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Following a two day meeting of the Sudan and South Sudan Joint Peace and Security Mechanism (JPSM) in Addis Ababa this week, the two countries agreed to establish ten crossing points along their border, eight of which are to be opened immediately.
The meeting from 22nd -23rd April was chaired by Sudan’s Defense minister, Abdulraheem Mohammad Hussein, and by South Sudan’s Water Resources and Irrigation Minister, Paul Mayom Akec.
It was witnessed by the chairman of the African Union High Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) and in a communiqué AUHIP said the Panthou/Heglig border, which connects South Sudan’s Unity State to South Kordofan and the Babanusa-Aweil railway are to be opened with immediate effect, together with six other border crossings.
A JPSM border corridor committee is also to set up mechanisms to harmonise and coordinate activities to manage the border areas.
This comes after Sudan’s President Hassan al-Bashir’s visit to Juba earlier in this month where he agreed with President Salva Kiir on the borders to be opened to improve trade and movement between the two states.
The delegations from Sudan and South Sudan also agreed to form a Joint Security Committee to deal with rebel claims and other complaints against their agreement on non-aggression and cooperation.
The Committee will answer to the JPSM Co-chairs and is an additional mechanism for cooperation. It will be made up of the chiefs of military intelligence, and senior defense and police officers from both Sudan and South Sudan.
Its role will include investigation and verification of concerns and claims raised by either sides and establish mechanisms of dealing with them as soon as possible.
South Sudan Water Resources and Irrigation Minister, Paul Mayom, said the two countries had now created joint mechanisms to resolve their problems after months of intensive talks. He said the agreement now opened a “new page for the two countries to live together and to create very soft borders, borders which will connect the two peoples in the two countries together”.
The Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Dr. Dlamini-Zuma, has welcomed the decision to establish the border crossing points. She described the agreement as an important step and commended the continued progress of the parties in establishing two mutually viable states.