January 14, 2012 (JUBA) – The Government of the Kingdom Lesotho says it strongly supports the African Union proposal that a referendum in the contested oil-producing region of Abyei be held in October this year.
- Lesotho’s Prime Minister, Motsoahae Thomas Thabane (Lestimes)
Lesotho’s Prime Minister, Motsoahae Thomas Thabane, South Sudan government news website reported, insists the two Sudan’s should follow the protocols of the 2005 peace deal, which ended over two decades of civil war between them.
Thabane remarks came after a briefing on the status of Abyei by South Sudan’s Minister for the presidency, Emmanuel Lowilla in the Lesotho capital, Monday.
The Prime Minister reportedly assured the young nation of his country’s support for the 27 September 2012 cooperation agreements, signed by South Sudan’s President, Salva Kiir and his Sudanese counterpart, Omer al-Bashir in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Last year, the AU mediation team has proposed holding a referendum in Abyei this October, but that 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.
However, Sudan swiftly rejected the plan, which received the blessing of the AU Peace and Security Council, suggesting the matter be referred to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to make it binding.
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.
Ali Karti, Sudan’s foreign minister said Monday that the 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 in a press statement.
"Everything we felt during the prior period indicates that this dossier was decided to remain in the African Union," he added.
South Sudan, on Thursday, warned of its looming war with neighboring Sudan should the two countries fail to resolve their outstanding post-session issues, including the dispute over Abyei.