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Peacekeepers starts patrolling in Abyei

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By Ngor Arol Garang

July 23, 2009 (ABYEI) — Peacekeepers of United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) have started patrols in Abyei on Thursday over fears that discontented elements from both sides may stage attack on civilians.

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UN tanks patroling Abyei town , on July 23, 2009 (Photo by Ngor Arol Garang -ST)

North and South Sudan have accepted yesterday an international arbitration court ruling drawing new borders in the eastern and western parts of the disputed region placing the Heglig oil fields and the Nile oil pipeline under control of the Khartoum government.

Ashref Qazi, UN envoy to Sudan said last week that peacekeepers present in Abyei would use force if necessary to protect civilians.

"We do have in our mandate a Chapter VII paragraph….with regard to protection of civilians. We are mandated to protect civilians who are in imminent danger of physical harm within our capabilities and in accordance with our mandate without prejudice to the primary responsibility of the two governments," Qazi said.

However, speaking to reporters at Abyei local council today, Kabashi Tom, a member of Messeriya group in Abyei dismissed fears of any attack from their side. "Messeriya communities have accepted the ruling and will not be the first to go against their commitments unless they are forced to defense themselves."

"As far as I am concerned, nothing is being planned by the Meseriya tribes. They have fully accepted the court decision and even celebrated the ruling in Muglad yesterday and today," he stressed.

Sudan peace partners, the dominant National Congress Party (NCP and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement welcomed on Wednesday the award of Abyei Arbitration Tribunal and reaffirmed their commitment to implement the final and binding ruling. They further said that Abyei can be a model for peace.

GOSS President General Salva Kiir Mayardit recently warned armed civilians to give up their arms or they will face punishment. A police Brigadier General, Deng Agok, said Abyei would be arms-free.

"No civilians are being found armed these days." "The same in Agok and its environs," he added.

General Agok said local police in collaboration with the UN police will constantly monitor Abyei security situation. He continued to say that the ruling has been accepted by both parties.

"However, as soldier, I am ready to discharge and execute my duties when and where required," he said.

(ST)

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