UN: 'significant' progress in North and South Sudan's separation

UNITED NATIONS: The top United Nations (UN) envoy in Sudan on Wednesday said that both the North and South have made "significant" progress on a wide range of follow-up arrangements between the two States following the southern region's vote for independence.

"Much of the ground work has already been completed," Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's Special Representative Haile Menkerios told the Security Council. "Both parties are engaging seriously and making progress."

Menkerios also cited that agreements in principle included open borders, good neighborly relations, non-interference in each other's affairs, a framework for non-aggression and military cooperation, citizenship, residency and property ownership.

The two sides are also working towards mutually beneficial arrangements on oil revenue sharing and other economic matters, Menkerios added.

On February 7, an announcement released the official results of the South's referendum showing that an overwhelming majority opted for secession from what until now has been Africa's largest country.

The vote was the culminating point of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) ending two decades of civil war between the North and the South that killed some 2 million people and drove an estimated 4.5 million others from their homes. Menkerios noted that "against the odds" the Sudanese Government not only contributed to holding the referendum but accepted its outcome.

In addition, Menkerios noted that both sides have committed to resolve by the end of March the status of Abyei, an area straddling northern and southern Sudan, that was due to have voted in a separate but simultaneous referendum on which side it would join. But a referendum commission has yet to be established there, and there is still no agreement on who would be eligible to vote.

As for the future of the 10,500-strong UN Mission in Sudan, Menkerios said the South has indicated it would welcome UN engagement to consolidate peace and capacity building of the new State's institutions, while discussions are continuing with the North on areas where they may seek future cooperation with the UN.

In a presidential statement, the Council called on the international community to lend its full support to help all Sudanese people build a peaceful and prosperous future, saying it looked forward to welcoming an independent South Sudan as the UN’s 193rd member after its expected formal declaration of independence on July 9.


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