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UN agrees to withdraw Ethiopian troops from Abyei: statement

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Ethiopian peacekeepers in Abyei on 14 August 2016 (UNISFA photo)August 23, 2021 (KHARTOUM) - The United Nations will replace the Ethiopian force deployed in the Abyei Area with troops from other countries Contributing to UN peacekeeping operations, Sudan announced on Monday.

Khartoum had asked the United Nations last April to withdraw the Ethiopian force from the border town on the grounds that Addis was no longer a neutral party.

"It is not conceivable to accept Ethiopian forces deployed in the strategic depth of Sudan while the Ethiopian troops are massing on the eastern borders of Sudan," said the Sudanese foreign minister on 6 April.

On Monday, Sudanese Foreign Minister Maryam Al-Sadiq held a virtual meeting with the UN Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa Parfait Onanga-Anyanga with the participation of U.N. peacekeeping chief Jean-Pierre Lacroix and the head of UN Department of Operational Support Atul Khare.

In a statement released after the meeting, the foreign ministry announced that the meeting discussed the situation in the Abyei Area and the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA).

"It was agreed to withdraw the Ethiopian component from the UNISFA during the next three months at the request of Sudan," added the statement.

Al-Mahdi welcomed the UN positive response and its understanding of Sudan’s request to replace the Ethiopian forces. She further pledged to provide all the needed facilities for a "smooth exit" of the Ethiopian troops from the border region.

Days before the independence of South Sudan, the UN Security Council authorized the deployment of a peacekeeping force to the disputed Abyei Area on 27 June 2011.

Currently, there are over 3500 Ethiopian troops deployed in the area. At the time the ousted President Omer al-Bashir who was a close ally to the late Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi had requested that this mention be exclusively formed by Ethiopian soldiers.

Initially, the mission was deployed to provide security and protect civilians following the bloody attacks in the claimed area. On December 14, 2012, the Security Council expanded UNISFA’s mandate to include monitoring along the entire border between North and South Sudan.

(ST)

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