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The Presidents of South Sudan Salva Kiir Mayardit and Sudan’s Field Marshal Omar Hassan Ahmad Al-Bashir are set to meet next week
in Ethiopia after several months of old hiatus, to resolve the ongoing tensions plaguing the two nations.
The renewed interest was made by both sides that back in September had signed in Addis Ababa, a cooperation agreement to resolve various disputes between the two sides.
The September agreement had however excluded agreement on a shared border or on how to address the disputed region of Abyei though both spent four days in an apparent effort to overcome the most contentious issues, finalizing a border and determining the status of the border region of Abyei.
Abyei is contested between the region’s Ngok Dinka people, who are settled in the area and consider themselves southerners, and Misseriya nomads who herd their cattle south in the dry season and are supported by the government in Khartoum.
The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, in a 2009 ruling, set Abyei’s borders to the area around Ngok Dinka settlements. That largely excluded the Misseriya, who say that as seasonal inhabitants of the area, they should also have the right to vote
The renewed impetus followed the visit of Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn to Khartoum this week to discuss the implementation of the nine agreements the two presidents negotiated in Addis Ababa. Prime Minister Hailemariam, who held similar discussions with President Salva Kiir in Juba, has reportedly succeeded in committing both leaders to a fresh round of dialogue at a presidential summit in Addis Ababa set for next week.
The PM after a visit with the SS President emphasized that he would continue to work with the two sides to achieve peace and stability and further added that Ethiopia is committed to continuing to work closely with the two leaders to bring peace and stability to both Sudans’.
Hailemariam also discussed with both leaders on unresolved issues like the thorny issue of the Abyei region which has some oil deposits and the implementation of the Addis Ababa Agreement particularly on the details of the 14 miles Temporary Security Zone Arrangement.
It was also reported that both leaders had committed themselves to work together on a whole host of issues in the Horn of Africa sub-region and also discussed on how Ethiopia could connect with both Sudans by way of developing infrastructures that link them.
Ethiopia has a host of agreements with both countries, including a soon to be commissioned Power transmission line project connecting Ethiopia with Sudan, as part of exporting 100 Mega Watts of electricity to Sudan, as well as various road infrastructure projects.
The country also has planned similar power export agreement with South Sudan, as well as an oil pipeline project starting from Juba and linking Ethiopia and Djibouti, with further oil exports to be done through Djibouti port.
This was the first big international diplomatic test for the new Ethiopian Premier. The role of mediation was actually transferred on to the shoulder of Hailemariam due to the unexpected death of the former Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.
South Sudan gained control of about 75 percent of the formerly united country’s 490,000 barrels a day of crude output when it declared independence from the formerly Africa’s biggest country Sudan in July 2011. China National Petroleum Corp., Malaysia’s Petroliam Nasional and India’s ONGC Videsh operate most of the oil wells in the two countries.
The border was never defined, and South Sudan suspended oil production in January after accusing Sudan of stealing its crude, which is transported in pipelines through Sudan.
Border clashes escalated in April when South Sudan troops took over an oil town in a region Sudan claims as its own.
South Sudan gained independence after a referendum based on a 2005 peace accord. The agreement was intended to end a civil war that lasted for almost 50 years, except for a cease-fire from 1972 to 1983, between the Muslim north and the south, where Christianity and traditional religions dominate. About 2 million people died in the second phase of the conflict.