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Khartoum wants new administration for Abyei

June 6, 2012 (KHARTOUM) - Sudan said on Wednesday that the meeting of the Abyei committee which will start on Thursday should swiftly agree on the formation of Abyei Area Administration, stressing that Juba has no reason to freeze it.

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A displaced young girl from Abyei collects water near a school where she is sheltering in Agok, South Sudan, 7 June 2008 (Reuters)

Sudan and South Sudan signed the Temporary Arrangements for the Administration and Security of the Abyei Area (TAASAA) on 20 June 2011 to end a crisis that erupted between the two parties after the seizure of the contested area by Sudanese troops one month before.

The deal states that the Chief Administrator is nominated by the South Sudanese ruling party, while the Chairperson of The Abyei Area Council, the legislative organisation, will be nominated by the Sudanese government.

However the parties failed to implement these provisions. Khartoum accused Juba of refusing to give the chairmanship of the legislative organisation to the Sudanese government.

Al-Khair Al-Faheem, co-chair of the Abyei Joint Oversight Committee (AJOC), met today with President Omar Al-Bashir and First Vice President Ali Osman Taha before leaving for Addis Ababa where the Abyei committee will meet under the auspices of the African Union mediation.

Speaking to the press after his meeting with the Sudanese president, Al-Faleem told reporters that the meetings will discuss Juba’s refusal to appoint a Sudanese at the head of the area’s legislative organisation, contrary to the provisions of last year agreement.

He further stressed that Sudan adheres to the provisions of the TAASAA, denying any justification to delay the formation of Abyei Area Administration.

Besides the establishment of Abyei administration, Thursday’s meeting is expected to discuss the formation of the joint security force, the humanitarian situation and the return of civilians displaced since May 2011, and the demarcation of Abyei border.

Delegations headed by defence ministers of the political and security committee continue their meetings in Addis Ababa over the implementation of security agreements including Abyei.

Khartoum had refused during the past period to withdraw its troops from the disputed area saying the vacuum of the administration might create troubles in Abyei as the army was also administrating it. Al-Faheem stressed that Sudan has pulled out all its troops from Abyei.

Juba accuses Khartoum of maintaining troops there. But Sudan says that only a special force protecting the oil fields are still there. The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) last week reiterated that Sudan must move all its forces out of the disputed area including the oil fields.

But Sudan still refuses and alludes to the attack on Heglig, which was captured in April by South Sudan’s army with alleged participation of Sudanese rebels who are waging war against Khartoum in South Kordofan state.

The Abyei population has to conduct a referendum on whether they want to remain in Sudan or to join the newly independent South Sudan, but the both sides disagree on who can participate in this vote.

(ST)