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Sudan Tribune

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Why all these dispute over Abyei protocol?

By Watts Roba Gibia Nyirigwa*

June 4, 2006 — In his speech at the joint meeting of SPLM-NCP, SPLM Chairman clearly pointed out the most crucial and sensitive issues retarding CPA implementation, and warned that “unless progress is made on Abyei rule, slow and unmonitored withdrawal of forces, delay in the formation of Joint Integrated Units, north-south 1956 boundary demarcation and questions pertaining to the accuracy of the oil revenue, I cannot see how the rest of the CPA can survive”. But despite the warning of the SPLM Chairman, the joint meeting ended barely without any consistent prescription to therapy the infected CPA. The existence of CPA requires faithfully implementation of its all terms or otherwise CPA will not survive due to the malicious infection. CPA is indivisible body and has to be implemented in full and not partial, and each side has to have same concern, commitment and respect to its signature. And I believe Douglas was correct in saying that “if one side is allowed to choose what part of CPA they implement, then the other side may wish to choose what part of CPA they implement, and then the CPA becomes full of holes and is a worthless document. It is either implemented in full or it is discarded”. Thus, the current stage is not for negotiating CPA but its implementation. Even the Abyei rule doesn’t require any re-negotiation, it requires President to act, as both parties signed Abyei protocol, agreed and signed up to agreeing to accept the boundary commission report and its immediate application, then why all this row! And that was apparent in the joint NCP and SPLM meeting, which witnessed in its close meetings according to the close sources, grave and acute disputes and exchange of bitter words between Bashir and Kiir, and it reached its climax among the participating member-committee which was set up to find solution to the issue, to the extend of beating each other by hands where both Bashir and Kiir have to intervene several times to calm the situation, particularly on the Abyei issue. And the meeting failed to make any break through on all issues, and Abyei rule remains a major controversial issue which hardly would be resolved politically unless through international arbitration.

The current Misariyah protest and petition rejecting Abyei boundary commission report, was due to the fact that they were not fully informative about the content of ABC report, but they were misinformed and incited by the Khartoum government. It is NCP who negotiated and rejected the ABC report on behalf of Misariyah. And that was obvious, as during the negotiation at Karen at the outskirt of Nairobi, when emir of Misariyah Muktar Babel Nimr told Ngok Dinka and SPLM delegation that “he was not disputing the Ngok Dinka claim to the territory they lived in, nor was he trying to claim this territory for himself. He said, we do not dispute that this is your land. What we don’t want, and what we do dispute, is you taking it to Bahr el Ghazal (in south Sudan)”. When government delegation to Karen heard what Muktar Babel Nimr had told to SPLM, they sent him back to Nairobi and said he either towed the government line or he would be dismissed. So, Muktar said in that case, he would say nothing. Based on that, Abyei commission came to conclusion that there was certain amount of dissent within the Misariyah which government was active in preventing them to hear according to Douglas. Thus, the only explanation for NCP adamant position here even after appending its signature on protocol is to have the control of oil rich Abyei, and to be annexed to north, particularly when south votes for secession in 2011 referendum.

The primary issue and core of the dispute here is not only over Abyei perimeter, but about the oil rich areas in south, and Khartoum’s desire to have its control, which starts right from Hofre Nahas in Bahr el Ghazal, oil fields in Western Upper Nile (Unity State) in Bentiu area, Manquien and Pariang which borders with southern Kordofan. As well as Melut Basis in northern Upper Nile State, Renk farming scheme which are leased by the Khartoum government to various northern farmers, and considered as part of north! The south-north boundary demarcation is now the actual pivotal game between the two partners, which in reality is a race over the oil run on one hand, and on the other hand, it has revealed the true imperialistic and gluttonous attitude of Khartoum in plundering and depriving south Sudanese from their natural wealth. Khartoum has repeatedly said that there could be no compromise over its control of land, and that is a clear indication that Khartoum is not disputing only over Abyei but the whole south-north boundary demarcation.

Thus, SPLM has to stay focus and simultaneously on all fronts, and to reach to the bottom line of every predicament instead of allowing it to be placed on shelf. As the dispute continuous over Abyei, there is fear that Khartoum government will spare no effort in making changes on ground, and in mobilizing security forces and militias on tribal lines to fight a war over a land use and over the retention of resources, whether being in Abyei or along south-north perimeter. And I believe this is going to be a really test and determining factor for the survival and fate of the comprehensive peace agreement.

* Watts Roba Gibia Nyirigwa is a Sudan Tribune columnist, he can be reached at [email protected]