AU Gives Sudan, South Sudan 90 Days to Reach Peace Deal

The scene following a bombing by the Sudanese Air Force in Bentiu, South Sudan, April 14, 2012.
The scene following a bombing by the Sudanese Air Force in Bentiu, South Sudan, April 14, 2012.

The African Union on Tuesday gave Sudan and South Sudan 90 days to settle their disputes over oil, citizenship and boundary issues or face binding international arbitration.  But, the ultimatum came amid more talk of war and an increase in border hostilities.

A ministerial-level session of the AU Peace and Security Council threatened to abandon its high-level Sudan mediation process unless the talks begin to show results.

The ultimatum signaled the continental body's frustration at the breakdown of negotiations led by former South African President Thabo Mbeki.  The Mbeki panel talks collapsed this month as fighting erupted along the Sudan-South Sudan border.

Commissioner Ramtane Lamamra said that if the warring parties fail to resolve their disputes within three months, the  panel would be disbanded.  He said outstanding issues would then be settled by an unspecified arbitration process.

"Three months from now, the panel will be ending its mission by either bringing the parties to agree, to sign and to implement all that is needed to resolve all the issues at hand or by formulating a comprehensive report for the Peace and Security Council to endorse it, for the international community to support it as binding and final," said Lamamra.

But before the council's communique was issued, Sudan and South Sudan were suggesting that more talks about oil and borders were not the answer.

Sudan's Foreign Minister Ali Karti said that fighting must stop before talks can take place.

"We need focusing on problems on the ground," said Karti. "If on a daily basis our borders are attacked from within South Sudan, this couldn't be accepted.  Talking about other issues like oil revenues, like borders - yes, these are important issues.  But these are not the issues that will take both parties to an escalating war."

Karti rejected calls for an end to Khartoum's aerial bombing campaign, calling it a legitimate act of self-defense.

"If you have an action, you should have a reaction," he said. "It is in international law of the Security Council itself and of the U.N. itself that I have the right of self defense.  If somebody is attacking me on daily basis, what should I do?"

South Sudan's Minister of Cabinet Affairs Deng Alor suggested it is time to move past the Mbeki mediation process.  VOA obtained a copy of Alor's speech to the Peace and Security Council in which he said, “[I]t will not be enough to return to negotiations as they were.”

Speaking to reporters afterward, Alor suggested that the Mbeki panel has too little authority to force the warring neighbors to settle contentious issues.

"The only thing we said is the mediation mechanism has to be enhanced," said Alor. "It has to be supported by the international community, so that it moves ahead."

Alor accused Khartoum of using allegations of southern aggression as a pretext for avoiding negotiations.

"The government of Sudan was saying they would only go back to negotiations if the security issue is resolved, meaning that we in South Sudan admit that we are supporting rebellion in South Kordofan, in Blue Nile and Darfur - something we are not doing," he said.

A South Sudanese military spokesman reported that Sudanese warplanes continued their attacks this week, even after the south withdrew troops from a strategic oil center captured earlier this month.

The bombing runs intensified after the South Sudan stopped pumping oil through Sudan in January, accusing Khartoum of stealing hundreds of millions of dollars of oil revenue.   

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugeesi
Henry Ridgwell
October 08, 2015 8:02 PM
Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs