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Sudan Tribune

Plural news and views on Sudan

Sudan rules out Abyei swap deal with south

October 30, 2011 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese ruling party brushed aside an offer made yesterday by the Republic of South Sudan (RoSS) to fully resolve the issue of the disputed border region of Abyei, saying that it belongs to the north.

FILE - A aerial view of looted items scattered on the ground in front of a deserted homestead on the outskirts of Abyei town (Reuters)
FILE – A aerial view of looted items scattered on the ground in front of a deserted homestead on the outskirts of Abyei town (Reuters)
Pagan Amum, secretary general of the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) in RoSS, told Reuters in an interview that they are prepared to offer oil at a discounted price, an unspecified amount of cash, and forgiveness of all arrears from oil sharing claimed by the South from the time before it gained independence last July.

“This is a package that in return the government of Sudan will ensure the territorial integrity of South Sudan by agreeing to transfer Abyei to the South and also ceasing any claims on areas on the border of Southern Sudan that they are claiming,” Amum said.

The financial aspect of the deal appears made to lure the north which is struggling economically ever since the oil-rich south seceded.

But the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) in Sudan quickly rejected the idea.

The NCP spokesperson Ibrahim Ghandour, while addressing a rally at Sennar state in central Sudan said that Abyei belongs to the north and that it is not up for sale or compromise. He added that there is no room for retreat from the fact that it is part of Sudan.

“We will not compromise on Abyei and we will not allow the existence of two armies in the country,” Ghandour said.

The borders of Abyei were redrawn by the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in 2009 after the NCP & SPLM agreed to refer the matter to it in a bid to resolve the long standing dispute.

However, the technical commission mandated with demarcating the borders on the ground failed to start the process because of threats leveled by the Arab Misseriya tribe who objected to the PCA ruling.

The 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) signed between the NCP and SPLM stipulates that two simultaneous self-determination referendums should be held in South Sudan and Abyei so that its residents can decide their fate.

The SPLM has interpreted the ruling as meaning that the cattle-herding Misseriya tribe have no right to vote in areas assigned by the PCA to the Dinka Ngok. However, the Misseriya vow not to allow the vote to take place even if they have to resort to force unless they are allowed to participate.

The situation in the oil-rich region escalated dramatically last May when Sudan’s armed forces (SAF) invaded the area in response to an attack allegedly carried out by southern forces, two months before South Sudan gained independence from Khartoum.

Following mediation by the African Union (AU), both sides agreed to withdraw their forces and have them replaced by an Ethiopian peacekeeping force that was later named United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA).

But signs of renewed tensions emerged again after Khartoum said that it will not pull its forces unless the AU-brokered Abyei accord is fully implemented.