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Khartoum, Juba to set up demilitarized zone on border

October 30, 2017 at 8:00 pm

Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir (L) with South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir, [Reuters/Adriane Ohanesian]

Sudan and South Sudan have agreed to reactivate a bilateral security agreement — following a five-year hiatus — that calls for the establishment of a demilitarized zone (DMZ) along their shared borders.

The border between the two African states has remained tense due to ongoing disputes over demarcation and tit-for-tat accusations of support for rebel groups.

At a Monday joint press conference in Khartoum, Sudanese Defense Minister Ahmed Awad ibn Auf said the two countries had agreed to redeploy their forces away from the border to allow for the establishment of a 20-kilometer-wide DMZ.

“We have also agreed to open four crossing points [along the border] to facilitate the free flow of commercial goods,” ibn Auf said.

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South Sudanese Defense Minister Kuol Manyang Juuk, for his part, said the reactivation of the security agreement — and the resultant redeployments — would allow state apparatuses to focus on other aspects of bilateral cooperation.

South Sudanese President Salva Kiir Mayardit, meanwhile, is expected to pay a two-day visit to Sudan starting Wednesday.

Since South Sudan seceded from its northern neighbour in 2011, differences have continued to dog the two countries, especially over the disputed Abye region and oil transit fees that Juba pays to Khartoum.