October 3, 2013 (JUBA) - South Sudan said Thursday that it obtained international backing in support of a plan to conduct the long-awaited referendum in the disputed oil-producing region of Abyei.
- James Wani Igga delivers a speech at the meeting of the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York City – September 26, 2013 (UN Photo/Devra Berkowitz)
James Wani Igga, the country’s vice-president revealed upon arrival from the just-concluded United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York.
“You know I am returning from the United States of America where I went to attend the meeting of the general assembly of the United Nations in New York. This meeting came at the right. It was timely because it took place at the time the whole world almost believed that South Sudan was in serious problem, especially the conflict in Jonglei, the dispute over oil transport fee with Sudan and the Abyei conflict," Igga told reporters on arrival in the capital, Juba.
This perception has now changed, he added.
A number of senior government officials were at Juba airport to witness the arrival of the vice president, who made his first official trip since his recent appointment.
The vice president, while addressing the UN assembly last week, said his country would continue to cooperate with neighbouring Sudan to implement the agreement on the final status of Abyei through a referendum fixed by the African Union High Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) for this October.
According to Igga, the AU Peace and Security Council, and the UN Security Council accepted the proposal as “representing a fair, equitable and workable solution.”
“The international community must ensure that this proposal is implemented expeditiously”, he said.
US, UK & FRANCE BACKINGS
Igga specifically cited the governments of the United States, United Kingdom and France and other African countries he did not name, as having expressed readiness to support the timely conduct the referendum.
“It was the opportunity to meet with many heads of state from different countries of the world with whom I discussed what we have done as the government and so to seek their opinions on where their support is required, especially on the Abyei conflict," the vice president remarked.
We now have assurances for full support from the international community, he added.
Last month, the AU 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.
The continental body, however, warned both nations against undertaking unilateral actions, instead encouraging implementation of earlier commitments already made.