AU gives Sudans 6 weeks to resolve dispute

2012-10-25 14:08

Addis Ababa - The African Union Security Council has given Sudan and South Sudan six weeks to reach a deal on the flashpoint state Abyei, officials said on Wednesday.

"Council requests the two parties to engage each other... seeking to reach consensus on the final status of the Abyei area within the period of six weeks from [today]," the AU Peace and Security Commissioner Ramtane Lamamra told reporters.

The AU also gave Sudan and South Sudan two weeks to come to an agreement on five other disputed border areas, Lamamra added.

"Council calls on the parties... to reach agreement within two weeks on the process of the negotiations for the resolution for the five disputed areas," he said.

The two former civil war foes failed to reach a deal on Abyei and other contested border regions following marathon talks between the presidents of Sudan and South Sudan in September, though both sides penned agreements on oil and establishing a secure buffer zone along the disputed border.

Lamamra commended the progress made in the latest round of talks, but urged both sides to come to a speedy solution of outstanding issues. He did not say what consequences the two sides could face if no deal is reached in the time frame set out and instead said he remained hopeful a solution could be found.


"It should be enough for the conclusion of these important matters," he said.

Talks between Sudan and South Sudan have been ongoing since Juba gained independence in July 2011. This year the two countries came close to an all-out war, prompting the United Nations to set a deadline for both sides to reach a comprehensive deal on outstanding issues.

The disputed border remains a major sticking point in the talks, as violence has erupted sporadically in several flashpoint states. Both sides accuse the other of supporting rebel groups of waging attacks.

The AU has called on Sudan to negotiate with one of the principle rebel groups, the Southern People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLMN), and on Wednesday condemned Khartoum for not moving ahead with peace talks.

"Council expresses profound regret that the government of Sudan and the SPLM-North have failed to convene direct negotiations and calls on them immediately to do so," he said.

The AU security council met at the ministerial level on Wednesday, where the ongoing crisis in northern Mali was also discussed.