Zuma plans visit to al-Bashir ahead of Sudan split

President Jacob Zuma plans to meet with Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir about unrest in the run-up to South Sudan’s independence due this weekend, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation said on Wednesday.

“Any instability in the Sudan impacts negatively on the nine countries that it shares borders with,” Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane told reporters.

“South Africa recently became concerned with the flare-up of consistent violence in Darfur, Abyei and South Kordofan,” she said.

“We are not just monitoring the situation. We are engaging. President Zuma will meet President Omar al-Bashir on Friday and all these issues will be on the table,” she said.

She did not say where the meeting would take place, but both Nkoana-Mashabane and Zuma plan to attend South Sudan’s independence celebrations on Saturday in Juba.

“It is important for South Africa to manage and maintain a consistent balance at the onset of the separation of South Sudan from the north,” she said.

South Sudan is due to split from the north on Saturday, but a number of key issues have yet to be resolved under the 2005 comprehensive peace agreement.

The northern army’s occupation of the Abyei border region and its war against southern-aligned rebel militiamen in South Kordofan, the north’s only oil-producing state, have drawn sharp criticism from world leaders. — AFP

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