South Sudan People’s Defense Forces (SSPDF) on Wednesday signed a security agreement with the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) which will allow both sides to jointly monitor security along their common border.
Gabriel Jok Riak, SSPDF Chief of Staff, said that they formed joint committee to strengthen security across their common border, and also to coordinate with the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) which is in charge of security in the region disputed by the two countries.
“We deliberated on the issue concerning Abyei and we arrived at a resolution after hearing a report from United Nations Interim Force for Abyei (UNISFA),” Riak told journalists in Juba.
In January, more than 30 civilians from the Dinka Ngor community with strong allegiance to South Sudan were killed during armed attack suspected to be from members of the pastoral Misseriya Arab tribe with ties to Sudan.
“The security will be implemented by security institutions of the two countries. We are following the same interests in trying to achieve peace between the two sisterly countries,” added Riak.
The oil-rich Abyei border area administered by Sudan remains one of the most contentious issues between Juba and Khartoum.
Attempts to settle Abyei’s status have in the past failed including, a symbolic referendum in November 2013, which was not recognized by the African Union after 99.9 percent of the Dinka Ngok voted to join South Sudan.
Riak expressed hope of the two countries achieving relative peace along their common border when the joint forces start work along the border.
Mohamed Osman Hussein, SAF Chief of General Staff, said that the Abyei issue was top on agenda during their discussions that started on Monday.
“Today we met as joint, civil, political and security committee to discuss the issue of Abyei as the top agenda,” he said.
Hussein said that Khartoum regrets the incident in late January that led to killing of civilians in Kolom area of Abyei.
He disclosed that UNISFA will continue to provide security and protection to the people of Abyei administrative area as agreed upon by the two neighboring countries.
“We will also focus on providing security in all the open border points agreed upon previously,” said Hussein.
In October 2019, the joint boundary demarcation commission between Sudan and South Sudan signed the full delimitation of the boundaries agreed upon between the two countries in the presence of the representative of the African Union boundary commission.
The two countries are contesting the border areas of Abyei, commercial Kaka, Debbat El Fukhar, Jebel Megeines, the 14-Mile area south of Bahr El Arab, Hafrat El Nukhas, and Kafia Kingi respectively. Enditem