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S. Sudan denies conceding Abyei region to Sudan


March 22 , 2016 (JUBA) - South Sudan’s foreign affairs minister has denied reports that he authorised an official response to a United Nations Human Rights report on his country’s situation, which referred to natives of the oil-producing region of Abyei as non-South Sudanese.

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South Sudan’s foreign affairs minister, Barnaba Marial Benjamin (Photo: Reuters)

North and South Sudan are yet to resolve the status of the disputed region.

“I would like to make a clarification because in the media it was quoted that the ministry of foreign affairs has said clearly that the people of Abyei are not South Sudanese. I would like to make it clear that the issue of Abyei is clearly stated that they have a joint sovereignty of the Republic of South Sudan and of the Republic of Sudan and any decision that is to be taken by the two governments, will rely on the people of Abyei decision through a referendum to decide which country they should belong to,” Barnaba Marial Benjamin told reporters in the South Sudan capital, Juba Tuesday.

“So the decision of Abyei nationality, whether they should belong to South Sudan or Sudan is purely of the nine Ngok Dinka that will decide, through a referendum,” he added.

According the minister, the status of Abyei, a contested region, is contained in the protocol of Abyei which the government of Sudan and South Sudan’s governing Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) signed as part of the comprehensive peace agreement.

Marial said he was aware the inhabitants Abyei ethnically belong to South Sudan.

“We all know if you talk about the ethnicity of the Dinka of Abyei geographical and socially and culturally, you don’t get any Dinka outside the territory of South Sudan. This is known. They [Dinka] are not like other ethnic groups that may you find across the borders. We must know, even anthropologically, the Dinka are always known to be found in South Sudan,” said the South Sudanese foreign minister.

He further added, “So I would like to stress to my brothers and sisters of Abyei that the government, as ministry of foreign affairs, has never made such statement that denies the right of the people of Abyei according to Abyei protocol to which the government adhere to through the auspices of the former president of South Africa Mbeki through the African Union High Implementation Panel [AUHIP]”.

The minister said, Luka Biong, referred to in his response as a Sudanese national, was at once a minister in the president’s office just like many other sons and daughters of Abyei who are currently working within South Sudan government systems as nationals.

In its report, the UN said Biong’s dismissal from Juba university on the orders of President Salva Kiir violated his rights and freedoms. Biong, who headed a department at the state owned institution, had organized a public lecture to discuss the 28 new states.

“So really to dwell on this issue that the ministry of foreign affairs quoted in certain circles, has denied the presence of sons and daughters of Abyei in South Sudan is not correct. There is no such quotation,” stressed Marial.

“We are aware, we would like to make this very clear that it is reflected in the document both Sudan and South Sudan as signed during the days of the comprehensive peace agreement that they have a joint sovereignty over Abyei until the sons of the nine Ngok Dinka decide in a referendum which country they would belong to and that is what the government will insist to have,” he added.

The minister said South Sudan had not disowned the people from Abyei as perceived.

“So those sectors which are saying that we have thrown out the sons and daughters of Abyei are not true. That is why I have to call this special press conference so that we are clearly understood,” he said.

Marial, however, said South Sudan was still negotiating with Sudan, through the AUHIP, to ensure the issue of the oil-producing region is resolved peacefully through the rights of the people concerned.


Meanwhile, Biong said he received a call from Marial, who reportedly apologised for what had transpired, while assuring him that government would prepare another official response to replace the one already dispatched to the UN human rights body.

He urged the natives of Abyei to use this as an opportunity to press the South Sudanese government into recognising the outcome of the community’s unofficial referendum, which was conducted in 2013. Sudan and South Sudan did not recongnise this referendum.

Biong said people should not to overact to the matter, but use it to “realize our strategic political objective of recognition of the outcome of the referendum and mobilize friends, people of South Sudan and civil society and all political parties to support the case”.


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  • 22 March 2016 22:54, by Akol Liai Mager

    Around 12 Millions South Sudanese at home and in the scatter have heard from the President of the Nation and senior figures in his government as saying; "Anybody dare to ask us about Abyei must know that it’s Deng Alor, Luka Biong Deng and Edward Lino" because they have opposed the President and therefore, the liberation of Abyei is not a business of South Sudan’s government. That sounds like it.

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    • 23 March 2016 00:20, by lino

      What opposing the President has to do with Abyei Issue? Abyei Issue is greater than the President’s chair brother.
      South Sudanese have to know how differentiate between political, personal differences on one hand and National Issues on the other!!!

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      • 23 March 2016 09:29, by Ayom Ayom

        I don’t know why Media always want to expose top secrets. We don’t want to talk about it now. Abyei is one of the state belong to South Sudan. In reference to referendum that was conducted, Unilateral declaration is underway as soon as we resolves our internal issues

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      • 23 March 2016 09:56, by Stephen kuach

        I believed if the people of Abyei would have voted to remain united with the North,I guaranteed Sudan government would have recognized their result a minute right after the announcement,if South Sudanese government knows exactly that the nine Ngok Dinka are Southerners then what take them so long to come out and show their support..

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    • 23 March 2016 02:02, by Hardlinner

      Kiir should stop his stupidity of tasking Abyei issue in hand of Deng alor, Lino and Luka Biong. failing to solve Abyei issue have already failed kiir leadership. no inche of south sudan shall be left out simply because the politicians from that part oppose the president. Abyei people to dinka are more than kiir leadership and his political wrangling with Abyei politicians.

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      • 23 March 2016 07:48, by Joseph Canada

        Hardliner, This time I agree with you 101%. The leadership of the politicians we have in South Sudan don’t care about the nation but how they can Cash from the nation. Thats why they rather hide the money in their offices than Building the Banking system. We the civilians are lied to and told more about our tribal lines but we are not told the real national issue. Its all about Blind and steal.

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        • 23 March 2016 07:53, by Joseph Canada

          They are living great life while those soldiers fighting to protect them (wether Opposition or the Rulling) and they have not been paid for 7 month and still loyal to them. The only gift they get it the bullet from the other side. I am just wondering when will the South Sudanese specially those led to believe along the tribal lines come to the senses that they have been sold.

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  • 23 March 2016 08:19, by Ajongtar

    Hahaahahahaha now look at this Dinkaz your done with Edward Lino, Luka Biong Kuol, Piang Deng Kuol, Kuol Diem Kuol, Francis Deng Kuol now you remain with Dend Alor Kuol.

    But I am afraid that some body like Piang Deng Kuol will wage a war against you Dinka Kiir.

    Becouse I know who Piang is, during 1995 to 2002 when we fought Raza.


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