Home | Comment & Analysis    Saturday 14 May 2011

Abyei: Predicting the future


By Tim Flatman

30 April 2011, updated 9 May 2011

Analysts have been reluctant to predict exactly what will unfold in Abyei over the coming months. On a purely human, individual level, this is entirely understandable. The region is notoriously unpredictable. No-one wants to embarrass themselves or jeopardise their reputation by making forecasts which are quickly proved inaccurate. More charitably, stakeholders naturally want to project optimism that a solution can be reached and massive bloodshed averted, rather than create a self-fulfilling prophecy of impending armageddon. Even those advocacy groups who are highlighting the dangers of genocide and/or conflict in Abyei are fairly vague as to the sequence of events which may unfold, and maintain confidence that intervention can still result in prevention of widespread violence. Strategically too, it makes sense to concentrate on CPA fulfilment, an objective speculation on potential actions outside of the CPA can distract from.

Yet it is pointlessly counter-factual to argue that CPA implementation can proceed according to the letter of the agreement. The deadline for the Abyei referendum has, after all, passed. It seems highly unlikely that a referendum will take place at all. “CPA implementation” has become a proxy for a consensual agreement on the status of Abyei, rather than for a mechanism for determining and delivering on the aspirations of the permanent residents of Abyei. If the latter was the object, we might conclude that a unilateral process was likely to adhere more closely to the letter of the CPA.

So too even the most ardent optimist must now admit there is a chance no agreement will be reached before the CPA end-date of July 9th. A more realistic assessment might conclude that this is likely. In this context it would be negligent to rule out public deliberation on what may happen over the next few months, how key stakeholders are likely to react and how a range of different external responses could shape events as they unfold.

This paper aims to make some predictions, based for the most part not on direct inside information, but on a detailed reading of the behaviour of key actors over the last few months. The “international community” is a nebulous phrase, but is used here primarily to refer to those who have led mediation efforts: the US, UN, AU, to a lesser extent the UK and other members of the Troika, and those who have a direct interest in Sudan or who are likely to have a prominent role in the recognition of South Sudan – China, Uganda, Kenya, Egypt, etc. Where “international community” is too nebulous a descriptor to be at all useful, effort will be made to clarify which parts of it are being referred to. With other actors (NCP, SPLM, Dinka Ngok, Misseriya, etc) it should be clearer who the referent is.

Diplomats and policy makers seem to have been operating under the assumption that both NCP and SPLM fundamentally want peace and will compromise on Abyei in a last-minute deal following brinksmanship from both sides. They cite the Southern referendum, whose implementation seemed so unlikely for so long, as evidence of that. If international mediators facilitate engagement between the two parties, they will come to an agreement if they want it enough - and if they don’t want it enough, it isn’t workable, this cavalier approach suggests. The role of mediators is to bring the parties together, then get out of the way. The absolute worst thing they could do is to appear to favour one of the parties. Studious impartiality, supposedly, means treating and referring to both parties in equal terms – whatever the material facts of the situation.

Diplomats must quickly wake up to the reality that Abyei is unique, and a compromise is not inevitable or even likely. There is plenty of evidence in favour of this assertion. The Republic of South Sudan’s draft transitional constitution famously includes the definition:

“The territory of the Republic of South Sudan comprises all lands and air space that constituted the three former Southern Provinces of Bahr el Ghazal, Equatoria and Upper Nile in their boundaries as they stood on January 1, 1956, and the Abyei Area, the territory of the nine Ngok Dinka chiefdoms transferred from Bahr el Ghazal Province to Kordofan Province in 1905 as defined by the Abyei Arbitration Tribunal Award of July 2009.”

It might have been hoped that this inclusion would dispel any vestiges of optimism within the corridors of power in the UN, AU and US government that the South can accept any further territorial compromise. Holding out for such an agreement has made the resolution of Abyei’s status less, rather than more likely. It also relies on the questionable assumption that the NCP would settle for whatever territorial compromise was reached, rather than accepting it at first then pushing for more land, as they have done consistently since 2005. Sadly the inclusion only resulted in international pressure through the AU to strike the language from the constitution. Any Southern acquiescence to this demand will be met by strong resistance from within South Sudan. If, as the AU suggest, the South do meet this demand, it should not be seen as a sign they are willing to compromise on territory, but simply as a desire to halt the escalation of violence so that conflict over Abyei is delayed, for reasons that shall be explored later.

President Bashir’s response to the language in the constitution similarly offered little room for compromise: “I say it and repeat it for the million times, Abyei is northern and will remain northern". He went on to threaten war, stating that the movement must submit to the will of ballot boxes “or else boxes of bullets will decide the matter.”5 This is decidedly odd rhetoric coming from the person who, in an arguable design flaw in the Abyei Protocol, had the sole responsibility for setting up a referendum commission for Abyei, but failed to do so – followed by the mass displacement of tens of thousands of Abyei residents from their homes by Northern militias, making a referendum harder to implement. The events of 1st May in Tajalei and Todach also suggest Bashir is not serious about resolving the status of Abyei through democratic means. While a counter-spin operation by the GoS has so far been successful in persuading the international community and media not to treat the incident as an act of Northern aggression, this author has seen evidence to the contrary. The events deserve a fuller treatment elsewhere, and information is still coming to light. Suffice to say here it is far more plausible that this was part of an attempt to get SAF forces and military hardware to Abyei town under the flimsy cover of being part of an (unauthorized) JIU operation. The attempt was thwarted by Southern intelligence and quick reactions. The intent was either to occupy Abyei town in a surprise attack, or to put well-equipped units in place for expected conflict in July. These actions are not compatible with a belief that the status of Abyei can and should be resolved through democratic means.

Validation of the questionable premise that Bashir’s objections to the Abyei referendum are based on a pro-democracy outlook requires acceptance of Misseriya voting rights, or at least acceptance of the idea that the question of Misseriya voting rights is a legitimate area of debate within the CPA framework. Bashir relies on the perception of disengaged outsiders that to argue to the contrary is to treat the Misseriya as somehow inferior. Yet we should recognize that the claims Misseriya and the Dinka Ngok are simply not equal and should not be treated as such. This historical accuracy of this statement was recognised by both the Abyei Boundaries Commission and the Permanent Court of Arbitration, but it is also becomes apparent when we look at how claims have been articulated by the respective communities.

