By Deng Machol
The African Union says it has completed the first phase of marking crossing points that will ease movement and trade along the South Sudan – Sudan border.
The marking exercise is in line with the directives issued by the African Union High Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) as well as the Joint Political and Security Mechanism (JPSM) of the both countries, according to AU Border Program.
In the press statement AU says the first phase is noted by marking three of the ten crossing points along the corridors of the Safe Demilitarized Border Zone between the two sisterly countries.
In 2013, South Sudan and Sudan agreed to open ten crossing points that would include roads, rails and river corridors.
The marking was done by African Union Border Program (AUBP), through its technical team (AUBPTT).
“The marking of the corridors signifies an important milestone in the implementation of the Cooperation Agreement between Sudan and South Sudan,” the statement said.
“The main objective of the marking exercise is to make a conclusive technical determination about where the SDBZ center-line is on the ground to enable the parties to withdraw their forces within the zone and to facilitate the free movement of people and formal trade between the two countries,” it said in part.
However, the Commission of the African Union expresses its appreciation and gratitude to the Governments of Sudan and South Sudan for their engagement, cooperation and support in facilitating the marking of the three crossing points along the corridors of the SDBZ.
“The Commission wishes to assure the two countries of AU’s commitment to assist them in marking the remaining border crossing points of the SDBZ,” it added.
The border program was established as part of AU’s efforts to enhance capacities for structural conflict prevention in AU member states.
Its main objective is the promotion of peace, security and stability through its three pillars: Delimitation and demarcation of borders, cross-border cooperation and capacity building.
South Sudan attained independence from Sudan in July 2011 after a referendum, becoming the world’s newest country.
Although, the two sisterly countries has politically separated, they still have loggerhead over the border issues, resulted in silent fighting for annexation.
Last week, Sudan government closed its border crossing point with South Sudan at Joda due to the border dispute. Hundreds of South Sudanese citizens were reportedly stranded in Joda crossing point.
South Sudanese communities along the border in the Upper Nile State were voiced concerned about the establishment of a border checkpoint, calming that their land is annexed to Sudan.
The establishment of the border point is part of the implementation of the 2012 Cooperation Agreement on trade between South Sudan and Sudan.
The exercise was done by tripartite committee composed of representatives of South Sudan, Sudan and the African Union recently indicated a number of zero points on the borders for establishment of corridors.