Addis Ababa, Ethiopia–On June 28, the latest round of negotiations between the governments of Sudan and South Sudan adjourned after the Sudanese delegation requested leave to conduct political consultations with President Omar al-Bashir and other key political leaders in Khartoum. The Southern negotiation team similarly returned to Juba to conduct its own consultations. The parties are expected to return to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on July 5 for three days of meetings during which they will debrief on their respective consultations and discuss next steps.
The next round of meetings will come less than one month ahead of the August 2 deadline established by the African Union Peace and Security Council, or AUPSC, and reinforced by United Nations Security Council Resolution 2046, for the conclusion of north-south negotiations. The parties’ posturing during the last round of negotiations in many ways evidences their respective views of the August 2 deadline and the urgency it poses, or not, for the pace of discussions moving forward. Khartoum and Juba’s divergent positions aside, one thing is certain: time is running short and the only viable mechanism for consolidating peace and security between the two Sudans remains the conclusion of a comprehensive agreement inclusive of all outstanding north-south issues, namely, security-related matters, the definition and demarcation of the north-south border, financial and oil issues, citizenship, and the final status of the Abyei area. As August 2 draws nearer, the question has now become, is it possible for the two Sudans to conclude a comprehensive agreement in the time that remains?