Home | News    Sunday 31 July 2005

UN envoy to mediate in Sudan’s Abyei tribal feud

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KHARTOUM, July 30 (AFP) — UN Sudan envoy Jan Pronk will next week chair a meeting between two tribes locked in a heated territorial dispute over the southern oil-rich region of Abyei, the SUNA news agency reported Saturday.

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Jan Pronk

The Misariyah and Dinka Ngok tribes each claims ownership of the territory and the Misariyah have already angrily rejected the boundaries proposed by an international commission for the district.

Pronk Saturday briefed President Omar al-Beshir on the outcome of a visit he had recently paid to Abyei and said the two sides had shown willingness to sit down together in a meeting under the UN envoy’s chairmanship to discuss their dispute.

The Misariyah are Arab nomads who formed pro-government militias during the two-decade war between Khartoum and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, while the Dinka Ngok are mainly farmers who sided with the SPLA in the conflict.

Under a January peace deal between the government and the SPLA the district is one of three granted a special status during six years of interim autonomy in the south, leading up to a referendum on independence.

The UN envoy told Beshir that he would return to Abyei next week for the meeting, SUNA said.

Abyei’s fate was one of the main stumbling blocks in years of tortuous negotiations between the government and the SPLA that culminated in the peace deal, under which the south will vote on independence after six years of interim autonomy.

Under an agreement reached in May last year, special provisions apply to Abyei and two other disputed districts on the north-south border — the Nuba mountains and southern Blue Nile state.

It also establishes a formula for sharing out oil revenues from the district and provides for a separate referendum in Abyei in 2011 on whether the district wants to join the north or south.

Abyei was heavily depopulated during the civil war — Africa’s longest-running conflict.

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