August 27, 2013 (JUBA) - Youth from the contested region of Abyei have warned against unilaterally conducting a referendum, despite the Sudanese government’s rejection of the move, unless the two Sudans agree on formation of an electoral body.
- Abyei youth hold a demonstrations in Juba (getty)
“Our people have suffered a great deal in the hand of the rogue and ruthless government in Khartoum and we decided not to unilaterally conduct our own referendum because we though the two sides would agree, but it is becoming clearer that Sudan is just buying time and wasting resources, Acuil Deng”, an executive member of Abyei Youth Union said Tuesday.
He insists that Khartoum knows the referendum results would not be in its favour, hence the cause of rejection, but not because of legitimacy in the claims put forward.
“The national congress party does not want the referendum to be conducted because they fear [the] result of the vote would not be in their favour”, Deng told Sudan Tribune.
The youth leader said they are in the process of completing a mobilization campaign, which encourages people to return home for registration to take part in the vote.
He claimed more than 15,000 have so far returned for vote.
“Most of our people have returned because they were encouraged to return. We launched a campaign for voluntary return early march,” stressed the youth leader.
We are now completing this campaign because majority of those who have returned have settled and are “ready" for the vote, he added.
AU TO RESPECT RESULTS
Meanwhile, the youth leader urged the African Union to respect the result of the vote, warning that any use of force by Sudan to disrupt the exercise would be "disastrous" and would fight back.
“We have always listened to the voice of reasons and wisdom by our president. We have also been feeling that the African Union would stand by its proposal and ensures that it is implemented, but it is appearing the AU itself is divided to act”, he said.
The only two options now left, he further said, were to conduct the referendum and announce the results to decide the final status of the disputed oil-producing region.
Miyen Kuol, another youth member, said they will no longer entertain indiscriminate killing of civilians, mostly women and children, even if each of the two sides have failed to reach a consensus.
“We will not give up whatsoever. We will continue to defend ourselves with any means at our disposal," he said, clarifying that they are not declaring war, but that they had no option.
He however urged the AU and the international community to respect their choice, describing it as their right to decide where to where to belong.
Sudanese government last week reiterated its rejection to hold a referendum on the future of Abyei area, stressing that priority should be given to establish local institutions and provide service to the civilians there.
Eight years after the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), which paved the way to the independence of South Sudan, the two parties have failed to organise a crucial vote because they disagree over who can take part in this referendum.