A seemingly obvious, yet often overlooked point is that the claim that Misseriya should have voting rights is a very recent phenomenon. No-one suggested seasonal migrants passing through Abyei should be granted voting rights at the time the Abyei protocol was agreed. The Abyei Referendum Act, passed by Sudan’s National Assembly, does not mention the Misseriya.6 The NCP did not attempt to establish a precedent in the Southern referendum act that seasonal migrants would be able to vote in the referendum, suggesting they did not expect voting rights to be the wedge issue in setting up a commission for the Abyei Referendum Act. The Misseriya demand for voting rights has been manufactured relatively recently to provide an excuse for non-implementation of the Abyei Protocol.

Of course, not all Misseriya are seasonal migrants. Some do indeed live in Abyei. But President Bashir’s assertion is that all Misseriya should be able to vote in the Abyei referendum, and it is uncontestable that most are seasonal migrants. Furthermore, there is no way of discriminating between those who do travel through Abyei during the dry season, and those who travel through other areas but might try to vote in a referendum. Bashir knows that Southerners know this: his condition is an impossiblist demand he knows Southerners cannot possibly accept as it would allow him to effectively rig the referendum, with Misseriya who would normally have nothing to do with Abyei overwhelming the Dinka Ngok vote. (Even when considering the Misseriya families who are permanent residents of Abyei, the only way of distinguishing them from other MIsseriya in terms of voting rights is to have the 9 Dinka Ngok traditional chiefs identify them during a registration process: something the Dinka Ngok community is happy to do. While this process hardly seems ideal, no-one has suggested a viable alternative.)

Some writers will complain that I am conflating the Misseriya with the NCP in this account. To that accusation I would retort that by effectively isolating ordinary Misseriya people and preventing any work to identify their opinions and aspirations, the NCP and Misseriya leadership have left no other choice. The Dinka Ngok are again different, their claims as to their community’s demands are verifiable: it is easy to get access to go and speak to ordinary Dinka Ngok people and ask them what they want. To the Misseriya there is no equivalent access, so we cannot simply take the Misseriya leadership’s claim to speak for the community at face value. Privately, those who work directly with the Misseriya suggest current Misseriya leadership reflect an NCP whose patronage they rely on, more than the community they supposedly represent. Historians recall that the traditional party of the Misseriya is the Umma, rather than the NIF. Furthermore, the gap between the youth and leadership is widening, with many youth desiring a more settled lifestyle where fixed health, education and social provision can have a greater impact on their lives. Some suggest that Misseriya leadership, cautious of this growing gulf, have deliberately isolated their community so that much of it remains unaware of the SPLM offer of continued migratory, grazing, social and political rights post-separation, and do not form social networks with Dinka Ngok youth.

That is not to say that the Misseriya, and even the Misseriya leadership, do not have their own interests which may diverge from the NCP from time to time. Their reaction to the Abyei Referendum Act’s passing in the National Assembly remains the most theatrical presentation of their autonomy. The Abyei Referendum Act was a carefully worded document which clearly accepts the verdict of the PCA as to who could vote in an Abyei referendum, without reinforcing it. [1] Misseriya representatives walked out of the National Assembly before the bill was passed in protest. But to suggest those actions prove voting rights are a demand coming from the grassroots of the Misseriya community makes two unverifiable assumptions: first, that Misseriya leadership represents well the feelings of its community – as we have seen, an assumption that is at best unprovable and at worst entirely spurious, and second, that voting rights are the only means to achieve Misseriya aspirations.

The Misseriya had a right to feel betrayed by the NCP-led government they fought for during the war. Western Kordofan, the state in which they could be regarded as the majority tribe, was abolished and its territory merged into the considerably larger and more diverse South Kordofan state. Misseriya areas remained undeveloped. They were encouraged to look to Abyei as “their” area, which would be developed upon taking the land for themselves. Within this context, the sanctioning of a process which would remove the possibility of Abyei becoming “their” area too, must have seemed like betrayal indeed. But the recreation and development of Western Kordofan state, combined with strong guarantees that the migratory, grazing, social and political rights promised by the South will be respected, might satisfy their aspirations (and especially those of the youth who want to move away from a nomadic lifestyle) without the need to control Abyei politically. There recreation of Western Kordofan looks more realistic a proposition than it has for some time: leaders of Misseriya and Nuba tribes set up a committee in late March to reclaim Western Kordofan state, and the NCP in South Kordofan recently stated they had no objection to re-establishing Western Kordofan. Recreation should be approached with caution: Nuba are split over the issue, SPLM leadership in South Kordofan against, and much depends on where boundaries between the two states are drawn. It is also an easy giveaway from the GoS who will be looking for soft options to demonstrate they have not entirely ignored the voice of the people expressed in the upcoming popular consultation in South Kordofan. But it does suggest that there may be ways of meeting Misseriya aspirations within a North that does not include Abyei, and that voting rights, to the extent that they are an autonomous demand from Misseriya communities, are a demand conditioned by the situation the NCP have manipulated them into, rather than a demand intrinsic to their identity.
If we conclude that Bashir’s attachment to Misseriya voting rights is a ploy to prevent the implementation of a referendum in Abyei, and indeed an agreement on the status of the region, by setting a condition that cannot possibly be met, we will take a different view as to the possibility of reaching an agreement on the status of Abyei before July.

Yet as many have noted, resumption of full-scale war with the South is hardly in the NCP’s interests. Though a proxy war might be welcomed by those who see a need to save face with external backers after being outmanoeuvred into letting the South go, proxy war could easily develop into full-scale war, and full-scale war could reach Khartoum and threaten the NCP’s hold on power, when new conflicts in Darfur, rising discontent in South Kordofan and Blue Nile region, and a more professionalised and better-equipped SPLA/SSAF than previously existed are taken into account. This is a risk the NCP seem to be preparing for by their actions in Darfur: pursuing a strategy of “peace from within”, exploiting the situation in Libya to decapitate JEM, increasing attacks on Jebel Marra to weaken a divided SLA, and offering a referendum on a single region in Darfur to undermine the ideological basis of support for rebel movements – all textbook strategies developed during the war with the South. The aim being to put themselves in a position where they can focus on the southern frontier come July. But why take the risk at all?

