SA to help South Sudan

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South Africa will help build Africa’s newest nation, South Sudan. Briefing the media yesterday, International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said it was South Africa’s desire to see peace, security and stability prevail beyond the declaration of independence of the South.

“South Africa views the restoration of peace, security and stability in the Sudan positively in the Horn of Africa region, and on the continent as a whole. Any instability in the Sudan impacts negatively on the nine countries that it shares a border with,” Nkoana-Mashabane said.

President Jacob Zuma will lead a high level delegation to the inaugural celebrations of independence in South Sudan, to be held this weekend. Oil-producing South Sudan is due to declare independence on July 9 from Sudan – a split approved in a referendum promised in a 2005 north-south peace deal to end two decades of conflict.

The agreement was brokered by the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel on Sudan, led by former President Thabo Mbeki. With just days to go to independence, there is still fighting in the Kordofan region, which has displaced an estimated 73 000 people.

Pretoria called on the parties to resolve the underlying issues to the conflict through political dialogue, and building on the Framework Agreement on political and security arrangements for South Kordofan, signed last week between the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM-North). Nkoana-Mashabane said South Africa has already trained more than 1 500 South Sudan civil servants and diplomats through its various programmes, including Diplomatic Training, to ensure the attainment of capacity building and skills transfer for the betterment of South Sudan. It also hopes to sign a Memorandum of Understanding in the field of agriculture.
“This should serve as an important indication of South Africa’s continued commitment to deepening relations with the Government of Sudan,” said the minister. A growing number of South African companies like MTN – which has acquired a majority shareholding in a local mobile phone operator called Areeba – and SABMiller (Southern Sudan Beverages Pty Ltd), which established a brewery in South Sudan, are also showing interest in the new country.

Nkoana-Mashabane says South Africa will also maintain and manage a consistent balance at the onset of the separation of South Sudan from the North.

The balance, Nkoana-Mashabane said, would serve as an important indication of South Africa’s continued commitment to enhancing relations with the Government of Sudan and new relations with the Government of South Sudan, BuaNews said.