South Sudanese President Salva Kiir offered to mediate a political transition in Sudan after the fall of autocratic president Omar al-Bashir, Kiir’s office said.
The move comes seven months after Bashir helped mediate a shaky peace deal between Kiir and opposition rebel group in South Sudan, which won independence from Sudan in 2011 after decades of conflict.
Bashir, who seized power in a 1989 coup, was toppled last week by the military, which vows free elections within two years, though protesters remain active demanding an immediate handover to an interim civilian authority.
Kiir was ready to support “democratic aspirations” of his former adversary in Khartoum and help bring about a peaceful transition.
“The president offered to mediate ongoing negotiations among various groups in Sudan in the hope the transition will usher in a new day in Sudan…,” a statement from Kiir’s office said.
South Sudan’s petroleum minister told Reuters he travelled to Khartoum to meet the new leadership, alongside a high-level delegation including Juba’s security service chief and a presidential security adviser.
Sudan’s south won statehood after almost half a century of civil war, marked by mass abduction and enslavement of children, scorched earth tactics, ethnic cleansing and famines.
The loss of South Sudan cost Sudan much of its oil reserves, a heavy economic blow to the impoverished country.
While the divorce was acrimonious, the two countries remain closely tied.
“Juba is concerned about vested interests in Sudan. Despite being old foes, the two regimes are tightly enmeshed,” said Alan Boswell, a senior analyst with Brussels-based think tank International Crisis Group.
“Sudan needs South Sudan’s oil flows and South Sudan’s political deals often run through Khartoum.”
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