President Bashir’s recent threat at an election rally in South Kordofan that “If they put Abyei in the constitution of the new state of south Sudan, we will not recognise the new state” is indicative of Khartoum’s high-risk strategy on Abyei. The NCP will encourage its allies to follow suit and hold back recognition, playing on the West’s desire to achieve consensus and avoid a situation where recognition and non-recognition of the South splits the world down the middle. If the NCP can successfully out-manoeuvre the US & UK into holding back on recognition of the South in July, pressure on the South to accept further compromise on the lands constituted by Abyei, and on resource-sharing, will be intensified. This is a continuation of existing Northern strategy, rather than a bold new gambit. Existing strategy relies on refusing to enforce existing agreements (constantly inventing new obstacles to implementation so this position seems less unreasonable), while utilizing and threatening further military capability to strengthen its position, and relying on the international community to put pressure on the South not to intervene.

This strategy has proved successful so far. Local reports of militia attacks on villages seemed to be confirmed by satellite imagery, yet were reported by international media as “clashes”, [2] and international condemnation has often equalized blame on both sides. South Sudan has not intervened when Southerners have come under attack in Abyei, and has consistently been the first to respond to international demands to demilitarize the surrounding areas. The US, UN and AU have persistently put options on the table which try to manoeuvre the South into accepting further territorial compromise, [3] even as Southerners complain this sets a precedent for rewarding ethnic cleansing with claims to land. [4] The NCP’s calculation that the threat of non-recognition will force the South to back down on implementation of the Abyei Protocol seems realistic, if risky, viewed in the context of recent events.

Yet it is not clear, for a number of reasons, that this decision by Southern leadership to bow to such pressure is anything more than a temporary tactic. It is in the interests of the RoSS to allow preparations for formal separation (including the publication and acceptance of a new transitional constitution) to get as far underway as possible before asserting itself in Abyei. Even if President Salva Kiir and Minister for Peace & CPA Implementation Pagan Amum no longer believe a negotiated solution is possible on Abyei, like Bashir it is in their interests to wait and present military engagement in Abyei as reluctant and a last resort. These are reasons for holding back now which will expire in July.

There are also positive reasons to suggest Northern calculations that pressure created by the threat of non-recognition will force the South to back down are wrong. The fragility of the SPLA has been persistently highlighted by international media even as forced displacement in Abyei has gone unreported, not least by a Guardian interview with Bashir in which he predicted the South would become a failed state. Regional loyalties can trump operational commands, especially in emotive cases like Abyei. Dinka Ngok recruits were some of the first to join the SPLA, shoring up John Garang’s leadership, and many in the top ranks of the SPLA feel a debt of gratitude. There is fear in the higher echelons of the SPLM/A that senior officers, many of whom are Dinka Ngok or have ties to Abyei region, could mutiny and take their soldiers to fight in Abyei even if the President of RoSS gave a direct order not to, should the North occupy Abyei when the South secedes. Individuals from other Dinka sub-tribes threaten to follow them. We should not assume that, because Salva Kiir is Dinka & the SPLM/A has often been accused of being dominated by Dinka, the splintering of the SPLA over Abyei is less likely than in Upper Nile or Jonglei. As John Luk Jok pointed out, “We [Nuer] have seven ministers and also the post of the Vice President” and ”The SPLA Chief of General Staff, James Hoth Mai, is also son of the Nuer community”. Yet it has not stopped Major General Peter Gatdet appealing to a narrative of betrayal and marginalization.

Those who believe it will be possible to stop the SPLA responding to a Northern intervention in Abyei in July should therefore consider whether Salva Kiir is likely to risk the disintegration of the SPLA, heralded by some of the communities most loyal to it, over an attempt to maintain international goodwill. But there are further reasons to believe the Southern leadership has already made its mind up on how to approach Abyei in the face of continued Northern intransigence.

The 9 Dinka Ngok Chiefdoms in Abyei are more independent of the SPLM than is often assumed. Part of the thinking behind the setting up of Abyei Civil Society following the 2008 attacks on Abyei town was that the people of Abyei needed organs through which they could express themselves and exert pressure on the UN, GoSS and GoS in situations where the national leadership of the SPLM. It is no secret that the Ngok Dinka Consultative Conference in Juba, held November 15-16, resolved that “Should the two CPA Parties fail to take positive action on the Abyei Referendum by November 30th , 2010, wethe Ngok people reserve our right to exercise self-determination as affirmed under the principles of International law” [5] and that discussions subsequently took place amongst the Dinka Ngok people themselves as to how that process could be managed. Misinterpretations of how self-determination would be outworked may have laid behind some of the Misseriya attacks on Dinka Ngok communities around the date of the referendum, especially since there was a strong desire from the grassroots in Abyei that self-determination be achieved just before or as the Southern referendum took place.

The anger and lawlessness which found expression in the events following the shooting in Abyei market of February 14 was an expression of the lack of trust civil society groups had in political leadership and youth had in elders. This author received accounts which bemoaned the SPLM’s willingness to succumb to international pressure to redeploy JIUs without solving Abyei’s problems, and which said “the Kadugli agreements destroyed our hopes”. This thinking is dissonant to that of some international mediators who seem to regard the Kadugli agreement as a basis for a wider political agreement rather than as a short-term means of de-escalating conflict.

The Dinka Ngok have had numerous opportunities to make an attempt to realize their own self-determination and the organization of the Consultative Conference and the series of petitions organized by Abyei Civil Society from 2009-10 suggest they have the organizational capacity to pull off some kind of self-determination process, even if it didn’t adhere to the strict process of a referendum. There have been no public reports of how close local communities have come to making a decision independent of the national SPLM leadership, but keen observers know the strength of feeling of local communities. Dinka Ngok have had Pagan Amum visit and Salva Kiir contact them directly to reason with them on more than one occasion since the beginning of 2011, and on each occasion have subsequently stepped back from the brink. Given the independence and strong feelings of the Dinka Ngok community, who desire self-determination as soon as possible, it seems unlikely that some form of reassurances as to future support were not given in return for a commitment not to act unilaterally before July. This does not mean that the SPLA will act pre-emptively in Abyei before July 9, but that if they did not respond favourably to any assertion made by the Dinka Ngok, and react robustly to Northern aggression post-July 9, this might be regarded by Dinka Ngok as a betrayal of any assurances given.

