September 13, 2013 (AGOK, Abyei) – A senior official from Abyei has called for unity ahead of the proposed self-determination referendum in the disputed region.
- Deng Alor Kuol (Photo Reuters/Lucas Jackson)
Deng Alor, a former cabinet affairs minister, was making his first public appearance nearly three months after he was suspended by President Salva Kiir over involvement in the allegedly unauthorised transfer of $8m.
"We must be united so that we make strong position for the conduct of the referendum. We need to speak to [the] international community, particularly the African Union, to put enough pressure on Sudan to accept the September 21, 2012 proposal on resolution of the final status of Abyei. This was the proposal which the African leaders accepted as a solution to the African problem”, Alor said at a press conference held in Juba, Friday.
So [the] African Union must push Sudan to respect decision of the African Union, he stressed.
The ex-cabinet affairs minister is the current chairperson of the Abyei high national committee for referendum.
Alor, at the press conference, was flanked by Edward Lino, the co-chair of the Abyei Joint Oversight Committee (AJOC) representing South Sudan and his deputy, Deng Mading.
The international community, Alor said, would have no other excuse for the natives of Abyei, other than supporting the call for a referendum to resolve the final status of the disputed region.
“There is nothing which our people did not do for the international community not to respect their choice. Despite the suffering as the result of the continued violations of number of agreements, they decided to show respect and peacefully followed all the legal avenues beginning with negotiations which culminated to the agreement on Abyei, which is now the basis of the resolution”, he told reporters.
He further stressed that all documents the two sides signed as part of the resolution of conflict identified the region as “an area belonging to the Nine Ngok chiefdom, transferred to Kordofan province in 1905 during the British rule in Sudan before gaining self-rule in 1956.
The official, who hails from Abyei, insisted the Messeriya were not originally occupants of the disputed region, dismissing plans to make them eligible as voters in the forthcoming referendum.
Alor said the Ngok Dinka tribe would still go ahead to conduct the referendum; despite Khartoum’s continued rejection of the exercise should it exclude the Messeriya.
“It is the time the international community rallied behind the African Union proposal and exerted pressure on Khartoum to endorse it or take complete responsibility, including taking action against Sudan,” he said.
President Kiir has openly urged citizen from Abyei to go and register in large numbers so they can participate in the referendum, earmarked for October this year.
Meanwhile, the AJOC chairperson accused neighbouring Sudan of buying time and resources, saying the latter had no legal claim over the disputed region.
He said Khartoum’s stance was meant to frustrate the AU efforts towards resolving the long-standing conflict.
“Sudan is the member of the African Union which is the reason it shields the indicted president from being dragged to the International Criminal Court for crimes his government committed in Darfur, but the National Congress Party continues to backtrack with rejection of its decision,” said Lino.
Deng Mading, the deputy AJOC co-chair said sustained efforts are underway to ensure the people of Abyei return and register in large numbers ahead of the referendum.
“We have been working to make things happen. Our people have been returning home in massive number. They are determined to ensure that referendum takes place as proposed by the African Union. We are now helping them to return with flights because of the floods”, he said.