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Sudan Tribune

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Sudan’s NCP warns against unilateral referendum in Abyei

November 4, 2010 (KHARTOUM) — The northern Sudan ruling National Congress Party (NCP) has warned its peace partner and southern Sudan ruling party SPLM against organizing unilaterally a popular vote on the future of Abyei which lies on the North-South border.

Didiri Mohamed Ahmed (Reuters)
Didiri Mohamed Ahmed (Reuters)

The Abyei Referendum Commission has not yet been formed due to differences between the NCP and SPLM over who will participate in the referendum. The NCP says all the population of the oil producing area, including the Misseriya tribe who enter the region for a few months a year are eligible, while the SPLM says only the Dinka Ngok can vote.

In October, the signatories of the 2005 peace agreement failed to agree on the voter eligibility during a series of talks brokered by the US envoy to Sudan Scott Gration held in Addis Ababa.

A senior NCP member, Dirdiri Mohamed Ahmed, who is in charge of Abyei file on Thursday accused the SPLM of preparing to annex Abyei to southern Sudan before or at the same time as the south’s referendum on full independence.

Dirdiri who was addressing a meeting of the NCP members from the Dinka Ngok youth organized at the headquarters of the ruling party in Khartoum, warned that if the SPLM undertakes such measures it would be a “flagrant violation of the Abyei Protocol and the Comprehensive Peace Agreement” (CPA).

He further stressed that the Interim Constitution provides that none of the two parties can amend the 1956 border before the referendum is conducted.

“If the parties do not agree on an alternative for the referendum there is no way to amend the border unilaterally,” he said.

The NCP delegation to Addis Ababa meetings said in a press conference held in Khartoum in October that it was not possible to hold Abyei referendum as scheduled on January 9. It called further to discuss other alternatives including the delay of the referenda.

The official responsible for the Abyei dossier said the NCP informed the former South African President Thabo Mbeki who is leading the ongoing efforts to broker a solution for the row over Abyei Referendum about this “dangerous development”.

Mbeki who chairs the African Union High Level Panel on Sudan on Monday announced the adjournment of talks between the two partners of the 2005 peace agreement scheduled to take place in Addis Ababa on 27 October without indicating when they would meet.

Nonetheless, he stressed that this postponement will not affect the ongoing preparations to hold the referendum on 9 January as scheduled. He added the parties need more time to agree on the agenda of the talks.

In accordance with the CPA, the population of Abyei is invited to decide whether they want to be part of the north or a possible new country in the south. This vote will take place simultaneously with another one on self-determination in Southern Sudan.