January 13, 2013 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese government on Sunday expressed confidence that its dispute with South Sudan over the border region of Abyei will not make it to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).
- Sudan’s Foreign Minister Ali Karti (Reuters)
Sudan’s foreign minister Ali Karti said in press statements today that the African Union (AU) is capable of resolving the long-standing conflict without the need to resort to the UNSC.
"I confirmed even before the last [AU Peace and Security Council] meeting that the Sudan and South Sudan dossier will not go to the UNSC due to the responsiveness we witnessed from African leaders we met," Karti said.
"Everything we felt during the prior period indicates that this dossier was decided to remain in the African Union" he added.
Last year, the AU mediation team has proposed holding a referendum in Abyei next October but only those residing permanently in the area will be allowed to vote in the plebiscite and decide whether they want to join Sudan or South Sudan.
This proposal would effectively make the majority of voters come from the Dinka Ngok tribe, aligned with South Sudan thus putting the Arab Misseriya nomads, who spend several months in Abyei every year for grazing, at a disadvantage.
The mediators said that the exclusion of the Misseriya nomads comes in line with the decision of the Hague-based arbitration court which defined the territory of the Ngok Dinka nine chiefdoms in July 2009.
Sudan swiftly rejected the plan which received the blessing of the AUPSC which wanted to refer the matter to the UNSC to make it binding.
But last month the AUPSC, while affirming its concurrence with the proposal, delayed the UNSC referral pending a decision by AU leaders who meet for regular summit this month in Ethiopia.
The Sudanese diplomat said that a recent tour by first Vice President Ali Osman Taha and second Vice President Al-Haj Adam Youssef to many African countries was aimed at rallying these countries against any unfavorable decision relating to Abyei.
The message from Sudan to the African leaders was that this issue should remain in the African house, Karti said.
The recent meeting between Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir and his South Sudan counterpart Salva Kiir resulted in an understanding to begin implementing a series of deals signed last September.
Karti said that this positive breakthrough will provide more incentive for the AU not to refer Abyei dispute to the UNSC.
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.
Yesterday South Sudan’s ruling party warned that lack of movement on the issue of Abyei could mean a return to civil war.