South Sudan's president extends visit to Khartoum as the two nations agree to end rebel support
November 4, 2014 (Sudan Tribune)
South Sudan's president, Salva Kiir Mayardit, fell as he was boarding his airplane, following the end of official talks with his Sudanese counterpart president Omar Hassan al-Bashir, in Khartoum on Tuesday.
Eyewitnesses told Sudan Tribune that president's aides then appeared to help him onto the airplane before he was taken again to a car. Multiple sources stressed it was a minor incident caused by the president's shoe, saying he was not hurt.
Sudanese security agents quickly confiscated the cameras of journalists covering the visit of the South Sudanese leader and forced them to delete images of the fall.
Senior officials in both governments, including ambassador Mutrif Siddig, Sudan's envoy to South Sudan, said that Kiir may not return to Juba on Tuesday as earlier planned. However, they blamed an aircraft fault for the delay.
Siddiq stressed that Kiir is in good health condition and he walked out of the aircraft on his feet.
The information office at South Sudan embassy in Khartoum denied rumours about deteriorating health condition of president Kiir, saying he is currently in his place of residence at Corinthia Hotel in Khartoum.
In a press release, it said that the visit was extended due to a technical fault with the aircraft, stressing Kiir will depart for Juba on Thursday morning by another plane.
Meanwhile, the two presidents agreed to resolve the outstanding security issues and stop support and harbour for rebels from both countries besides, agreeing to form a joint committee to seek to cancel Sudan's foreign debts.
In a press conference held at Khartoum airport, Bashir expressed hope that South Sudan sees stability, stressing his country will continue to work to ensure the success of the initiative launched by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to achieve peace in South Sudan and prevent internationalisation of the ongoing conflict.
He said that the visit made significant achievements in spite of its short duration, pointing they discussed all common issues between the two countries.
"[Armed] with will and determination, we will carry out what we have agreed upon because it resolves many problems suffered by the two countries", he said
Kiir, for his part, expressed satisfaction with the outcome of his visit to Khartoum, saying he was warmly welcomed by Bashir.
"We held fruitful talks on outstanding issues particularly the cooperation agreement which we committed ourselves to implementing it, and we will also work on other issues. We want both states to proceed forward as twin countries that support each other and address all economic and security problems," he said.
Since March 2014, the South Sudanese defence minister, Koul Manyang, agreed with his Sudanese counterpart Abdel Rahim Hussein to operationalise the buffer zone and to deploy the joint monitoring teams.
The visiting president further pointed to the formation of a joint committee to lead efforts to cancel Sudan's foreign debt, announcing the launch of a joint campaign to lift economic sanctions imposed on Sudan.
Kiir said the joint ministerial committee will start its work as soon as possible, saying "we are able to overcome obstacles facing us".
According to the closing statement of the talks, they also agreed to name the head of the joint administration for Abyei, underscoring Sudan's role to mediate between the warring parties in South Sudan.
The two presidents instructed the joint committees to immediately meet to resume implementation of the cooperation agreement and submit their reports to presidential summit through the joint higher committee.
The statement also mentioned that the Joint Political and Security Committee (JPSC) will meet during this month to activate implementation of the security arrangement agreement and determine the baseline for the demilitarised security zone (zero line) between the two countries according to the AUHIP plan.
It also pointed to the activation of the mechanisms agreed upon to stop support and harbour rebel groups on both sides in preparation for the opening of the 10 border crossings between the two countries.
The two presidents also acknowledge the need to activate the mechanisms on citizenship and trade according to the cooperation agreement, stressing continuation of oil production in Adareel and fulluj oilfields in South Sudan besides restoring production from Unity oilfields.
Unity state changed hands several times between the rebel and government forces. The insecurity in the region led to stop oil production outside Bentiu.
Khartoum is affected by this decrease of the oil exported through its pipelines as the South Sudan produces now less than half of the 350,000 barrels per day.
The South Sudanese political activist, Steven Loual, described Kiir's visit to Khartoum as "very successful", saying the summit discussed in details the pressing security issues, particularly the situation in Abyei and harbour and support of rebels from both countries.
He told Sudan Tribune that the two presidents directly discussed ways for resolving outstanding issues to realise the common interests, pointing that president Kiir is keen to achieve peace in South Sudan despite obstacles made by his opponents.
Bashir and Kiir will participate in the upcoming Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) special meeting on South Sudan in Addis Ababa on Wednesday.
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