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Addis Ababa, 22 September 2012: The Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union  (AU),  Jean Ping,  looks  forward  to  the  forthcoming Summit meeting between President Omar Hassan al Bashir of  the Republic of  Sudan and President  Salva Kiir Mayardit of the Republic of South Sudan, scheduled to take place in Addis Ababa, on 23 September 2012. He would  like to encourage both Presidents to take advantage of this unique opportunity to reach agreement on the outstanding issues in the post-secession relations between their two countries. 

Over  the years,  the AU has maintained an  intense and  sustained engagement with the  Sudanese  stakeholders  and  people.   In October  2009,  the  Peace  and  Security Council  (PSC) established the AU High-Level  Implementation Panel  (AUHIP), chaired by  former  President  Thabo  Mbeki  and  including  former  Presidents  Abdulsalami Abubakar  and  Pierre  Buyoya.  This  has  represented  an  unprecedented  degree  of African engagement and assistance at the highest level.  Throughout its engagement, the AU, notably through the AUHIP, has maintained the view  that  solutions  to  the  challenges  at  hand  lie  with  the  Sudanese  people themselves. The AU also recognises that the crisis affecting Sudan and South Sudan is an African crisis, and as such, Africa has a duty to assist the two States to achieve a lasting solution.

 

It was in this spirit that the PSC, deeply concerned by the outbreak of fighting along the border between Sudan and South Sudan,  issued  its Communiqué and Roadmap of 24 April 2012,  in an effort to assist  the Parties to return to  the negotiating  table and overcome  the challenges  facing their relationship. The PSC was also concerned at the eruption of armed conflict in the “Two Areas” of Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile, which lie within the Republic of Sudan.

 

The AU applauds the manner in which the Sudanese parties managed a peaceful and credible  referendum  on  self-determination  and  the  subsequent  transition  to  the independence  of  the  Republic  of  South  Sudan.  The  AU  understands  that  this transition has presented enormous  challenges  to  the people and  leadership of  the two States: Sudan  faces both the  immediate economic challenges presented by the secession  of  the  South,  as  well  as  the  greater  and  more  strategic  challenge  of redefining itself as a nation and how it relates to its citizens; South Sudan has begun its  journey as an  independent  state, which brings with  it many  responsibilities and the necessity to give serious consideration to how  it wishes to build  its future. Both States continue to face the challenge of governing diverse societies. 

 

Whilst  these  challenges  are daunting,  the AU  is  convinced  that  this  transition  also presents significant opportunities  for the peoples of Sudan and South Sudan. Africa and  the world at  large are united  in  their support  for  the peaceful coexistence and mutual viability of both States. 

 

As  the  deadline  specified  by  the  PSC  Roadmap  and  endorsed  by  United  Nations Security  Council  resolution  2046  (2012)  approaches,  the  AU  is  fully  aware  that difficult decisions must be made by both sides to finalise negotiations on their post-secession relations. 

 

The  AU  stresses  that  national  leadership,  especially  at  historic  moments  such  as these,  carries  the  burden  of  decision-making.  The  decisions  on  issues  of  profound significance  to  citizens  and  governments  are  undoubtedly  difficult  and  can  involve painful  choices. Nonetheless,  recognizing  the  long-term  imperative of building  two viable States, good neighbours and at peace with one another, and maintaining the close  relationships  between  the  peoples  of  Sudan  and  South  Sudan,  the  AU  is confident  that  the  leaders will  rise  to  the occasion and  leave a  legacy of peace  for generations to come.  

 

Posted by Tchioffo Kodjo

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