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Standoff over Abyei dominates consultative discussions between peace partners


By Ngor Arol Garang

November 18, 2010 (KHARTOUM) — Discussions between the parties to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) are being dominated by a standoff over the oil producing region of Abyei on the north-south border, according to Barnaba Marial Benjamin, minister of information and broadcasting services.

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A displaced young girl from Abyei collects water near a school where she is sheltering in Agok, southern Sudan, June 7, 2008. (Reuters)

As part of the 2005 deal the two peace partners agreed that the Abyei would decide whether it would remain as part of the north or join the south in a referendum. The south is also due to hold a referendum in January, which analysts and diplomats believe will see the region become fully independent.

The two parties have yet to agree on post referendum arrangements including citizenship, resources (oil and water), division of national assets and economic debt.

An agreement reached on November 13 for a “Framework for Resolving Outstanding Issues Relating to the Implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and the Future Relations of North and South Sudan”, has not yet been signed by the two parties.

Minister Marial, who serves in the SPLM dominated Government of Southern Sudan since 2005 said on Thursday that discussions with Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP) were making “good progress.”

Delegations representing both parties briefed the United Nation Security Council (UNSC) on Tuesday over the discussions. Sudanese foreign affairs minister, Ali Ahmed Karti briefed the UNSC on behalf of the NCP. While, the SPLM were represented by the Government of Southern Sudan’s Minister of Peace and CPA implementation, Pagan Amum.

In Khartoum, Sudan’s Vice-President Ali Osman Taha confirmed Marial’s statements today saying that the NCP and the SPLM have reached a framework agreement on the outstanding issues, except Abyei. However he showed optimism that the next week presidential meeting may conclude a deal on the disputed area.

With less than two months before the scheduled January 9 referenda on self-determination for south Sudan and for the people of Abyei to decide whether they will go with the north or south, the two sides have still to agree on who will be allowed to vote in the Abyei poll.

Dhieu Mathok Diing Wol, a senior SPLM member, expressed concern that deadlock over Abyei could trigger a return to north-south civil war, the most recent of which lasted over two decades.

"There has been very little progress on agreeing the arrangements for the vote in Abyei. This has raised a lot of concerns and worries in the run-up to January vote. The issue of Abyei is one of the sticking points still being discussed between the two parties and we want to see much more focus from international community. There needs to pay focus so that the risks of this region becoming a triggering point returning the country back to war are minimized," said Mathok.

The senior official of the south’s ruling party says their partner in the CPA is attempting many bargaining tactics to get the best deal it can for before the likely breakup of the country.

"Officials from the National Congress Party are trying their best. They are knocking all doors in attempt to bargain with interest that we split the national debts, share oil resources as stipulated in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement even if the south secedes," he explained.

Under the CPA the north and south split revenues from the south’s oil fields were split 50-50.

He also accused the NCP of attempting to draw the north-south border so that more of Sudan’s oil is north of the as yet un-demarcated border.

"They are also trying to ensure that north-south borders are drawn in their favor so that it brings more oil into the north and continue removing oil in the north from reservoirs that run into the south," he explained.

The former senior member of the NCP, who defected to the SPLM in 2007, says all eyes of his former party are fixed on Abyei because of its oil.

“The cause of all stalemates is Abyei. The NCP sees Abyei as nothing but wealth. This is why they have not been able to reach [a] compromise with our team involved in discussions over the issue of this region because they know Abyei is their last pocket. They are fearing economical collapse,” said Mathok.

The official, who became part of the regional government in September and comes from southern state of Northern Bahr el Ghazal which shares a territorial boundary with Abyei, said there are a lot of people along that border.

“We share a lot of things with the people of Abyei not just because of being of Dinka. We share common border with them as we are along the north-south borderlines and they are real brothers and true south Sudanese,” he said.

General Salva Kiir Mayardit, President of the semi autonomous regional Government of South Sudan on Wednesday said that Abyei belonged to the nine Dinka Ngok chiefdoms.

Kiir’s SPLM and the NCP have so far failed to agree on who is eligible to vote in Abyei’s referendum. 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.

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.


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  • 19 November 2010 12:59, by Lok T Simon

    hey southerners,
    Nothing more better than to die on our border. If Southern Sudan split from Northen Sudan and we leave behind Abyei’s people with high cancer oppression of Arab, then we are going to summary all our struggle mission into "0" achievement.
    Come on! let’s die on our rights, God who created us on this land and world community would not marginalise us altough Arab does. No limit for somebody rights and there must be the end of verything one day one time.


    Lok T. Simon

    repondre message

  • 19 November 2010 13:07, by Sudani Logik

    My advise to the SPLM negotiating team is to politically out-manuever those oppressive thugs of the NCP! They’ll break sooner or later, money is their only motive... Don’t let the international community force you into a corner of accepting a less than favorable deal.

    repondre message

  • 19 November 2010 13:14, by Lok T Simon

    Dear Southerners,
    We cannot afford to give up our rights, although we have pressures of condition. Should we give up our land, oil or others nature economic things to Northern people just because we want to pampering them, in order for them to give us our independency? The answer is no!!! whatsoever the case might be.


    Lok T. Simon.

    repondre message

    • 21 November 2010 05:31, by Young Nation

      Better for North/South war to resume than for Abyei to remian part of North Sudan. Some might challenge me and the rest of my colleagues who share similar radical view for biting the drums of war, and might even go further to say I/we favor North/South hostilities because I’m/we are residing in the West. I want to expose to these anticipated challengers that my/our stay in the West is due exclusively on my studies. The point is that I’m handing home upon completing my/our studies whether there is war or not.

      Young Nation is a Student of International Relations at The Uiversity Of Queensland, Australia.

      repondre message

  • 30 July 2012 18:34, by danaray79

    I am really impressed by this blog! Very clear explanation of issues is given and it is open to everyone. thanks for posting this work of yours..this is very good! Buy Essay.

    repondre message

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