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S. Sudan’s Kiir writes to AU over Abyei conflict with Sudan


October 11, 2013 (JUBA) - The South Sudanese president Salva Kiir has officially written to the African Union (AU) over the deadlock and subsequent failure to strike a deal with neighbouring Sudan on how to resolve the dispute over Abyei.

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South Sudan’s Salva Kiir at the African Union summit in Addis Ababa (goss/Kenneth Thomas)

In his 9 October letter addressed to the AU Commission (AUC), Kiir provides a descriptive account of the genesis of the decades-old conflict, as well as outlining the reasons why the two sides have so far failed to resolve their differences over the disputed region.

The letter, delivered by the country’s foreign minister, Barnaba Marial Benjamin, demanded that the continental body takes full responsibility of the matter.

The AU High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP), chaired by the former South African president Thabo Mbeki, last year recommended that the long-awaited referendum on the status of the disputed region be held this month.

A referendum in Abyei was to be held simultaneously with that of South Sudan in January 2011, but both Sudan and South Sudan failed to agree on who was eligible to participate in the vote.

While South Sudan backed the AU panel’s proposal and want a referendum involving the Ngok Dinka, who are resident in the area, Sudan has demanded that the Arab nomadic Misseriya, who enter the area periodically in search of water and pasture for their animals, be allowed to participate.

Khartoum also insists that interim institutions be established before any plebiscite take place in the contested oil-producing region.

Kiir’s letter, Marial said, informs the AU Commission chairperson about South Sudan’s impossibility to reach an understanding with Sudan anytime soon, citing the repeated failure of the two heads of states to strike a deal over Abyei’s final status.

“The message is basically about efforts the government has made to resolve the issue with the government of Sudan without success. You may recall that the two presidents have had the opportunity to discuss at length the issue of Abyei in various forums and places. Direct discussions have been held at all levels, including summits between the two presidents in Addis Ababa, Juba and Khartoum but [both were] not until now able to come out with an agreement on the final status of Abyei”, Marial told Sudan Tribune on Friday.

“The president is convinced that he would never agree with [Sudanese] president [Omer Hassan] al-Bashir even if they were to be allowed to discuss the status for [a] hundred years and therefore decided to request the African Union Commission to take complete and full responsibility”, he added.

He said the letter asks the AU to include Abyei referendum as “an urgent matter on the agenda to be discussed during the upcoming AU head of states summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on Saturday.

“It calls for an extraordinary meeting of the African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) to finally endorse the AUHIP proposal, as well as take bold and decisive action to initiate the formation of the Abyei referendum commission to conduct the vote in October as was already proposed and approved by the AUPSC”, the minister said.

The letter calls on the continental body to appoint the chairperson of the commission to ask both Sudan and South Sudan to send their nominees to participate in the composition of the referendum, he added.

According to Marial, Kiir’s letter also urges Sudan to complete an immediate, full and unconditional withdrawal of its forces in Abyei and to allow the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) to take full control over the area as mandated by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution 1990 issued in 2011.


Meanwhile, the deputy SPLM leader, Riek Machar, called on the European Union on Friday to support the conduct of the Abyei referendum, stressing that South Sudan’s ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) has always remained committed to the successful conduct of a unilateral vote in the disputed region.

During a meeting held in Juba with Rosalind Marsden, the EU representative for the two Sudans, the former vice-president also called on the European body to send its observers to Abyei to witness the exercise and recognise the outcome of the vote.


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  • 12 October 2013 08:12, by Pure Nationalist

    Weakness of the indigenous is a key problem, they were told by Dr. Riak to form their police immediately after his return from Hague but they didn’t understand and now their land is to be taken at day light, they should be in front and other S. Sudanese behind them. Many pastoralists use to cross into Upper Nile State up to Ethiopia border, they have never claim land ownership

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    • 12 October 2013 08:24, by Mi diit

      Incompetent Kiir has surrendered Abyei to Bashir secretely.

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      • 12 October 2013 10:34, by R@in Deng

        Mi diit plus other guys:
        Please, respect is key of life. if you don’t respect IVP, it main that you are stupid. Pesident is respectful guy not like 1991 rebel [Dr Machar].

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        • 12 October 2013 13:48, by Nyakuzuny

          R@ing Deng Brother we will not respecting every Illiterate leader in this Country we are all supporting Dr. Riek Machar for up coming 2015 Election and we believe that he will win.

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    • 12 October 2013 09:21, by jijury

      Dr. Riek Went to Hague to rescue Ngok Dinka from Arabized Nubian government in the north. He worked tirelessly and won the case now incompetent Salva want to give it back to Arabized government again. Salva completely failed to even mention about Abyei after all these talks simply because Bashir government gave him a big check. Please if you can’t handle South Sudan nation issues step down quietly

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  • 12 October 2013 08:14, by Angelo Achuil

    This is good for Abyei but not enough - president need to pubicly lay out alternative should AU continue being indifferent in this urgent matter and publicly calls for allies (by names) support against any possible threats sabotaging Abyei’s chance of decision. Preemptive diplomacy is best for Abyei for "however strong you are, you still need allies" and those allies need not be secreto

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    • 12 October 2013 09:12, by dude

      how did he write it. The guy doesn’t have any diplomatic tongue.

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      • 12 October 2013 11:37, by Bentiu son

        Dude bravo the letter was written by his submissive n puppet Dr.Marial Benjamin Bil,Kiir never n will never write official letter like that in his life.Look his weakness n cowardice,first, he didn’t address the issue of Abyei while with Bashir both in Juba n Khartoum.Secondly,Kiir should directly address the angry South Sudanese and Abyei people in Juba rather than sent a letter to AU.

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  • 12 October 2013 10:30, by Abyei Propaganda

    Plz spare us of this nonsense called Abyei. We are tired. Abyei agendum is a trade fair project that benefits few Abeyi sons/daughters. Was the 21 yrs of war about Abyei or New Sudan that includes Abyei? It is pity that they killed Garang who could be flying Sudan national flag in Khartoum, and that AByei issue could be outdated. In fact it is an outdated agendum. GO TO HELL IF YOU DON’T WANT.

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  • 12 October 2013 19:59, by Nyakuzuny

    let us Prayer South Sudanese for our Brothers Ngok Dinka will remaining to North will never came to be South Sudanese now Kiir Mayardit he is already Rejected the Dinka Ngok.

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  • 12 October 2013 21:22, by Chol Mading

    This is the result of weak government. Our president H.E Kiirdit has failed us, Abyei won’t conduct referendum,and Jalaba will continue to take part of our land and its oil. President has no support from SPLM leadership and the citizen of South Sudan. We need a new direction in order for our citizens to realize what they have sacrificed for. our citizens should never face these conditions...

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  • 12 October 2013 21:31, by Chol Mading

    ...insecurity, hunger and many more. President needs clear directions and good advisers who understand country is bigger than tribal issues. If Kirdit wants a place in the history of this country, he must implement democracy and walk away from dictatorship and stop killing the citizens he wants to rule. I am a dinka and I really don’t like the turn that our president is taking and the speed he’s o

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