It seems then, we have an international community that fundamentally misunderstands both sides’ positions and has at least until now been naively optimistic about the chances of a last-minute deal, an NCP that thinks it can get away with more than it can by pursuing a high-risk strategy (based on the success of that strategy thus far), and a South that cannot meet the demands of the international community or fail to respond to Northern aggression, but will leave it ‘till the last possible moment to act decisively; a Dinka Ngok community that will not compromise further and is more independent of the SPLM than commonly assumed, and a Misseriya community whose leadership has so effectively isolated its grassroots that no-one can tell to what extent they are misrepresenting community feeling. This is a heady mix.

Having analysed the behaviour and interests of key actors, we are now in a position to make some predictions:

1. Shortly before separation of the South, the Dinka Ngok community will make it clear that they consider themselves part of the South, conducting a formal exercise to confirm this.

2. The North will try to disrupt any such process, and give Misseriya and government-backed militias tacit permission to violently occupy further stretches of Abyei, driving out the Dinka Ngok.

3. The North will use the ensuing confusion and chaos to persuade its allies to delay official recognition of the RoSS, and utilize informal networks to suggest there is still a chance of resolving the situation through political compromise if key actors like the US hold back on recognition, rather than divide the world over the issue.

4. The international community will put pressure on the SPLA not to intervene but to resolve the situation by signing a last-ditch compromise on Abyei’s borders.

5. Surprising the international community and to a lesser extent the NCP, the SPLA will reluctantly respond to Dinka Ngok calls to defend them with full force, without the consent of the international community, at the first instance up to the borders of the RoSS defined in the transitional constitution of South Sudan.

6. The international community will condemn both sides.

7. Such condemnation will be privately welcomed by the NCP, who will use it to reinforce their argument that the RoSS cannot be officially recognized until Abyei’s status is resolved.

8. Abyei will remain in a state of limbo.

9. ?

Beyond point 8, there are too many possibilities to make realistic predictions. Full-scale war is one possibility; some kind of deal on resources & the speeding up of Sudan’s reintegration into the international community is another; embarrassed withdrawal by Northern or Southern Sudanese Armed Forces following a recognition that they have risked too much and are fighting on too many fronts is another. Much depends on the outcome of initial military engagement in Abyei. It should, however, be clear that the situation described is sub-optimal. For anyone who recognizes the analysis above, and the likelihood of the events described, the questions arises: which of these outcomes are most changeable, which of the actors is most likely to change their behaviour, and how can those changes be achieved?

Earlier I claimed that the strategy the international community is following rests on a fundamental misunderstanding of each side’s positions and a belief that everything that has taken place in Abyei (including the burning of villages and displacement of tens of thousands of people in early March) thus far is brinksmanship, intended to strengthen the bargaining position of each side before an inevitable compromise in shortly before the South formally secedes. Is there, then, some possibility that when it becomes clear that that conceptual framework is wrong, the international community will shift its position? Could the international community press ahead with recognition of the South over and above the objections of Khartoum, take pressure off the South not to intervene, and refuse to condemn the South when it does so? Could such actions strip the North of the efficacy of its strategy and force it to come to a hasty deal allowing the transfer of Abyei (as defined by the PCA) to the South? Would they cause the NCP to re-evaluate the risks and rewards of their strategy? Such a course of action would require a sudden conceptual shift, and places a lot of trust in the so-called “international community” with competing, conflicting interests. Neither is it in their interests to admit past mistakes.

Another approach would be to ask what direct solidarity work interested groups and individuals could do on the ground. To counter the public relations work that presents ethnic cleansing as clashes, and equalizes blame where actions are not equal would take continuous footage and reporting from the ground. The satellite images provided by the likes of the Sudan Sentinel Project are welcome, but not sufficient to achieve this kind of aim. But if it was achieved, it might be possible to make military occupation of Abyei a public relations disaster for the GoS, to the extent which it conflicted with its goal of reintegration into the international community and hastened withdrawal.

Another approach (none of these approaches necessarily conflict, although they might appeal to different kinds of people) might be to be bolder in getting a message through to Misseriya communities that conflict is not in their interests. How would they react if they believed that their being involved in a Northern violent occupation of Abyei would precipitate SPLA action to secure the area, that the South have the muscle to do so, and that it is likely to affect their future migratory and grazing rights – currently guaranteed? What if that threat was accompanied by the promise of development in a new state of Western Kordofan, guaranteed by access rights on which the reintegration of Sudan into the international community were dependent? Would the Misseriya prioritise relations with a regime whose internal divisions are showing more by the day and which surely cannot last forever, or a community who they will always live next to, if they are provided with the means of self-reliance, politically, socially, culturally and economically?

The scope of this paper is already arguably over-ambitious, and there will be those who argue it contains too much speculation and supposition. It would be foolish to try and answer all of these questions. But if it achieves nothing else, it is to be hoped it illustrates the necessity of a public discourse over the questions of what the outcomes will be if there is no agreement before July 9, which outcomes are changeable and how.

The author is an independent campaigner based in the UK. He has previously worked for the British Labour Party and on a wide range of campaigns, especially trade union, migrant rights and solidarity campaigns. Tim’s interest in Sudan stretches back over 15 years and he has travelled extensively through South Sudan and areas bordering Northern & Southern Sudan.

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  • 16 May 2011 02:59, by mohammed ali

    Why do you want to pretend that you are neutral while you are article is full of hatred to the people of north Sudan!You are hiding your hatred behind your dislike to Basheer and the NCP.

    Your article is full of lies and misleading judgments.Atypical example is this:

    (((Even when considering the Misseriya families who are permanent residents of Abyei, the only way of distinguishing them from other MIsseriya in terms of voting rights is to have the 9 Dinka Ngok traditional chiefs identify them during a registration process: something the Dinka Ngok community is happy to do. While this process hardly seems ideal, no-one has suggested a viable alternative.)

    Yeah, the messeria who got the right to vote would be determined by the Dinka Ngok! So they will be happy with it!Sure they will happy when you give them the right to vote and the right to choose those who will vote.Trying to be intelligent, but in fact it is a very stupid way to conceal your hatred towards the misseria!

    Another example((Any Southern acquiescence to this demand will be met by strong resistance from within South Sudan. If, as the AU suggest, the South do meet this demand, it should not be seen as a sign they are willing to compromise on territory, but simply as a desire to halt the escalation of violence so that conflict over Abyei is delayed, for reasons that shall be explored later.))Are you talking in the name of southerners or trying to ignite war and instigate hatred among the messeria and the dinka ? and what benifit you will get?!

