August 15, 2012 (JUBA) - Senior members of South Sudan’s governing Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) said on Wednesday that the nation would not submit to the alleged provocations of elements within the government of neighbouring Sudan, warmongering over the disputed border region of Abyei.
- A father tends to his son in a looted hospital, Abyei, 2009 (Reuters)
“We do not believe in violence as a substitute to resolving conflict. This is not in the interests of the two countries. We have always acted in self-defence because there is no way you can allow yourself to be killed if there is a way you can protect yourself,” the deputy speaker the South Sudan National Legislative Assembly, Daniel Awet Akot, said on Wednesday.
Akot said that even if the current round of talks between Juba and Khartoum fail, war is not inevitable, citing the successful signing of a recent deal on oil wealth sharing.
Abyei lies on the border between the two nations. It was occupied by the Sudanese army (SAF) in May 2011 after its troops came under attack by southern forces. Later in June, Sudan and South Sudan signed an agreement stipulating the immediate withdrawal of their troops from the region, the deployment of UN Ethiopian peacekeepers and establishment of joint administrative and legislative bodies in the region.
The region’s status was supposed to be determined via a referendum scheduled to take place in January last year but the vote stalled after Sudanese and South Sudanese leaders failed to agree on whether the traditionally pro-Khartoum Misseria nomads, who are in the region seasonally to graze their cattle, should be allowed to vote.
Although both Juba and Khartoum has officially removed their troops from the region, there are allegations that clandestine security forces remain there.
Akot was speaking from Juba international airport upon arrival of the speaker of the National Legislative Assembly, James Wani Igga, from an international forum in the US.
Igga said he had briefed speakers from different countries on the situation in South Sudan with regards to the plight of its citizens and diplomatic efforts being to resolve the dispute with Khartoum.
"Much as it is a well-known fact that the Abyei belongs to Dinka Ngok, we will engage Sudanese government in peaceful dialogue to resolve our differences diplomatically and amicably," said Igga.
Igga said he backs president Salva Kiir’s planned talks with the president of Sudan, Omar al-Bashir in Addis Ababa on September 22.