November 17, 2010 (KHARTOUM) — General Salva Kiir Mayardit, President of the semi autonomous regional Government of South Sudan on Wednesday said that the oil producing region of Abyei belongs to the nine Dinka Ngok chiefdoms.
- FILE - Sudan’s First vice president Salva Kiir (L) gestures to leaders of the Elders Group in Juba (Reuters)
Kiir’s Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) which governs the south and Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP) have so far failed to agree on who is eligible to vote in Abyei’s referendum to decide whether the region will remain in the north or join what could be a newly independent south Sudan.
The last round of talks sponsored by the United States in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa in October stalled over the composition of Abyei’s Referendum Commission and voter eligibility.
Addressing the closing session of a two day conference on the ‘urgent popular demand for implementation of the Abyei referendum’ in the south’s capital Juba Salva Kiir said that "Abyei belongs to the Ngok Dinka". He further said the SPLM would not ink an agreement on outstanding issues related to Sudan’s assets, water or oil without concluding a deal on Abyei with the National Congress Party (NCP).
The former South African president Thabo Mbeki and Chairman of the African Union High Level Implementation Panel for Sudan told the UN Security Council on Tuesday that the President Omer Al-Bashir and his first deputy will meet during next week of 22 November to discuss Abyei referendum.
Mebeki further stressed that both parties have agreed to "do everything possible to reach an agreement on this issue as a matter of urgency".
Regarding the future of the cattle herder nomads in the area, Kiir said that South Sudan would be able to provide services to members of the Misseriya tribe in Abyei but would not give them the right to own the land.
Tensions are running high in the region as the referendum is all but certain will be delayed given the impasse. Voter registration for the south Sudan referendum is underway, with voter lists to be finished only days before the vote begins January 9, 2011.
The NCP insists that the Misseriya, most of whom do not live permanently in the region but reside during the rainy season to find grazing for their cattle for a few months each year, should be allowed to vote.
Speaking to Sudan Tribune from Juba, Charles Abyei Jok, speaker of the Abyei Area legislative council described the Dinka Nogk conference as very successful and helped bring together both traditional and political leaders from Abyei to consult over the future the region.
"The conference ended successfully today. It brought different leaders from the area. It also saw attendance of our neighboring community leaders. We consulted widely with them," said Jok.