October 25, 2013 (JUBA) - The African Union will now take full responsibility to resolve the dispute between the two Sudans over the final status of Abyei, a South Sudanese official said.
- Abyei youth hold a demonstrations in Juba (getty)
“The issue of Abyei remains one of the top priorities. We have done everything in our capacity as the government to ensure that the dispute is resolved amicably. We accepted the proposal by African Union High Level Implementation Panel which proposes the conduct of the referendum this month, but the government of Sudan, which is party to the conflict, as you know, did not accept the proposal”, said information minister Michael Makuei Lueth.
This is why the status of the area, until now, remains unresolved, he added.
The minister, however, said his country had done everything possible to ensure the conflict with its northern neighbour over the oil-producing region is amicable resolved, but “the international community was exerting little effort to convince Sudan”.
“The government [of South Sudan] has now asked the African Union Commission to take complete responsibility in an accordance to the 2012 roadmap and United Nations [Security] Council resolution 2046 which gives the continental body to take a decision in the event that the two countries have failed to reach an understanding over the dispute”, Lueth stressed.
The minister, while briefing reporters on Friday, also hinted on a letter the country’s president Salva Kiir earlier penned to the continental body, in which he asked for its involvement in Abyei matter.
“He [Kiir] was very clear in the letter. He states clearly that he does not see any possibility of reaching an understanding with the government of Sudan very soon and so he gave his recommendations to the African Union commission to take complete charge of the matter”, the minister told reporters in Juba.
“So this issue has gone beyond the capacity of our government”, he added, but said efforts were still underway for a possible solution.
Kiir and his Sudanese counterpart, Omer Hassan Al-Bashir on Tuesday only agreed on general terms for administration and policing of the contested region, which is to be handled by both parties.
The two leaders, at the summit held in Juba, also agreed “to expedite the establishment of Abyei Administration, Council and Police organs, and reaffirmed that the 2% share of Abyei Area’s oil revenue, including arrears, will be paid to the Abyei Administration.”
Resolving the final status of Abyei still remains a major issue between the Sudan and South Sudan after the latter broke away from the former in July 2011, leaving several unresolved post-secession issues.
Last year, the AU mediation team proposed holding a referendum in Abyei this month, but stated 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.
The Sudanese government, however, rejected the AU proposal aimed at breaking the deadlock over Abyei referendum saying it ignored that the eligibility of the Misseriya.
Last week, the Ngok Dinka community declared they would go ahead and conduct a referendum in the area later this month after a general conference its members held in Abyei town.
The move, which was inadvisable by African and international bodies, would put the area at high risk of communal violence between the Ngok Dinka and Misseriya who claim also the ownership of the region.
South Sudan said on Wednesday that it does not support the conduct of a unilateral referendum to determine the final status of the oil-contested border region questioning what its outcome would achieve if it is not recognised by either country.