    You are lying when you say that the SAF attacked Abeyei first , while in fact the SPLA did this behind the back of its leadership and this why Silva Kiir removed Eduard Lino from Abyei who masteredmineded the attack of Abeyei

    Third example:((The events deserve a fuller treatment elsewhere, and information is still coming to light. Suffice to say here it is far more plausible that this was part of an attempt to get SAF forces and military hardware to Abyei town under the flimsy cover of being part of an (unauthorized) JIU operation. The attempt was thwarted by Southern intelligence and quick reactions. The intent was either to occupy Abyei town in a surprise attack, or to put well-equipped units in place for expected conflict in July. These actions are not compatible with a belief that the status of Abyei can and should be resolved through democratic means.))All the information is avaliable to the UN and other international comunity observers, but your hatred blinded you or you are simply an addictive lier

    Who said it is "unauthorized" It was fully authorized by both governments and the UN.The "Kadugli" agreement stipulated that JIU should be stated in Abeyei area.This is a fact and what you said is the lie.I can see your jubillation for what you called the "reaction" when the SPLA cowardly abushed 11 SAF members of the JIU. If the SAF is willing to escalate and take revenge they could and they are quite capable of doing that.Fortunately this coward "reaction" which is celeberated and instigated by people like you was condemned by the UN and the troika!I donnot know to where hatred is driving you?

    Misseria and they Dinka were living in peace and harmoney for centuries ,to the extent that Dr.Francis Deng ,the son of the historical leader described it as the "mellting pot" of Sudan.People like you with their viscious hatred spoiled this unique human relationship.

    It wont be for very long when the majority of southerners will discover that you have malaiciously sow the seeds of hatred among the people of Sudan, for your own benifit.Fortunately there are still hundreds of thousands living in the north in peace, they will continue to so, hundreds of students are still in the north and thousands are comming back.They saw the reasults of the hatred which you sow is burning the south and they are sure to find peace and security among their brothers in the north!The dawn of the truth will come very soon!

    repondre message

    • 18 May 2011 09:42, by Mr Point

      Mohammed Ali

      You have completely missed the point. Your argument has no facts. All the evidence is against you.

      (1). The Abyei area is defined in the CPA 1.1.2 as the area of the nine Ngok Dinka chiefdoms - there is no reference tp Misseriya!. The Misseria are nomads, entitled to grazing and movement, but they have no residence and no voting right. This is what is in the CPA signed by the government of (North) Sudan. Plain fact.

      (2). Only yesterday the Sudan Tribune published the full facts of the recent SAF invasion of Abyei http://www.sudantribune.com/SPLM-official-North-Sudan-attacked,38900 . The attacks which took place in the region on 1 May 2011 were part of an attempted occupation by the northern Sudanese army.

      repondre message

      • 18 May 2011 11:00, by mohammed ali


        There is no defention in the CPA for Abeyei ..at all. This why it was refered to the ABC "Abeyei Border Commission" Unffortunately they complicated things, as it was ruled in the Hague that they had exceeded their mandate.The ABC was asked to determine where is the Ngok cheifdoms, they failed to do that and made unjustified speculations which nobody asked them to do

        The misseria are not all nomades, and even nomades have some focal point to stay in.

        This what was written about the SAF and you can see according to the US and AU who was blamed for the attack!

        ""Recent actions by both parties to the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement run counter to President Bashir and President Kiir’s agreement to resolve the situation peacefully through negotiation and with the assistance of the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel. The introduction of armed forces into Abyei by both sides violates the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and recently resulted in a violent clash in which Southern forces apparently killed at least 11 members of the Northern Joint Integrated Unit," he added.This was written in Sudan Tribune. Did the 11 members of the SAF in the JIU killed themselves? you can go back to the link:



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        • 18 May 2011 11:31, by Cibaipiath Junub Sudan

          Mohamed Ali;
          This should not be a matter of debate any longer. The north and the South are in one boiling pot on one miracle cooking stone (Abyei) the area of the Dinka Ngok. The article shows realities of the writer according to his analyses and i believe the writer has matched his opinions and feelings with other readers. You are trying t default the CPA and PCA, you are trying to default the cultural hiretage of Abyiei, threatening and encraoching into Abyei by force. On the account of Abyei Bashir can be rightly quoted during the CPA, ABC, PCA and in many other occassions that the north has no legitmate claim over Abyei rather than Abyei natural resource in the ground. Leave the writer prophecy for study and wait until 9th July to see, judge and evaluate areas which this writer had lied to the media and the Public. Both north and South shall have bloody contribution 50:50 for the Abyei Ownership if that is what you want.

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    • 27 May 2011 13:25, by eye-of-an-eye

      Mohamed Ali,

      It is good to know the truth than living in the darkness, I hope that boiledup your mind, I have no doubt about this othure article. is more clear and I like it, hatred has been planted by your brothers Arabs from the first days of trade to Sudan, if you were that good friends/brothers we would have live together for other coming years, for 100% Mesiriya has no right to utter about Abyei, if they don’t settle the matter of only to request Dinka Ngok to allow them to graze and water thier animals in Abyei then they will bite sand and die with their animal in Khortoum if Bashir will not provide enough for them. Im sorry I don’t want to jump to conclusion!

      Hope u get it right.

      Im an eye of eye, I can see all the NCP plans for today and even in 100 years coming with thier criminals acts.

      ,,,,,,,,,,,,A black ungly human in his homeland but not a trader,,,,,,,,

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  • 18 May 2011 21:26, by Tim F

    Thanks to all those who engaged with the article.

    Some responses to Mohammed Ali:

    1) The first two lines of your first comment suggest hatred of Bashir, the NCP and the people of North Sudan are the same thing. My article is not motivated by hatred, but there are plenty of Northern people who hate Bashir and the NCP. They might argue hatred for Bashir springs from respect for marginalised and oppressed peoples in the North. Bashir and the people of North Sudan are not the same thing.

    2) I think you’re actually echoing my point on voting rights - that there is no-one who has the expertise to assess who out of the Misseriya are permanent residents of Abyei who have lived there for years, and who only migrate into Abyei, and who neither live in nor migrate into Abyei, who does not themselves have an interest in the region. As I said, it is not ideal for the 9 chiefs do be doing the identification, but no-one has suggested a workable alternative. If you have one, I’d love to hear it. My argument is that these kinds of issues are impossible to find a compromise on, one reason why the NCP has been able to use the issue of voting rights so effectively to delay any exercise of self-determination for the Ngok Dinka people (the primary participants in any self-determination exercise, as stated by the PCA).

