President Al Bashir in Juba

The leaders of Ethiopia, Uganda and Kenya have visited Juba as part of the efforts to mediate between the two sides in the tragic fighting in South Sudan. President Al Bashir had mandated his first Vice President to participate in the IGAD emergency meeting and declared full support for the recommendations.

The Sudanese Foreign Minister has visited Juba. The Sudan has sent a planeload of humanitarian aid to those displaced and all states neighbouring South Sudan have made preparations to help those who cross the border. This is the context of President Al Bashir's present visit to Juba.
It goes without saying that the Sudan has many reasons to be concerned about instability in South Sudan. Our economies are interlinked not only by oil. Thousands of families in the Sudan have relatives and in-laws in South Sudan. After all we were one country until 2011.
The wish to see stability is one of the main factors that convinced Khartoum to sign the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005. Peace was quite rightly seen as a prerequisite to development, because the two civil wars have devastated both North and South. The lack of proper development in the North (e.g. in Darfur and the East) took place because the civil wars (which began in 1955 four months before our independence!) swallowed up a great deal of every budget. Little was left for development projects. That paved the way for grievances that led to armed rebellion and a wave of destruction of property and infrastructure. Foreign powers with their own anti-Sudan agenda found allies and cash strapped proxies among some of the rebel groups.  One group has got an office in Tel Aviv.
The two civil wars also confirmed the genuine desire of Southerners (later expressed in the Referendum) to have a state of their own.
The Sudan is not taking sides in the present tragic internal dispute and fighting. Its only desire is to see stability restored; an aim which the
Sudan shares with the international community and with countries that have special investments or interests like China and the US. This is the context President Al Bashir's visit, which takes place as a continuation of previous visits.

Khalid Al Mubarak
Date: 08/01/2014

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