Home | News    Friday 20 August 2010

Abyei seeks international intervention over referendum


August 18, 2010 (JUBA) — A pressure group "Abyei Referendum Forum" from the oil rich region of Abyei on Wednesday called for international intervention to break deadlock over formation of the disputed referendum commission.

About 1000 residents of Abyei march to celebrate the decision of the Permanent Court of Arbitration that ruled on the boundaries of the Abyei Area (photo Tim McKULKA- UNMIS)Talks over the formation of the commission to supervise the conduct of the upcoming referendum in the oil producing region of Abyei are stalled.

The ruling National Congress Party is accused of seeking to include members of the Messeriya tribe in the commission while Sudan People’s Liberation Movement who has governed the south since a 2005 peace deal maintained position to limit composition of the membership to natives of Abyei.

The Comprehensive Peace Agreement set out how the two parties would share power and (oil) wealth as well as agreeing to hold simultaneous referenda on self determination for south Sudan and Abyei.

The agreement ended, 22 years of civil war between north and south.

The people of Abyei get to vote on whether they want to join the north or the south in a referendum expected to take place the same time with the southern Sudan referendum.

The region was transferred to Kordofan state in central Sudan in 1905 by the British. Previously Abyei was part of the southern state of Bahr el Ghazal.

Chol Deng Alaak, a senior member of the SPLM who comes from the area, told Sudan Tribune, talks between NCP and SPLM over formation of Abyei referendum have not reached any understanding.

"Talks remain as they started. No compromise even over suggestion by the SPLM to allow UN run Abyei referendum has been opposed. No discussions anymore and so there are any progress.”

“They are dead", Alaal said.

He said not aware of any internal arrangement which the two partners can reach without involving an independent third party to help them negotiate.

"When two people are engaged in something and do not understand themselves any longer, they invite an independent person to assist. This was how the current peace agreement was reached. It was reached through mediation and assistances from independent bodies", explained Alaak.

He said that the NCP and SPLM did not sit alone when they wrote the CPA.

"They used third party to intervene in resolving their differences in form of agreement. If they are facing difficulties in implementation process, they should resume the same ways and mechanisms used to bring this agreement," said Alaak.

The official, who previously served as a state minister in the ministry of foreign affairs, recommended that a third party intervene to help solve the issue surrounding Abyei’s referendum.

"If they cannot resume and insist to resolve their differences alone, I tell you it will take time and [the] Abyei issue cannot be solved by two of them without involving any third party," he said.

“If the two parties are really committed to full implementation of the Abyei protocol as per ruling of the permanent court of arbitration, they need to consider international intervention," he adds.

Alaak, added that Abyei was given a choice to decide where to go in the 1972 Addis Ababa peace agreement at a referendum but it was not conducted.

"The same choice was again discussed and agreed upon in the comprehensive peace agreement by the two partners and is experiencing similar challenges it encountered in the past," he said.

Pagan Amum, Secretary General of the SPLM, was last week, announced that talks over the Abyei referendum have reached a deadlock.

“Discussions over Abyei between SPLM and NCP have reached deadlock,” said Amum upon arrival from Khartoum at Juba international airport.

He accused the National Congress Party of arming and building a strong military presence with intention to implement programs wanting to re-settle people outside Abyei area - referring to members of Messeriya who over the years fought with Dinka Ngok over territorial ownership of Abyei region.

The official, who described the situation in the area as grave, was leading SPLM high executive delegation committee returning from Khartoum after attending discussions on post referendum arrangements with members from ruling national congress party. His delegation included minister of water resources and irrigation, Paul Mayom, minister of presidential affairs among others.

While results of the discussions were not made public, Amum described it as good start.


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  • 20 August 2010 04:42, by DOOR

    Abyei which is our oil wealth state should be given stern attention by the international community.
    This is where the war between the North and South would begin should all the avenues fail.
    If the north is massing up troops in this area why not the South mass up its troop as well.
    We must not be intimidated at this hour of alertness.
    Go on SPLM with diplomatics mean but remember to carry a cane behind you.

    • 20 August 2010 06:47, by Angelo Ajiech Manyuat

      Wake up SPLM and face your foe with all your energy regardless of divisions this time. We citizens of Southern Sudan are behind you. I mean, no matter how long it takes and how hard it will be Southern Sudan must get her independence by the year 2011. We’re fed up living with northerners while they don’t treat us equally or regard us as really Sudanese. This is a time to say goodbye to their pathetic unity.

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