Home | Comment & Analysis    Tuesday 18 December 2012

Abyei: Justice delayed but not denied by the African Union


By Luka Biong Deng

December 17, 2012 — On 14th December in Addis Ababa, the African Union Peace and Security Council decided in its 349th Meeting to refer the endorsement of the AU Proposal on the final status of Abyei area to its meeting at the level of the Heads of State. The next meeting of the Council is scheduled to be held on the margins of the 21st Ordinary Session of the Assembly of AU in January 2013. Besides referring the endorsement of Abyei Proposal, the Council reiterates its acceptance of 21st September AU Proposal on the final status of Abyei area. The Council considers the Proposal as fair, equitable and workable solution for the final status of Abyei as it takes into account the Agreements entered into by the Parties and the needs and interests of the Ngok Dinka and Arab nomads.

As the deadline given to the Parties to build consensus around the Proposal expired on 5th December, the Council was expected to endorse the Proposal and to forward it to the UN Security Council for endorsement and enforcement. In justifying its decision of referral of the Proposal, the Council recognizes that no engagement took place between the Parties over the Proposal. This reasoning was rather surprising as the South exerted considerable efforts to engage Khartoum as articulated by its Minister of Foreign Affairs in his address to the Council. Khartoum instead avoided engaging with Juba and used instead the six weeks to wage a diplomatic campaign to convince the members of the Council to give more time for its engagement with Juba and to resolve the issue within AU without resorting to the UN Security Council.

In his address to the Council, the Sudanese Minister of Foreign Affairs used rather shallow arguments about the legitimacy of the Council’s decisions in its 24th October Communiqué. In fact the Sudanese Minister echoed and without remorse their normal racist rhetoric towards Africans by almost stating that the members of the Council are not only wrong but they do not know what they are doing. Specially, the Sudanese Foreign Minister argued that the decisions of the Council on 24th October are inconsistent with the principles of dialogue and mediation.

As the Sudanese Minister was lecturing the members of the Council about their role, the Minister was instead exposing his level of ignorance. In fact the Abyei Proposal came through a long process of dialogue and mediation. This process of dialogue started with Abyei Protocol that was signed by the Parties and then the final and binding international arbitration agreed upon by the Parties defined clearly the area of the Ngok Dinka. Also the Parties agreed in the 20th June 2011 Agreement to consider the proposals from the AU Panel about the final status of Abyei. Equally, the Parties accepted the AU Roadmap and the UN Security Council Resolution 2046 that mandated the AU Panel to make final and binding proposals on any issue not agreed upon by the Parties.

Also, the Sudanese Foreign Minister advanced rather absurd and ridiculous legal argument to challenge the decisions of the Council in its 24th October Communiqué. In particular, the Sudanese Minister argued that these decisions taken by the Council in relation to Abyei and border areas are in direct contradiction with the principle of respect of sovereignty and territorial integrity. Despite my limited legal knowledge, the Government of Sudan has failed to understand these decisions by wrongly considering them as decisions dealing with the border disputes between the two countries.

The decisions of the Council concerning Abyei area are not at all about the border dispute as the issue of Abyei boundaries has been resolved by the final and binding international border arbitration. In fact the decisions of the Council over Abyei are about determining the final status of Abyei through a process agreed upon by the two countries. Also the decisions of the Council over the disputed and claimed border areas are not about imposing solutions but rather to suggest a process for resolving the border disputes. This process of resolving the disputed and claimed border areas is almost agreed upon by the two countries by resorting to the final and binding international border arbitration after getting non-binding opinion from the AU border experts.

It is indeed strange for the Sudanese Foreign Minister to lecture the members of the Council that they did not adhere to the principles of dialogue and mediation as well as not respecting sovereignty and territorial integrity of Sudan. On the contrary Sudan did not respect the provisions of the African Union Constitutive Act by defying the decisions taken by the Council through a process agreed upon by the two countries. While members state of AU respected the decision of the AU not to cooperate with ICC in apprehending and arresting Sudanese President over crimes committed in Darfur, the Sudanese Foreign Ministers has unfoundedly challenged the decisions of the very African institution that protects his President.

The Government of Sudan, after extensive diplomatic campaign by visiting almost all members of the Council, came to the last meeting of the AU Council with the aim of achieving two objectives, namely: to obstruct the issue of Abyei and border not to be taken to the UN Security Council and to water down the Proposal of the AU Panel on the final status of Abyei by asking for unlimited time to engage with the South. Sudan has gone further by suggesting to the Council its readiness to accept the partitioning of Abyei area as one of the preferred options proposed by the AU Panel to the Parties in November 2010.

