Sudan's Bashir to visit South Sudan

April 2, 2013 at 7:33 AM
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JUBA, South Sudan, April 2 (UPI) -- Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir is planning his first visit to South Sudan since its independence vote to discuss post-secession issues, officials said.

Bashir and South Sudanese President Salva Kiir Mayardit were expected to discuss outstanding issues between the two nations, such as the status of Abyei and other disputed border areas, the Sudan Tribune reported Tuesday.

South Sudan Information Minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin said the two leaders also would discuss the need to quickly establish Safe Demilitarized Buffer Zones to avoid accusations of border incursions and to allow people and goods to move freely between the countries.

Benjamin told the Sudan Tribune his country had expected Bashir to visit Juba Monday but the Easter holiday, the start of the Sudanese parliament and a function in Qatar delayed his arrival.

"The visit will not only open up more hopes for progress on current negotiations, especially the recent implementation matrix, but will also raise hopes for future cooperation in different areas that could be achieved by the countries," Benjamin said, without giving the new date for Bashir's visit.

In his address at the opening of the National Assembly in Khartoum, Bashir said Monday he ordered the release of all political detainees in the country, although it wasn't clear whether the decree would include those on trial for attempting to overthrow the government, the Sudan Tribune said.

Bashir said his government was committed to communications with all groups, regardless of political affiliations, to resolve issues and clear a path for reaching agreement on the new constitution.

Yassar Arman, secretary-treasurer of Sudan People Liberation Movement North, called Bashir's speech "old milk in a new bottle."

"The only new thing is that the General [Bashir] is going to release some of the political detainees while keeping the same laws that detained them and that can detain them again or detain others, and calling for the opposition to join him in an empty constitutional process that will give him legitimacy and renew his license and his political group to rule Sudan, keeping the status quo and without addressing the fundamental issues," he said.

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