    3)Others have pointed out that http://www.sudantribune.com/SPLM-official-North-Sudan-attacked,38900 rebuts any claim that Southerners are somehow to blame for the Northern attempt to occupy Abyei town on 1/5/11. The 11 soldiers who sadly died in the attempt (no doubt ordered by superiors whose lives were not themselves under threat) were not JIU according to the pictures of some of their ID cards published. It is a shame if any parts of the international community made statements reflecting the NCP account of what happened before the full facts came to light, especially since there were so many obvious flaws in the NCP account (eg it doesn’t explain why no-one in Abyei town had been given notification that troops were arriving, or why there was a simultaneous attack on Tajalei).

    4) I totally agree that Misseriya and Dinka Ngok communities were able to work out their differences themselves for generations before the involvement of the GoS. A large part of my article aims to show that ordinary Misseriya people should not necessarily be thought to agree with Bashir’s warmongering over Abyei, and that we should not assume that Misseriya leadership speak for the average Misseriya person (to the extent that there even is an "average" Misseriya person). This gives the Misseriya people a lot more credit than articles which assume that NCP speak for all Misseriya. I argue that it is a great pity that the kind of work that has been done identifying the aspirations of ordinary Dinka Ngok people has not been possible with the Misseriya because of deliberate attempts to isolate them by their leadership. Is it really sowing seeds of war to give the Misseriya people more credit than I give their leadership?

    5) I agree with you that the Misseriya are not all nomads, and that nomads tend to (although not always) have a focal point. Misseriya have every right to feel let down by the GOS’s failure to provide adequate development assistance at Muglad, and I hope that in the future the international community are able to assist the Misseriya, so that those who do not want a nomadic way of life have adequate facilities in Muglad, and those who do want it can enjoy freedom of movement whatever the future status of Abyei.

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    • 19 May 2011 19:15, by mohammed ali

      In response to Tim,

      1- No I don’t suggest that hatred to Bashir, NCP and the people of the north is the same thing. My writing is very clear. You are trying to hide your hatred to the people of the north, behind your pretention to hate Bashir and the NCP.You are trying to conceal your hate to northerners in general by attributing it to political differences.

      Very few people hate the NCP or Bashir. Many have very big differences with both of them and there is a huge difference between hate and political difference.You can easily find in one family in north sudan who are have different political views , many friends who oppose each other politicaly, but no hate.We don’t hate in the north!

      You are trying to say Bashir and the NCP are making the problem in Abeyei and that the Messeria tribe has no interest in Abeyei.This not true. This is wrong! Even if the NCP or Bsheer decided to annex Abeyei to the south, be sure that the Meseria are going to fight both the SAF and the SPLA.They said it clearly to Embeiki and to Gration. Bashir and the NCP have no say in Abeyei!

      Marginalization is a very misleading word which is overused malaciously.What about the Meseria; aren’t they marginalized people? Why are you against them and implying that they belong to Mujlad where you suggest that they should remain t, as you think they don’t belong to Abeyei!What about southerners , now in your SPLA paradise, aren’t they marginalized?!Why thousands and thousands are coming back to the north after being repatriated to the south by the SPLA, through threats and intimidation.Are they coming to be "oppresed" and "marginalized" as you claim?! Or aren’t they opressed and marginalized in their new oil rich country when half of them are starving and dying of insecurity needlesly on daily basis! Yo cannot claim that people are not marginalized and opresed in a country where it’s minister of finance say that there are $ 2 BILLIONS not accounted for, and I don’t and cannot comperhend how your support such a state! Or is because you simply you hate us others look better for you?Or may be you are getting you fair share from these billions!

      2- Am not echoing your point! Actually you are repeating your point in a different language; and that is: those who have voting rights from the messeria should be determined by the Dinka, why? because there is no alternative! Forget about me, NCP or Basheer; do you think the messeria will accept this suggestion?! You are wrong if at-all you know something about the messeria. As I said before, messeria alone will fight both governments if they were not treated justly.

      3- Nobody claimed that the northern army was trying to occupy Abeyei . This claim didn’t come from the SPLA, UN, US, AU OR UNMIS. It is all your invention, and a product of hatred! I haven’t seen any sadness in your first article of these soldiers, actually you were celebrating and defending what you called justifiable " reaction". There was no order to occupy Abeyei from any superior or inferior officer , wheather his life was under threat or not. This is invention and invention of news is a lie! That some of the killed soldiers had different ID cards, and the way you are putting it showes again it is your invention and it is a lie! Again , you allowed yourself to make a judgment about "NCP" soldiers and not only a statement and you deny to all the international community on the field to make a statement. I tried to find and explanation, but there was non; except hatred......You seem to have all the details supporting your postion while you are saying nothing should be said, as all is under investigation.Isn’t that rediculous!

      4- You pretend to agree with me to come to the wrong conclusion! It is not the involvement of the GoS , it is the involvement of the SPLA.It is the involvement of people like you which spoiled the life of both the Dinka and Messeriya! The SPLA politicized all disputes between the messerya and the Dinka.The SPLA used to stop and kill the messeriya when they go south, the Dinka didn’t stop or fight with them.They claim they are carrying weapons, Well they were carrying weapons for centuries. Who is not carrying arms now in the south? Could you or the SPLA guranttee their safty when they go south?!

      Why should you assume that the misserya leadership does not speak for the "average" messeriya? Why are you making this assumption, on what ground, on what basis and who are you to make this assumption?! Who gave you this right?!

      What credit you are talking about,and what work you are talking about! You want to give to the Dinka, and take from the Messeriya. You claim that the messeryia are isolated by their leadership and YOU want to isolate them from their leadership to achieve for the Dinka their inspiration. YOU complain about the intereference of the GOS and you allow yourself to interfere and determine for the Dinka and fulfil for them their inspiration, and what did you leave for the "average" messeriya? It is just rediculous! Who are you any way?! Do you think that you are more intelligent or more educated than the messeriya leadership, or do you think that they are that stupid?!Or are you cheating yourself?! Because you can’t cheat them with this cheap talk, they are much more intelligent than!

