Home | News    Thursday 9 May 2013

African presidents condemn killing of Abyei tribal chief

May 8, 2013 (JUBA) – A number of key Africans presidents have condemned the killing of Ngok Dinka chief Kuol Deng Kuol in the contested border region of Abyei, warning that the incident poses a grave threat to stability and peace between the countries.

President of Uganda Yoweri K Museveni in 2005 (AP Photo/Martin Cleaver)

South African president Jacob Zuma made the comments in a strongly-worded statement read on South Sudan Television (SSTV) on Wednesday, while Ugandan president Yoweri Kaguta Museveni described the killing as an “act of terrorism”.

In a statement seen by Sudan Tribune, Museveni called on the international community to provide support to the United Nations peacekeeping forces in Abyei in conducting a proper investigation to ensure those responsible for the attack are held accountable.

The Ugandan president, a close ally of South Sudan, also warned that the incident posed a significant threat to regional stability and peaceful coexistence between the two countries, particularly for communities in border areas.

The Ngok Dinka paramount chief was killed on Saturday on his way back to Abyei town after a UN convoy he was travelling in was attacked by armed members of the nomadic Arab Misseriya tribe following a visit to an area further north.

He was part of a joint government delegation from Juba and Khartoum that were visiting the region for a consultative meeting on how the two sides could accelerate discussions to form a temporary administration in the area. Two Ethiopian peacekeepers were also killed during the incident.

His death is viewed in the South as a Khartoum-backed assassination and has generated widespread public anger, with many senior officials calling for immediate military action.

Zuma acknowledged that the incident has threatened to further destabilise Abyei, as well as the progress recently achieved by Sudan and South Sudan in addressing their common security and socio-economic concerns.

“I wish to extend our deepest condolences to the Ngok Dinka community and the government of Ethiopia, the home country of the UN peacekeepers killed in the incident, as well as to the families of those killed and injured,” Zuma said in the statement.

He also urged the leadership of the two countries to ensure that those responsible for the attack are brought to justice.

“I also call on the leadership of Sudan and South Sudan to exercise restraint and to ensure that the current situation does not spiral out of control”, he added.

Zuma further urged the parties to the conflict in the region to work with the Abyei Joint Oversight Committee (AJOC) to conduct a transparent and effective investigation into the incident.

He has also urged the two countries to unconditionally facilitate the movement of UN personnel seeking access to Abyei either for immediate assessment, or to conduct and respond to the daily needs of humanitarian-related activities in the region.

Zuma reiterated both Sudan and South Sudan’s commitment to all agreements signed and the determination to implement them in an effort to normalise and enhance bilateral relations, which he said would likely assist both sides in establishing temporary arrangements for the Abyei administration.

The governments of Norway, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Zambia and the UK have also issued statements condemning the attack through their representatives in Juba.