October 27, 2013 (KHARTOUM) - Sudan postponed the visit of the African Union Peace and Security Council (PSC) to Abyei because it did not want that this trip to the disputed area coincide with the preparations of the unilateral referendum, said foreign minister Ali Karti on Sunday.
- People cast their votes in an abandoned school used as a polling center in the disputed border region of Abyei, whose ownership is claimed by both Sudan and South Sudan, Sunday, Oct. 27, 2013 (Photo AP/Mackenzie Knowles-Coursin)
Karti made the denial following a meeting with the president Omer Al-Bashir to brief him about the content of a communiqué the PSC issued on Sunday accusing Khartoum of obstructing a visit the African body to Abyei scheduled on 26 and 27 October.
The statement of the 15-member body strongly reacted to the move of the Sudanese authorities and demanded that "Sudan must refrain from obstructing its work and extend full cooperation in support of the AU’s efforts to manage and resolve the situation in Abyei".
The visit has been postponed because the timing was not right due to arrangements (of the unilateral vote) carried out by some parties in Abyei, said Ali Karti on Sunday. “As the Council rejected these unilateral actions, we did not want its visit coincides with these preparations" he added.
"We wanted that the visit takes place far from the current jamming in Abyei", he further stressed.
In Abyei, the Nogk Dinka started casting their vote in a unilateral and symbolic referendum organised by the community. The result which is expected to express their demand to secede from Sudan and join South Sudan would be announced on Thursday.
Minister Karti also reiterated Sudan’s commitment to the decisions of the African Union and all the agreements sealed by the presidents Omer Al-Bashir and Salva Kiir on Abyei.
The presidential summit held on 22 October in Juba agreed to form Abyei transitional administration and legislative council as well as the joint police force. They are agreed on the need to reach a deal on Abyei referendum.
The Peace and Security Council despite its strong communiqué denouncing the delay of its visit to the area, called for on Juba to continue to demonstrate "utmost restraint", and urged the Ngok Dinka to refrain from any unilateral actions in Abyei.
The Council also urged Khartoum and Juba to seal an agreement on Abyei based on the proposal of the African Union panel on the two Sudans which calls to hold a referendum with the participation of the Ngok Dika only.
However the peace and security body reminded the urgent need to form the temporary administration in Abyei in line with the 20 June 2011 agreement. This step is refused by the Ngok Dinka who say they do not want to share the administration of the disputed region with the Misseriya after the rule of the international arbitration tribunal of July 2009.
Karti pointed to the rejection of South Sudanese government of the on-going unilateral vote organised the Nogk Dinka community in the area, emphasising that Juba and Khartoum have similar positions on Abyei.
The Council said it would visit Abyei on 5 and 6 November. It also urged Khartoum to cooperate with the African Union’s effort to manage and resolve the situation in Abyei.
On the other hand, the co-chair of Abyei steering committee from the Sudanese side Al-Khair Al-Faheem, met Sunday with the representative of the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) in Khartoum and urged him to stop the unilateral vote conducted by the Ngok Dinka.
Speaking to the semi-official SMC Al-Faheed said the Misseriya community presented a protest note to the UNISFA representative and called to stop the unilateral vote.
He further said he was informed by the PSC of the postponement of its visit to Abyei.
Misseriya tribal leaders recently warned that they would not accept the outcome of a referendum conducted in Abyei without their participation.
However Sudanese officials recently multiplied statements about the implementation of the cooperation agreements between the two countries and repeat Sudan’s keenness to have friendly relations with its southern neighbour.