In fact Sudan has failed to achieve either of these objectives as the Council reiterates its acceptance of the AU Abyei Proposal that will be endorsed in the next meeting of the Council and to be forwarded to the UN Security Council for endorsement. Also the Council did not accept the request by Khartoum for an open period to engage with the South over the pending issues of Abyei and border. The Council has instead given additional period of six weeks for the two Presidents to engage in a summit over these pending issues. The only way Sudan can avoid these AU proposals on Abyei and border to reach the UN Security Council is to accept these proposals during the summit between President Salva and President Bashir before the next meeting of the Council.

The decision by the Council to refer the issue of Abyei and border to its Heads of State was rather shocking and incompressible in light of its clear decision on 24th October. After the Parties failed to reach consensus over the AU Abyei Proposal within six weeks and to agree on mechanism for resolving the border disputes within two weeks, the Council was expected in its last meeting to endorse these proposals by the AU Panel and to seek endorsement of the UN Security Council. This raises a lot of questions about the credibility and consistency of the AU institutions in providing coherent leadership for resolving African problems.

Despite the apparent delay of justice for the people of Abyei area as they attached so much hope to the last meeting of the Council to endorse the Abyei Proposal, the decisions of the Council in its last meeting are rather reassuring by reiterating its acceptance of Abyei Proposal. Also the decision of referring the issues of Abyei and border to the Heads of State of the Council has a lot of wisdom. The endorsement of these proposals by the Council at the level of Heads of State will carry a lot of political and diplomatic weight that is necessary to ensure unified position among the members of the UN Security Council in endorsing these proposals.

In fact the discussion in the last meeting of the Council was less about questioning its decisions taken on 24th October but more about whether to endorse the proposals on Abyei and border at the level of ambassadors or at the level of the Heads of State. The real challenge now for the South is to ensure that the next meeting of the Council at the level of Heads of State to endorse the proposals on Abyei and border. This will require a high level diplomatic campaign at the level of the leadership of the South to engage all Heads of State of all members of the Council.

In order to make the diplomatic campaign of the South more effective and successful, President Salva may need to continue engaging President Bashir through a summit either in Juba or in a third country such as Ethiopia. In fact President Salva is on a higher moral ground not only to convince African leaders to endorse the AU Proposals on Abyei and border but he is the only African Leader who can engage President Bashir to accept these proposals without proceeding to the UN Security Council. Although the decisions of the Council in its last meeting have delayed justice for the people of Abyei, I am confident that the diplomatic efforts by President Salva with President Bashir and Heads of State of the Council will restore justice and hope for the people of Abyei.

Luka Biong Deng is a senior member of South Sudan’s ruling Sudan People Liberation Movement (SPLM) and the Co-Chair of the Abyei Joint Oversight Committee. He can be contacted at lukabiong@kushworld.org. This article was published first by the New Nation Newspaper - New York, US

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  • 18 December 2012 19:42, by Mapuor

    Dear Luka Biong
    I do appreciate all your views on the issue of Abyei which is presumably your home area,however,the time for such views is long overdue,1905 was the right time for such patriotic views.there is no need crying over spilled milk.Just forget about joining South Sudan and go back to Sudan.

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    • 19 December 2012 12:44, by Nyakuzuny

      hahaaaaaaaa Mabuor I like this Comment to-much they are not bliame any body here in South Sudan , tell Luke Abiong to return back 30 Dinders to Northern Sudan because they was believed that , South Sudan will Fail to get their Independent Country.

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      • 19 December 2012 20:47, by nuer food lovers

        luka Biong bro,u re wasting ur time just take up arm like Nuba and Blue be courageous,there is no freedom without pain.instead Nuba &Blue Nile re going to gain their independence,but Abyei fate will be zero.ur egocentric ,greedy and proudness have misled u.sudantribune will bring no deadlock to Abyei problem.is like sudanese stated it clearly that there is not body that will decide Abyei referenda

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        • 19 December 2012 20:55, by nuer food lovers

          rather than parlament in khartoum. U and Deng Aloor re stupid idiot among the Abyei son.kiir government is dying,where will u go if the true south sudanese ,interllectual,literate,patriotic took the power,like what tiger Maumur Mete did to ur bro Pieng Deng in Bilpam,when he slaugh and kick him from the luxuries chair to floor,told him foreigner.

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  • 19 December 2012 21:24, by Zionist

    From all the hatred and all the ignorance posted by all of the above comments toward the people of Abyei,and from what happened in the past and what will happen in the days to come, it’ll be a terrible mistake for Abyei to join the wolves of SPLA or the wolves of the NCP, simply because they’re after the oil and not for the people, and "when two elephants are fighting, the grass is the victim".

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    • 20 December 2012 13:08, by nuer food lovers

      zonist who is the grass now,the only option is to take up army like Nuba &Blue Nile u will ur right.SPLA is ready to supply u with logistic and training of combatant,coming to oil there is not oil in Abyei,ur homo bro,s Hamad Deng Aloor &idiot retarded,drunkard master luka Boing misled the s.sudan,there is saying in Dinka that is good clever but disadavantages.

