Addis Ababa, 11 February 2012: The Chairperson of  the Commission of  the African Union (AU), Jean Ping, welcomes the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Non-Aggression and Cooperation between  the Government of  the Republic of Sudan  (GoS) and the Government of  the Republic of South Sudan  (GoRSS) at  the  Joint Political and Security Mechanism (JPSM) meeting held in Addis Ababa, on 10 February 2012. The JPSM also agreed to a number of other decisions regarding security relations between the two countries and along their common border.  

The MoU  was  signed  by  1st  Lt.  Gen. Mohamed  Atta  Elmula  Abass,  Director General for National Intelligence and Security Services, on behalf of the GoS, and Major General Thomas Duoth Guet, Director General for General Intelligence Bureau, on behalf of the GoRSS, in the presence  of  the  Chairperson  of  the  AU  High-Level  Implementation  Panel  (AUHIP),  former President Thabo Mbeki. 
The JPSM was established  in 2011, as the first  inter-governmental mechanism between the Sudan and  the newly-independent Republic of South Sudan. Meeting at ministerial  level,  it addresses  security  concerns between  the  two  countries  in order  to  foster  confidence  and reduce the likelihood of security issues escalating into conflict.  This was the second time the JPSM had met. 
The MoU on Non-Aggression and Cooperation  includes a commitment by the two states to respect each other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, a commitment to non-interference in  the  internal affairs of  the other  state and  the  rejection of  the use of  force, as well as a commitment to equality and mutual benefit, and peaceful coexistence. In the context of the heightened tension between the two countries, the Chairperson of the Commission stresses that the speedy and full  implementation of the MoU will make a significant contribution to promoting peace and reducing the likelihood of conflict.

In  addition  to  the MoU,  the  two  states  also  adopted  a  number  of  decisions  on  steps  to reduce tension along their common border. They agreed to the immediate activation of the Joint  Border Verification  and Monitoring Mission  (JBVMM), which would  have  the  task  of monitoring  the  Secure  Demilitarized  Border  Zone  (SDBZ)  between  the  two  countries  and investigate any allegations of violation by the two states. The two states also agreed to the establishment  of  mechanisms  and  procedures  to  investigate  allegations  and  counter-allegations against either state  in areas beyond  the border. Furthermore,  they agreed  that the next meeting of the JPSM would be held in Juba on 8 March 2012. 
The Chairperson of the Commission would  like to recall that the JPSM  is not the only  inter-state mechanism between the two states that  is working to reduce tension between them. The Abyei Joint Oversight Committee (AJOC), which is mandated to address security matters in Abyei as part ofthe Agreement on Temporary Arrangements  for the Administration and Security of  the Abyei Area, also  facilitated by  the AUHIP, has held  three meetings  to date. Together with the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA), the AJOC, of which the AU is a member, has succeeded  in  reducing  tensions  in  the Abyei Area. The Chairperson calls on the  international community to extend support to the two states to  facilitate the return of displaced persons to Abyei. 
The  Chairperson  of  the  Commission  expresses  his  appreciation  to  the  AUHIP,  its  Chair, former President Mbeki,  its other members,  former Presidents Abdulsalami Abubakar  and Pierre Buyoya, and the support team, for their tireless work  in promoting peace, prosperity and mutual viability between Sudan and South Sudan, and in facilitating the negotiations of all outstanding issues in their post-secession relations.  
The  Chairperson  of  the  Commission  calls  on  both  parties  to  redouble  their  efforts  in  the round  of  negotiations  starting  on  12  February  2012,  to  reach  an  agreement  on  all outstanding  issues.  He  also  calls  on  the  international  community,  which  has  provided significant support  to  the efforts of  the AUHIP,  to continue  to stand by  it, as we enter this next critical phase in the relations between the two countries.  

Posted by Tchioffo Kodjo

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