24 March 2011 - Sudan's Minister of Defense and the Minister of Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) Affairs of the Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS) reached an agreement on a number of security issues in Juba yesterday.
According to an African Union High-level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) communiqué, Defense Minister Lt. Gen. Abdel Rahim Hussein and SPLA Affairs Minister Nhial Deng Nhial inked a protocol related to post-referendum security issues affecting northern and southern police services and the National Intelligence and Security Service.
The mediating body AUHIP refrained from disclosing details of the agreement on the grounds that other security matters concerning the national government in Khartoum and the regional government in Juba are still under discussion.
Those unresolved security issues include: the definition of a security zone along the border; extension of the UNMIS mandate; the fate of Joint Integrated Units and SPLA forces in and from Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states; and the status of Southern Sudanese soldiers serving with the Sudan Armed Forces.
AUHIP chairperson Thabo Mbeki arrived in Khartoum on 17 March after the Sudan People's Liberation Movement Secretary General Pagan Amum threatened to walk out of ongoing post-referendum talks on account of increased fighting in various parts of Southern Sudan.
In recent weeks, armed militia groups aligned with a Captain Olonyi and the renegade SPLA general George Athor have clashed with SPLA forces in the greater Upper Nile region.
Mr. Amum accused Khartoum of arming the rebels to destabilize the south ahead of its separation from the rest of Sudan scheduled for early July, but senior government officials in Khartoum adamantly denied any involvement in the fighting.
"That matter (of suspended negotiations) has been addressed and all of the outstanding negotiations will now proceed," former South African President Mbeki told a news conference in Khartoum.
In addition to the unresolved security arrangements, the resumed negotiations are expected to address the future of the disputed Abyei area, citizenship issues, the north-south border, and wealth sharing between Sudan and a sovereign, independent South Sudan.