African Union (AU) Commission chair, South Africa’s Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, has commended both Sudan and South Sudan for efforts to date in meeting the tight timelines set for the safe demilitarised border zone (SDBZ) to become operational.
Earlier this week an extraordinary meeting of the joint political security mechanism between the two countries in Addis Ababa saw progress on this aspect of normalising relations between the new state and Sudan.
During the meeting, the UN Interim Security Force in Abyei (UNISFA) Force Commander, General Yohannes Tesfamariam, provided a progress report on implementation of the security agreements. Both parties have met obligations with regard to withdrawal to their side of the border and national monitors are in the process of being airlifted to the Joint Border Verification Monitoring Mechanism (JBVMM) Headquarters in Kadugli.
Both parties have also given assurances that monitors from the other state will be able to operate in their respective territories without hindrance, an AU statement said. The UNISFA Force Commander also expressed his conviction that further progress will be made in the coming days.
Dlamini-Zuma also commended UNISFA for its continued work in support of Sudan and South Sudan. “It has been instrumental in ensuring the success achieved to date,” she said.
She also called on the UN Security council to give its full support to the process and asked it to authorise an additional 1 126 personnel, including support elements requested by INIFSA, to facilitate force protection for JBVMM monitors.
The meeting, facilitated by Abdusalami Abubakar, a member of the AU high level implementation panel for Sudan and South Sudan, was co-chaired by South Sudan Minister of Defence, General John Kong Nyuon, and his Sudanese counterpart, first Lieutenant General Abdel Raheem Mohammed Hussein.
“Actions taken to date are important steps in building the necessary confidence between the two states, leading to normalisation of the relationship and based on a shared commitment to build a pair of viable states,” Dlamini-Zuma said.