September 28, 2013 (JUBA) – The African Union has urged Sudan and South Sudan to "urgently" resume discussions on its proposal to resolve the final status of the disputed oil-producing region of Abyei.
- Members of Abyei Joint Oversight Committee in a meeting (AU photo)
The AU Peace and Security Council, in a communiqué issued after Friday’s consultative forum on the two Sudan in New York, said participants agreed that the Abyei issue be determined through mutually-accepted arrangements.
During the discussions, participants referred to the 21 September 2013 proposal from the AU High Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP), which set October this year as the timeline for holding a referendum in Abyei.
“Participants re-affirmed the right for Abyei residents to determine their political future, and the right of continued access for migratory populations,” the communiqué reads in part.
Abyei was to hold its referendum simultaneously with that of South Sudan in January 2011, but disagreements between Sudan and South Sudan on who was eligible to vote proved a setback to the self-determination vote.
Those who attended Friday’s consultative meeting also expressed concern about the deteriorating political environment in the Abyei area and the risk that unilateral actions by Misseriya and Ngok Dinka communities could lead to security incidents costly in human lives.
They called on the Abyei Joint Oversight Committee (AJOC) to resume its activities and provide the guidance and leadership necessary for the rapid and safe return of refugees and displaced persons, a peaceful 2013-2014 Misseriya migration, and maintain Abyei a weapons free area.
The forum welcomed the commitment of Sudan and South Sudan expeditiously implement the 20 June 2011 Agreement on Temporary Arrangements for the Administration and Security of the Abyei Area, urging both governments to establish the Abyei Area Referendum Commission.
It however warned both nations against undertaking unilateral actions, instead encouraging implementation of earlier commitments made.
Meanwhile, participants who attended the consultative meeting welcomed the AUPSC decision to visit Abyei in October and that it looks forward to its assessment and recommendations.
Jan Eliasson, the United Nations deputy-secretary-general, and President Abdulsalami Abubakar of the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel chaired the New York meeting.