haj’s remarks comes barley a day after the Sudanese foreign ministry issued a statement reaffirming its desire to implement cooperation agreements it signed with South Sudan, in the presence of the AU mediation team.

"The Government of the Sudan would like to reiterate its commitment to the comprehensive and coordinated implementation as provided for in the Cooperation Agreements of 27 September 2012 and the outcomes of the Heads of State summit report of 5th January 2013," the statement carried by state media said.

The Sudanese foreign ministry, in the statement, also stressed that the implementation of the agreements "is to be comprehensive, in a coordinated manner and without selectivity or conditionality".

"The Government of the Sudan is willing and resolved to continue positively the negotiations on implementation of all agreements reached by the two sides and urges the other side to honor its obligations and avoid backtracking in order to ensure smooth and unhindered implementation of the agreements," the release adds.

South Sudan President, Salva Kiir on Thursday told African leaders he is not interested in talks with Khartoum that will drag on "indefinitely".

However, Phillip Aguer, the spokesperson for South Sudan army (SPLA) has welcomed Sudan government’s commitment to the implementation of the September agreement.

"I think Sudan government’s confirmation of its commitment to enforcing the agreement is a positive and welcome idea, but these people, as you may have seen, say one thing, but their actions are usually different," Aguer told Sudan Tribune by phone.

He said the SPLA will abide by the security arrangement provided within the cooperation agreement, signed by South Sudan’s Kiir and his Sudanese counterpart, Omar Al Bashir in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

The two countries, in recent months, accused each other of cross-border attacks and amassing troops on both sides of the borders.