October 28, 2013 (JUBA) – South Sudan’s former vice-president, Riek Machar, has called on the two governments of Sudan and South Sudan to recognise the will of the Dinka Ngok people of Abyei as shall be determined by the outcome of the ongoing unilateral referendum exercise.
- South Sudan former vice president Riek Machar (AP/Mackenzie Knowles-Coursin)
He said only the people of Abyei shall determine their political destiny in the three-day plebiscite which started on Sunday and is expected to end on Tuesday. The outcome of the vote is expected to be announced on Thursday, 31 October.
Machar, the first deputy chairperson of the ruling party in South Sudan (SPLM), on Monday congratulated the SPLM branch in Abyei as well as some other civil society organizations for assisting in the referendum process.
He urged the government of the republic of South Sudan to come out clearly in recognition of the will of the people of Dinka Ngok irrespective of whether they choose to join Sudan or South Sudan.
The people of Abyei, he said, have suffered for over a hundred years since 1905 when they were administratively transferred to South Kordofan by the then British colonial administration.
“Nobody else should decide their destiny on their behalf, only they themselves should”, he stressed.
He equally called on the African Union (AU) to support the will of the people and reminded the United Nations Interim Security Force in Abyei (UNISFA) to continue exercising their mandate by providing protection to the people of Abyei during the voting exercises.
The former vice-president, who is plan to run for 2015 presidential election, has been vocal in support of the unilateral conduct of referendum by the Dinka Ngok in Abyei as proposed earlier by the AU.
Last week, he issued a statement encouraging the people of Abyei to go ahead with the planned unilateral referendum exercise, explaining that the court of arbitration in The Hague on 22 July 2009 ruled ownership of the Abyei-proper to the Dinka Ngok people without the Misseriya, who also got some land curved out to them from the former greater Abyei area.
Sudan and South Sudan, failed to reach an agreement on the formation of a commission to supervise the conduct of the plebiscite as they went back to the pre-court ruling period where the Misseriya were claimed to be part of the referendum in Abyei area.
South Sudan’s president, Salva Kiir Mayardit, announced two weeks ago that there was no insight for an agreement with his counter-part, Omer Hassan Al Bashir, on Abyei even if they discussed the matter for a hundred years.
Kiir suggested that the whole process should be handed over to the AU to find a solution to the deadlock.
Juba has also announced it would distance itself from the unilateral referendum process and agreed with Khartoum during the recent summit by the two presidents on a proposed formation of a joint administration inclusive of both Dinka Ngok and Misseriya tribes.