      The messeriya didn’t allow the NCP to negotiate for them, they are negotiating themselves , and not only members of the NCP, they were all united and from all the political parties!

      If this is not a call for war and hatred, what do you call it?

      5- Bluffing again! Trying to say messeriya place is Al- Mujlad and not Abeyei. At least you should some respect to our brains. If you think intelligence is connected to colour, all brains consist of white and grey matter regardless of skin colour!

      The ABC was ruled by the Hague to be wrong.The location of the Dinka before 1905 was not as they speculated. Their report was full of speculation!Nobody asked them to speculate or make theories! There was no transfer of land from Bahr Alghazal to south Kordufan, there was transfer of people when Deng Majok decided to migrate to south Kordufan, for safty, security and better education for his childeren.He was a wise man.There was only transfer of the administration.This was said by British historians, and experts, in the Hague and not by biased diplomates who tried in vain to be historians in the ABC comission.All southerners know this simple fact!

      Dinka Ngok will take the same decision which was taken by Deng Majok a century ago, if they are left alone.History will repeat itself, despite your hatred!

      It is people like you who sow the seeds of hatred among southerners, now, after secession , they are harvesting what you sow! alone! Southerners are finding peace and security in the north , with Basheer, Arabs and NCP.Hatred does not descriminate, it burns everything! The south is burining now and unfortunately we haven’t seen worset yet!

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      • 19 May 2011 22:40, by Tim F

        Dear Mohamed

        We could argue about what the aspirations of ordinary Misseriya (who I think we would both agree are not one homogenous group who all think the same way) are and to what extent they can be satisfied outside of Abyei until the cows come home, but if Misseriya leadership is as representative of this diverse community as you suggest, they should be less precious about allowing access to the community to avoid the impression they are scared ordinary Misseriya would say the "wrong" thing to international observers. It is convenient that for this reason none of your claims can be verified.

        The idea that the North’s attempted occupation of Abyei on May 1st was "my invention" is absurd. Not only do the facts fit my description, but I was certainly not the first person to suggest this - in an interview with Sudan Tribune (reported here: http://www.sudantribune.com/Abyei-chief-administrator-calls,38795 ) Deng Arop Kuol said "They started shooting when police refused and stopped the convoy […] This was a plan to invade." The interview was published May 5th, long before my article was published and before I updated it to take account of the events of May 1st. It does not add credence to your other statements to make allegations that are so easily proved wrong with a simple fact-check.

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        • 20 May 2011 21:55, by mohammed ali


          I must congratulate you! Mr. Warmonger! You have won!

          You have started the war!

          So many innocent life will be lost and so many blood will be shed unnecessarily

          Northerners will die and southerners while you remain unthreatened!

          So you won!

          Or you going to lie again about the "identity cards" of the killed person!!!

          Your interference in something which should be none of your concern has led to this tragic result!
          Your claim that the SAF was planning to occupy Abeyei was a lie and you proved it yourself. When you say your evidence was the speech of an SPLA member, clearly shows that you have invented the whole incidence.When you depend upon the “enemy” of the SAF as your source of your “facts” , you are simply miles away from the truth.
          Now , what are you going to say when the SAF is being escorted by the UN forces they had being cowardly attacked. Are going to repeat what the SPLA spoke person said , that the SAF was attacked by an unspecified person! He is either a stupid person or he thinks that we are stupid. Certainly we are not stupid
          The SAF had been attacked and ambushed cowardly twice in less than 15 days.
          For sure you will listen to their “reaction” a reaction which was incited and instigated by hate and warmongers like you!
          Am sure the superior leadership of the SPLA and in particular the president and the vice-president of the GOSS.
          It is all started by Abyei sons like Luka Piong , Edward Lino,Deng “ Ahmed “ Alour, who listen to your malicious advice .They feel that they are going to loose their hegemony and control over the SPLA , so it is better from them to divert attention from the real problem of the South! They are holding all of the aspirations in peace and prosperity as a ransom for one issue. While all southerners deep in their heart that Abeyei does not belong to the Dinka Ngok!
          Edward Lino started a similar attack against the SAF which was most probably instigated by war-mongers like, he received the right answer from the SAF, and was reprimanded by Silva Kiir and was removed from his post in Abeyei.
          Abyei sons and in particular Deng Alour “ Ahmed” say that the Neuer and other branches of the Dinka are going to sell them. Negotiation is not selling and peace is not selling!
          They want to escalate events on the eve of the Security Council to Sudan under your guidance and claim that the SAF started the attack! Unfortunately this time it was under the supervision of the UNMIS. Though they said it was started by an unidentified source, this is always understood as the “diplomatic” language of the UN.
          We have come along a very long to come to peace, you and your like who still dream of the white-man supremacy and that you can still shape Africa according to your own interest and not southerners interest , according to your own benefit and unlimited greed.
          We have being stupidly defending borders which we didn’t mark on the ground, you marked when you came to enslave all of Africa, according to your interest and greed.
          The politics of the world is changing very fast and very dramatically, and those who were strong in the past will not remain as strong as they used to be! Other powers are emerging and those have interest WITH and not IN Sudan will not remain biased forever!

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      • 20 May 2011 03:40, by rock

        Mohammed Ali;
        Stop all these claims about Abyei and let your party NCP (aka NIF)seek for peaceful means which will not jeopardize the life of Misserya in future.
        Mr.Mohammed,during CPA negotiation it was SPLM which table the issue of Misserya to be discuss,who came to blame SPLM today and your party did not bother about them by then.
        about transfer, ya Mohammed complicated Abyei issue will not help but am afraid will jeopardize Misserya future.because you can`t claim that only people were transfer to south Kordufan even without fear you mention "migrate" if i may ask you when did migrate take place from southward to northward? you people stop feeding the world with stories has not prove.
        back to Mr.Tim`s article,there is nothing like being bias but telling out the truth. the only thing to your reaction to this article and it is culture to some circle in the North is that, they don`t want to hear the truth or to know.
        come to separation issue, it would be better for you to seek for more information in North rather than blame SPLM in this matter, actually it was not SPLM that Vote or force people to vote. it people which vote for their interest because your party though that giving hard time to SPLM it will let them win the game at the end of day but not knowing that they are make it more worse in their side.
        another claim in your comment, when will you or likes stop lying to yourself than to other,when did southerns started go back to North?
        about the hatred that you always put in your comment and this word seem to be only word that you always express when you get frustrate.actually i can`t blame you, since you lack more information but pretend to know everything.don`t point to south Sudanese that are the one who hate you (North Sudanese)it you who started that hatred due to your policies toward other, so if Southerners used against you don`t complain and i don`t think there is something like that.I don`t want to talk about the past but currently in Khartoum Northerners are calling Southerners foreigners no one in South calling had call any Northerner a foreigner.
        so what can you say about this?
        who are racist?
        as Northerners always say Khartoum has been surround with black tape.
        however don`t blame others while you are the cause of that.

