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SPLM does not intend to compromise over Abyei

October 29, 2010 (JUBA) - The south’s ruling party the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement on Friday dismissed allegations that it would compromise the future of Abyei in order to secure approval of independence of the south from the National Congress Party who control the central government.

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A man from the Dinka tribe holds a placard during a demonstration calling for the immediate formation of the Abyei referendum commission outside the United Nations headquarters in Khartoum September 23, 2010 (Reuters)

Tensions over the future of the oil producing region are mounting on daily basis with some observers fearing that a confrontation in Abyei could trigger a return to civil war.

Abyei, which lies on the north-south border, is scheduled to hold a referendum in January to determine whether it will remain in the north or join what could be newly independent south Sudan.

Under a 2005 peace deal the south is due to hold a simultaneous self determination vote.

The Abyei vote has been delayed a dispute over who is allowed to take part in the poll.

A clause of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement identified Abyei as a region belonging to the nine Dinka Ngok chiefdoms, who align themselves with the SPLM and the south.

But since the deal, members of the cattle herding Missiriya tribe, who enter Abyei for a few months each year from southern Kordofan and the NCP have agitated to be allowed to participate in the vote.

The SPLM have rejected the proposal, despite the insistence of the NCP, causing talks to resolve the issue to reach an impasse.

On Friday Dinka Ngok youth from Abyei issued a strong warning against any attempt to include members of the Missiriya, saying the proposal had no basis

As well as the voter eligibility, the two sides have also failed to agree on the composition of the committee to run the referendum.

Michael Makuei Lueth, a senior member of the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement who is minister of parliamentary affairs in the regional government told Sudan Tribune on Friday that his party will not compromise future of Abyei for independence of the region.

"I want to make it clear that the SPLM leadership will not trade Abyei with independence of South Sudan because Comprehensive Peace Agreement is very clear to all including the two parties in reference to the National Congress Party and the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement. In the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, the right for people of South Sudan and Abyei to vote during the internationally monitored and separate referenda exists,” said Makuei.

"If there are people who think that SPLM will concede Abyei for independence of South Sudan, they should know that SPLM has repeatedly rejected attempts by the National Congress Party to include Missiriya in the referendum vote, because their arguments lack references, he adds.

Makuei said the people of Abyei have the constitutional rights as enshrined in the interim constitution and referendum law to vote at a referendum which would allow them decide whether to remain part of Kordofan or return to the south from where the region was transferred in 1905.

"This is a constitutional right for people of Abyei and should not be the subject of any discussions for compromise. It is their rights. Similarly, the people of South Sudan have their constitutional rights to vote at [an] internationally monitored referendum on self determination provided in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement to decide their political destiny from rest of the Sudan,” explained Makuei

Therefore, he said, “no one expects the other to compromise the future of the other. It is the people from the two regions which will decide their own future through voting not the SPLM or National Congress Party.”

On Wednesday, an estimated number of 2,000 people predominantly members of the cattle owning Missiriya tribe, took to the streets and central town of Muglad, protesting against attempts to exclude them from participating in the forthcoming vote in the region.

The group addressed by tribal leaders including Amir Muktar Babo Nimir, submitted another position paper to the office of the United Nations in the area rejecting their exclusion from referendum vote and warned that they would fight anyone who would attempt to prevent them voting in the area if poll takes place.

Hassan Musa Bilal, a one of the Missiriya section’s leaders, confirmed in an interview with Sudan Tribune from El-Obeid in South Kordofan on his way to Muglad, that they will not accept anything less being included in Abyei referendum.

"Yes, there was a peaceful demonstration on Wednesday. Our people took to the street to demonstrate against injustice in dealing with our rights in Abyei,” said Hassan.

The tribal leader also accused the parties to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement of neglecting direct talks between Dinka Ngok and Missiriya tribe at the grass root levels and that they are wasting time and resources on discussions outside the region.

"These people are joking and waste time and resources. If they are serious and need permanent solution, they should allow us in reference to Missiriya and our brothers from Dinka Ngok to initiate our own ways and mechanisms to settle any differences,” said Hassan, adding that they have no problem with Dinka Ngok.

He told SudanTribune that the "Missiriya and Dinka Ngok have no differences which cannot be settled. We have lived together for years as brothers and sisters eating and drinking from the same pot in reference to Abyei without any problem. Our problem appeared after the signing of the CPA which demarcates borders. Why borders and we have do not problems between us. Borders are created for those who have territorial differences. For us with brothers from Dinka Ngok, we have never had any territorial differences since time of Amir Deng Majok and Babo Nimir. Our people have lived and interacted peaceful as one and the same family," said Hassan.

He said that the SPLM was the source of the current differences between Dinka Ngok and Misssiriya.

"We have had any difference with brothers from Dinka. Our problem is the SPLM. The SPLM is destroying our ancestral relationship. The SPLM wants to divide us [from our…] brothers because of their own political differences with the NCP. We will not accept it and if they want the Missiriya as community would be forced to use any possible means to get their rights to vote if the two parties cannot resolve their difference amicably,” he warned.

Hassan described his tribe as peace loving and caring community.

The "Missiriya are generally peace loving and caring people. We initiate peace and support peaceful coexistence with our neighbors but we fear nothing except Allah […] therefore, we will not accept any attempt to undermine our rights. If our right to vote in this referendum is not given, we will use any means possible to get it,” warned Hassan.

(ST)