January 12, 2012 (WAU) – The failure by both Sudan and South Sudan to resolve their outstanding post-session issues, including the fate of the contested oil-producing Abyei region, could lead the two countries to another war, a senior member of the south-ruling party (SPLM) said Saturday.
- Smoke rising from burning homes in the center of Abyei town, May 11, 2011 (UN)
"We are faced with deliberate aggression by the government of Sudan. The behaviour of the Sudanese armed forces whose actions are commanded by individuals in the national congress party, under watchful leadership of president Bashir undermines hope to promote peaceful dialogue," Aleu Ayeny Aleu told Sudan Tribune.
Aleu, also a member of the national legislative assembly, said recent military activities at the border areas and Abyei were clear warning of obstacles and threats to realisation of the desire to establish two viable states.
The young nation, on Friday, objected to the formation of a humanitarian commission for the disputed region of Abyei, describing it “a unilateral decision” by the government of Sudan, with which it contests ownership of the oil-producing area.
Luka Biong Deng, South Sudan’s co-chair of the Abyei Joint Oversight Committee (AJOC) accused Sudan of attempting to unilaterally establish "their own Abyei Commission for Humanitarian Affairs".
The official, in a statement extended to Sudan Tribune, said Khartoum had sent "a delegation to Abyei without coordinating with the government of South Sudan and even within the AJOC."
He further repeated South Sudan’s assertion over recent days that Sudan was trying to settle Misseriya in Abyei "so that they can dilute and obstruct the referendum" planned for October.
"All these are not good indications for building trust between the two countries and for having an effective administration that can help in maintaining peace and stability,” Deng told Sudan Tribune.
The status of Abyei was supposed to be decided in a referendum in January 2011, but the two sides could not agree on the participation of Misseriya nomads in the vote.
However, in May 2011, two months before South Sudan’s secession, the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) took control of the area, displacing up to 110,000 people civilians.
Until now, the majority of those displaced from the disputed region have reportedly not returned to the region, due to the lack of a civilian administration and the presence of landmines, according to the United Nations.
On 13 January the two sides are to meet in Addis Ababa at the level of Abyei Joint Oversight Committee (AJOC) to discuss the formation of administrative and legislative bodies as agreed in the recent meeting between president Omer Al-Bashir and Salva Kiir.
Koul Deng Kuol, the Abyei paramount chief, said they have left the matter before the international community to amply judge as to which of the two parties has been "playing tricks" over settling the final status of the disputed area.
"Our people have a hope in the international community which have shown the will to mediate between the two sides," Kuol told Sudan Tribune.
The international community now needs to engage more forcefully, both diplomatically and financially, to pull the two countries from the brink of returning to war, he added.
The paramount chief particularly urged the United Nations Security Council (UNSC to give area the "same level of priority that it has accorded other countries.”
"We were hopeful that the international community, particularly the African Union and the UN Security Council would push the two parties to respect the time-frame of the agreements that they signed in September and implement them immediately," Kuol said.
Failure to implement these agreements will undermine the efforts to bring peace and enemies of stability will advantage to return these countries to war, he stressed.