Thank you Mr. President,
I thank President Thabo Mbeki and Special Representative Haile Menkerios for their comprehensive briefings as well as for the significant work they have been undertaking and I wish to congratulate them and the Governments of Sudan and South Sudan for the agreement just reached on Abyei. We hope it will allow for a quick and full cessation of violence in the area, for the reestablishment of full humanitarian assistance and for the return of the displaced population. We are encouraged by these positive developments, but they are only a first step, albeit a decisive one, towards solving the Abyei issue.
I wish also to thank Ambassador Osman and Mr. Gatkuoth for their statements.
As all members of the Council, Portugal has been deeply concerned by the rapidly deteriorating situation in several areas of Sudan. We express grave concern about the ongoing violence, namely the fighting taking place in Southern Kordofan State, causing an alarming and increasing number of displaced persons.
We fully support and encourage the efforts of President Mbeki and Special Representative Menkerios to find a quick solution to this situation and an immediate end to the hostilities.
We strongly urge the parties to prevent any further escalation of violence that could lead to new losses of civilian lives, to stop the looting, to grant unconditional humanitarian access to all and to abide by their undertakings and agreements. We encourage them to build upon the positive indications we received today in order to get the overall process on track and fulfill the objectives of the CPA.
Indeed, the latest events have threatened to tear down the common ground that enabled a successful and peaceful referendum. As we have repeatedly stated, it is our belief that it is in neither side’s interest to jeopardize all that has so far been accomplished. We strongly condemn all unilateral actions meant to create facts on the ground that would prejudice the outcome of the negotiations. We are of the view that the interdependencies between the North and the South are too deep and that the failure or success of one of them will determine the failure or success of the other. For that reason, we recall the commitments made by both sides and urge the parties to work decisively in resolving their disputes.
Dialogue and political commitment, at the highest level, is what is needed. We thus welcome the resuming of talks between President Al-Bashir and Vice-President Salva Kiir. The negotiations are complex and have to be led in a spirit of continued compromise and cooperation. This is the only path to ensure the viability of the two States. In this difficult context, the success of the mediation work of the AU High-Level Implementation Panel and its Chair, President Thabo Mbeki, appears to us more decisive than ever, as I have already stated, and we call upon the parties to continue working with the Panel in order to urgently find a durable and peaceful resolution to the status of Abyei and to continue dialogue on all the other outstanding issues.
Portugal welcomes the commitment by the Sudanese parties to establish a Common Border Zone between North and South Sudan, which is to be demilitarized and jointly monitored and patrolled. We now call upon the parties to agree on where the zone should be as well as to positively consider a third party presence along the border.
Again, we share the view that North and South would benefit from the UN’s assistance in this context.
As I have already said, we strongly condemn the recent fighting in Kadugli and Um Durein and call on both sides to exercise maximum restraint in resolving their dispute in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile States. In this regard, Portugal sees the negotiations between Representatives of the Government of Sudan and leaders of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement from the two states as a positive step. We call upon the parties to rapidly establish security arrangements for the two Areas.
Allow me also a word on the appalling humanitarian situation as a result of the violence. We are deeply concerned with the impact of escalating violence on the civilian population, including women, children and internally displaced persons. We recall that all parties to the conflict must respect and protect civilians, and ensure adequate security for humanitarian workers. Parties must remove any restrictions that could slow down their response and ensure full and unhindered access for humanitarian assistance and for UNMIS throughout the mission area. We wish also to echo Assistant Secretary General (of the Office of the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) Catherine Bragg’s appeal to the parties to allow the establishment of a humanitarian corridor between Kadugli and El Obeidallow.
I could not conclude without expressing Portugal’s strong support for the UN Mission in Sudan and to commend them for their work amidst the most difficult conditions.
I thank you.