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      • 20 December 2012 15:08, by Zionist

        Nuer food lovers
        I don’t know the ignorance behind your name"Nuer food lovers", but I know that you’re a migid next to Dr. Luka Biong Deng and that you need a hundred years to finish your high school, just to be told that you finished high school, and only then you can sit next to one of Abyei’s finest. I won’t be surprised if you become the next president, because you got what it takes to be one.

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        • 20 December 2012 15:41, by nuer food lovers

          hahaha zionist,u make laugh ,the high school u re taking of,i finished 17 yrs back,ihope would n,t gone to school.i have bachlelor degree same six yrs back now am have master degree in economic,soon i will look all way to obtain PHD. Like what ur uncle is having now,but mindn,t u PHD is nothing,since Dr.Luka put his PHD in the bar instead to look for Abyei or other marginalise sudanese in the ....

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          • 20 December 2012 15:49, by nuer food lovers

            northern sudan, now u re critizing as a person of lower education,&promote Abyei to be having the same PHD that fake Dr.Luka Biong have,anyway icould not a drunkard to loss or forget my wallet in the bar like what luka did in Germay some months back,with my little education iwill be proud of it even if i undergone primary education,nusery education,after all i know iam doing in where am, mind.....

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            • 20 December 2012 15:57, by nuer food lovers

              was simply piece of advice toward ur succsse,but was not informed that people Abyei cannot be advice that is why Deng Majok paid deaf ears to Sultan Maloung Yor,Chier Riench,lang Juuk,kuot Awujak&miyar de Bielkuei of parieng not to joint BaBo Niemer,but to joint south sudan.iwould like begge u to forgive me bro.they in Bible that for u to be forgiven,u should repent as i did it.but u should in ...

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              • 20 December 2012 16:05, by nuer food lovers

                mind that am a Dinka like u,&also Neighbour ur problem is my problem,eg the 2008&2011 affected my community economically and socilally as well as settlement.that is why i said take up army and recruit from Malual giernyang,from Twic mayar,from Ruweng,from Awan Chan nyal,Awan Mou Ring as well as Apouk Gier thiek and Agong.u re free to do so which jallaba that will identify them as s.sudanese....

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              • 20 December 2012 16:17, by Zionist

                Nuer food lovers
                Tell me what happened to the vision of late Dr. John Garang De Mabior, about the united Sudan, why didn’t Dr. Riek Macar, Dr. Lam Akol listen to the father of the nation, and why did they have to fight him in 1992? History repeats itself, and all of you "food lovers" will be proven wrong. That vision is still alive, just look to what happened after the independence, then tell me.

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                • 20 December 2012 16:32, by nuer food lovers

                  yes bro ur question,actually interesting, but icould not be the very person to answer u,ask ur uncle Luka Biong,Deng Aloor, Kiir kuethpiny an so further.if am not mistaken ,luka reaction to Joseph Bakasoro of Western Equatoria wining the governorship in that state,he said Bakasoro what re ur objective toward referendum?,re going to compagin for which option to people btwen unity &seperation,i....

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                  • 20 December 2012 16:40, by nuer food lovers

                    hope during the poly 9/january/2011 the second person to salva kiir in voting for seperation was Deng Aloor.coming to 1992 iwas a junior officer ie captian in fronte line in Eastern Equatoria far away from politic.i may ask the same question of where is the vision of united sudan. But salva opted with advice of ur uncle Luka Biong.

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              • 20 December 2012 16:21, by nuer food lovers

                and thank u very much for ur hard word to me,but in the nearess future u will except my proposal for u.and i become a president of s.sudan,automatically this what will do as Uganda,Ethiopia Kenya And Eriteria did it lately.

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                • 20 December 2012 16:43, by Zionist

                  Nuer food lover
                  Just before you assume the presidency, make sure you stop attacking that gentleman named Luka Biong Deng personally, because you’ll need him on your side, since he’s an expert in both South and North Sudan’s politics, good luck Mr. president.

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                  • 20 December 2012 17:09, by nuer food lovers

                    oh mr zionist atleast to day u re wise.i have excepted ur advice bro cozs am from community that can be advice. But u should advice ur uncle Luka not to attack people under his name Rommel.and thank u for wishing me da best in leadership if i come across it in future,s.sudan will a condusive nation with respect human,right dignity and prosperities for all.even u People will smell a sign of succes

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  • 20 December 2012 17:44, by Zionist

    Nuer food lover
    Finally, we’re at peace thank God. However, Rommel is not Dr. Luka Biong Deng, and I’m not his nephew, although I do respect both guys; because they always make great points. I’ll vote for you or anyone who’ll observe human rights, freedom of speech and the rule of law. I don’t care if the person is Dinka, Nuer or Shulluk as long as that person come through a democratic process.

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