Sudan Opens Border with South Sudan for First Time Since Split
Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir has opened the border with neighbouring South Sudan for the first time since the two nations split in 2011.
The move signals a major step in bilateral relations since South Sudan gained independence in a peace deal that brought an end to a bloody 22-year civil war.
South Sudan became the world’s youngest nation in 2011, upon gaining independence, but descended into a civil war of its own in 2013 – a conflict that has forced hundreds of thousands to flee to neighbouring countries, including Sudan.
Repairing broken ties
Despite the peace deal agreed between the newly split nations, their relationship got off to a rocky start with South Sudan taking three-quarters of the country’s oil. The agreement saw South Sudan claim an estimated 5 billion barrels of guaranteed reserves, getting the oil-rich nation off to a good start as an independent state.
The terms of this peace deal brought independence to South Sudan and ended conflict across the newly established border, but tensions have remained ever since. Sudan quickly closed the border with its new neighbour, which has remained a barrier against relations between the two countries for the last five years.
A positive move in the right direction
Spokesman for South Sudan’s government, Michael Makuei Lueth, has welcomed the border opening, which could demonstrate a key step in relations between the rival neighbours.
“This is a positive move in a right direction because this is what will lead to the normalisation of our relations with Sudan,” the spokesman told Reuters.
Tensions between the two countries run far deeper than oil supplies. Sudan has accused its neighbour of supporting rebel movements in Darfur against the Sudanese government – allegations which South Sudan strongly denies.