Two Sudans Strike Deal to Demilitarise Border
Sudan and South Sudan have agreed a deal to demilitarise their shared border, after years of negotiations.
The deal was signed at a session of the Joint Political and Security Mechanism (JPSM), in Addis Ababa, on Wednesday. It comes after three years of negotiations surrounding the border that separated the two countries only four years ago.
Three year delay
An initial deal to create a Safe Demilitarized Border Zone (SDBZ) was first agreed, after the signing of a security agreement, in September 2012. However, disagreements over security concerns has delayed the zone’s implementation.
South Sudan had previously voiced concerns that creating a demilitarised zone through contested areas could impact the permanent border of the newly independent country. These concerns appear to have been addressed, though, after the two nations agreed on a map for the zone, as proposed by the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) in 2011.
A long awaited agreement
“The Parties agreed to activate all the mechanisms relating to the JPSM as provided for in the relevant agreements, in particular the JBVMM in coordination with the UNISFA (of Abyei area),” said a statement released on Wednesday.
The statement also confirmed an SDBZ will have no impact on the geographical or political border between the countries; it will “represent only the location of the separation line between the armed forces of the two states.”
The deal says a Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism (JBVMM) will monitor the demilitarised zone to ensure the terms are upheld. Sudanese Defence Minister, Awad Ibnauf, hailed the deal as a breakthrough moment for the neighbouring nations, claiming it will “open up the door for cooperation between the two countries”.
“A young girl hangs the South Sudan flag (5925619011)” by USAID Africa Bureau – A young girl hangs the South Sudan flag. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.