Mbeki still active in Sudan
Over the weekend, the Sunday Times reported that the office of President Zuma is attempting to “clip the wings of his globe-trotting predecessor Thabo Mbeki, complaining that his travels to war-torn Sudan are expensive and ‘unsustainable.'”
Mbeki has been leading an African Union High Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) established to oversee elections and the recent referendum in Sudan, in which Southern Sudanese voted to establish an independent state. The Sunday Times article reports that Mbeki’s travels between April 2009 and October 2010 have cost South African taxpayers R20.5-million.
Government, however, quickly responded to these claims in a statement released by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) on Monday. DIRCO notes that Mbeki was initially appointed, alongside a number of other eminent experts and leaders, to “undertake an in-depth study of the situation in Darfur and submit recommendations on how best to effectively and comprehensively address the conflict in this region of Sudan.”
Subsequently, DIRCO adds, in June of 2010,
“the partners to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), the National Congress Party (NCP) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) agreed that the negotiations over the outstanding post-referendum issues should be facilitated by the AUHIP, led by former President Mbeki and supported by the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD). Whilst the January 2011 referendum on self-determination of Southern Sudan was held peacefully and resulted overwhelmingly in favour of the secession of South Sudan, the post-referendum issues have yet to be agreed upon by the parties to the CPA.”
According to the Department, Mbeki’s mandate and work therefore has not yet concluded, but will be reviewed by the AU following South Sudan’s declaration of independence, which is expected to take place in early July.