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        • 21 May 2011 12:29, by mohammed ali


          By now I think you know who started this mess! The SPLA spoke-person claimed that the SAF was attacked by an unidentified person who started shooting gun towards the SAF, the SAF responded with firing an RBG towards the SPLA then the SPLA started to respond! 22 SAF were killed tens are not accounted for as yet! Would you believe such a silly and foolish account? He doesn’t even know how to lie!Lucky enough the UNIMIS was there and was escorting the SAF outside Abeyei. The SPLA was not supposed to be there in the first place,this was a violation of Kadugli agreement.

          The ABC report complicated the issue of Abeyei completely!They speculated as much as the could when nobody asked them to speculate!The Arbiterization court in the Hague ruled that the ABC had exceeded their mandate.They determined the borders of Abeyei and ruled out it is the right of the people living in Abeyei area to determine where they want to stay, wheather the north or south.The SPLA claim that only Dinka Ngok have the right to vote! This was not the ruling of the Hague!

          Ask Dr. Frances Deng who was against the annexion of Abeyei to the south since the Addis Abba agreement. Ask him why? His father , who was agreat man and agreat Sudanese , a man with vision made that decision and Abeyei was the real melting point of Sudan. People were mixing and interacting naturally as human beings , regardless of religion, language , colour or race. They fight one day and the reconcile the other day, they go to the same schools and this why Abeyei sons got the highest rate of education among southerners!This was the vision of Deng Majok before the term "nation building" was invented..naturally, not as the educated people trying to do now it , artificially!

          I agree with it is a complicated issue, but it is not impossible to peacful and amicable solution. The tactics of Abeyei sons in the SPLA to start the conflict again so that they could maintin their hegmony over the SPLA and over the GOSS and the south in general will not succed!

          The British Academicians, lawyers, old colonial administrators and geographist in the Hague clearly produce documents that prove there was no transfere of land. This why they ruled that the ABC had exceeded it’s mandate and the report was considered nil and void! They came ,as usual with a reconcillatory rule which is not in favour of any party!The people..all of the people have the right to decide their fate..equally and democratically on top of that peacfully!War will not solve a problem and it had never solved one!

          Hate and war-mongers like Mr.Tim wants us to continue fighting forever; not for our benfit but for their own benifit and greed.The so called NGO’S and Humanterian organisations is a huge "industry" an opportunistic one which invest in human being misery and plight!The price of One landcruser can feed 100 families for on year! Otherwise they would remain unemployed or remain redundant in their own countries...so they beat the drums of war..war..war! They live in the best villas with swimming pools in the name of the poor people!How kind of them!

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          • 29 June 2011 04:21, by Bossmj


            I wouldn’t engage. A bit like banging your head against a brick wall.

            Whoever Mohammed Ali is, he’ll just raise your blood pressure and never get it.

            I grew up around his lot [further south - Uganda]. Fortunate enough to be raised in the UK and subsequently in the States.

            All to say; just like you couldn’t describe to someone what life as an elephant is like because you are not an elephant, [though you could describe what life as a human is since you are human], this entity is just frothing at the mouth with pure unalderated indignation that someone might habour ideas that move his ’food dish’.

            Used to people telling him what he wants to hear and cowering when he raises his voice, i expect he just can’t believe your gall at standing up to him.

            Were you in Sudan, like back in the days of Idi Amin, you’d come up missing.

            Let it slide. You could argue your logic till the cows come home and he’ll wake tomorrow with the same arrogance, get into his mercedes or SUV (paid for by our tax dollars, pounds or funding (’bin hiding’ left), that ought to have been used to buy food for the people, have a bunch of thugs jump in cars behind and in front of the one carrying him and still be mad that someone dared to shed light on what he is really about.

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            • 29 June 2011 16:20, by mohammed ali


              "I GREW UP AROUND HIS LOT" Yet you call me arrogant. You feel it is too much to say I lived in Africa or Uganda...Just lot.

              Yeah, am very arrogant with people like you who want to monopolize even arrogancy.

              The pundulum is swining and "my lot" will be different from what you want us to be or precive that what we should be!

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[1Part 2, 24, on voter eligibility refers directly to the Dinka Ngok and other Sudanese who meet residency critera; Part 1, 14, (1) states that a commission shall determine residency criteria in accordance with the Abyei Protocol, which itself refers to “permanent residents”. Abyei Referendum Act 2009

[2A good example can be found at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-12596613 Accounts given by the GoS and Abyei Area Administration on the events of 1st May were also given equal weight in a report by Reuters available at: http://af.reuters.com/article/sudanNews/idAFLAE36532720110503?pageNumber=2&virtualBrandChannel=0 despite a large discrepancy in plausibility between the two accounts. The GoS account fails to give a reason for the simultaneous attack on Tajalei, or explain why the SAF contingent had no documentation/authorization from Abyei town itself, yet is treated in the same way as the more plausible Abyei Area Administration account. This approach assists the GoS, allowing them to shroud events in confusion, and avoid responsibility for their aggression. It also reduces international sympathy for the South if the North can, by fair means or foul, equalize blame between both sides for any violent incidents.

[3See Douglas Johnson’s account in The Road Back From Abyei, available at: http://www.gurtong.net/ECM/Editorial/tabid/124/ctl/ArticleView/mid/519/articleId/4702/The-Road-Back-From-Abyei.aspx However, in some more recent statements, international institutions have explicitly recognized the PCA verdict on the borders of Abyei, for example UN Security Council Presidential Statement SC/10231, available at: http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs//2011/sc10231.doc.htm This is to be welcomed.

[4SPLM Press Release on Abyei, January 2011

[5Resolution 10, Resolutions of the Abyei Ngok Dinka Consultative Conference, Juba, Southern Sudan, November 15-16, 2010

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