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Africa

Border demarcation critical ahead of Sudan referendum, says expert

media Satellite picture of Khartoum ISS Crew Earth Observations

An international conflict prevention think-tank says North and South Sudan must take political action to define their mutual border if they hope to avoid future complications and a return to conflict.

The International Crisis Group says the still undefined boundary line has hindered implementation of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, and fuelled mistrust between its two signatory parties.

The accord called for the border between the North and the semi-autonomous South to be demarcated within six months but five years later, the task remains unfinished.

Zach Vertin, the ICG's Horn of Africa Analyst said both North and South should prioritise border demarcation despite being pressured by interest groups on either side.

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Zach Vertin, Horn of Africa Analyst at the International Crisis Group 03/09/2010 - by Billie O'Kadameri Listen

He said that the border dispute was no longer a task for the technocrats but should be handed over to the political elites in Khartoum and Juba.

“We are glad to see a new committee formed early this week at the high level between the NCP [the National Congress Party] and the SPLM [Sudan’s Peoples Liberation Movement] who have committed to take this issue on”, said Vertin. “I think it’s got to be taken on at the political level.”

He explained that there were a number of “strategic reasons” that border demarcation had been delayed with the added complication that much of the oil was in the south and much of the infrastructure to exploit that oil in the north.

Southern Sudan is set to hold a referendum on whether it should remain part of Sudan in Januray 2011.

 

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