Home | News    Thursday 28 October 2010

SPLM deny calling for Abyei to be annexed without referendum


October 27, 2010 (JUBA) – South Sudan’s ruling party has issued conflicting statements on whether it wants the region of Abyei to be annexed to the south through a political settlement and Presidential decree if a referendum on the region’s future does not go ahead in January as scheduled.

Conflicting SPLM reports about calls by SPLM figures for the NCP to admit that Abyei belong to South Sudan without referendum. A displaced woman waits food distribution in May 2008 (Reuters)

The Secretary General of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), Pagan Amum, said Tuesday that the issue was being held “hostage” by Sudan’s ruling party but that they were willing to pay a “ransom” for the region to be returned to south Sudan.

This appeared to be the party’s new position after a senior minister in the coalition government told Reuters on Wednesday that the US proposal had been “agreed” by the SPLM in an attempt to stop the dispute over the region triggering a return to war.

However on Wednesday evening the SPLM Secretary for Information and Communications in the Southern Sector, Bol Makueng went on southern television to say that Amum had been misquoted.

He said Pagan Amum did not say anything about settling Abyei’s future through a deal or that it would be handled by Sudan’s tripartite Presidency, which includes the President of Southern Sudan, Salva Kiir Mayardit, as 1st Vice President.

“Pagan did not say Abyei will be handled by Presidency. He was misquoted. He said the referendum date for Abyei is the same as the referendum date for Southern Sudan referendum,” said Makueng.

Most analysts believe the autonomous region of South Sudan will vote to become fully independent in a seprate referendum in January.

On Tuesday, Agence France Presse reported Amum as saying that instead of holding a Abyei referendum on the region, the presidency should "take a decision and transfer Abyei by presidential decree to the south, because the process of Abyei referendum has been delayed and there is no time".

"That is what I see as the future of Abyei," AFP reported him as saying.

In the media briefing held in South Sudan’s capital Juba, Amum accused the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) in north Sudan of holding talks on the contested area “hostage.”

Amum suggested that the stalled referendum vote on the future of Abyei - an oil-producing region like the south - could be scrapped in favor of a political settlement that gives the area to the south, saying the South is willing to pay a “ransom” to the ruling party in north Sudan to secure such settlement.

Discussions between the parties to the 2005 peace deal that agreed to the Abyei referendum and the south’s self determination vote have been postponed indefinitely despite being scheduled to reconvene on yesterday in Addis Ababa.

The SPLM official said his party would remain actively engaged in negotiations aimed at salvaging the floundering talks over the contested area even if this means “paying ransom for Abyei which has been held hostage by the NCP.”

“When this is done, the borders and map of South Sudan would change to reflect the new development,” Amum said.

On Wednesday a Reuters interview with Luka Biong, a senior SPLM member of Sudan’s coalition government in Khartoum, appeared to corroborate and elaborate on Amum’s statement.

Biong who is the Government of National Unity’s cabinet affairs minister told Reuters:

the south had accepted a U.S. suggestion that it annex Abyei by presidential decree if the referendum did not go ahead.

To compensate the north for agreeing to a peaceful settlement along these lines, the south would agree to arrange a financial package.

He said this could be in the form of an interest-free loan to the north to cover up to half the loss in oil revenues if the south secedes.

Talks have been deadlocked over the eligibility criteria for voters in the Abyei referendum, a right contested between the indigenous southern tribe of Dinka Ngok and the Arab nomadic tribe of Misseriya, which is associated with the north.

The NCP wants the cattle-herding Misseriya, who enter Abyei for a few months each year, to be able to vote while the SPLM insists that the right to vote should be confined to the Dinka Ngok.

Amum said on Tuesday that the “Misseriya have no right to participate in the Abyei referendum. They do not have any single right whatsoever”.

But in Biong’s interview he said that under the US proposal in the event that the referendum does not go ahead the SPLM would grant the Missiriya citizenship rights so they could continue to use the region to find pasture for their cattle.

The south would also use some of Abyei’s oil revenues to set up a development fund for the Missiriya, Biong said.

Washington had put forward the proposal of a political settlement, the minister said, in an attempt to avoid the region triggering renewed conflict between the two sides.

"They put this proposal ... having a presidential decree to return Abyei back to the south and the Missiriya to have dual citizenship — we accepted it," Biong said.

Abyei was transfered to the north in 1905 under Anglo-Egyptian rule.

Biong’s statements to Reuters were made before the SPLM’s television denial that any deal was being considered.

South Sudan is widely expected to vote for independence in the referendum due to begin 9 January 2011.

Failure to establish the commission to run the Abyei referendum, demarcate the borders or agree whether the Misseriya tribe can vote has raised fears that the Abyei dispute may drag north and south back into civil war.

The second north-south civil war from 1983-2005 caused the deaths of around 2 million people and forced 4 million to flee their homes according to the UN.


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  • 28 October 2010 07:19, by Gatwech

    Dear readers,

    Read again the quote below from Luka Biong Deng:

    "But in Biong’s interview he said that under the US proposal in the event that the referendum does not go ahead the SPLM would grant the Missiriya citizenship rights so they could continue to use the region to find pasture for their cattle.

    The south would also use some of Abyei’s oil revenues to set up a development fund for the Missiriya, Biong said.

    Washington had put forward the proposal of a political settlement, the minister said, in an attempt to avoid the region triggering renewed conflict between the two sides.

    "They put this proposal ... having a presidential decree to return Abyei back to the south and the Missiriya to have dual citizenship — we accepted it," Biong said.

    Well, personally I don’t think that kind of proposal from American government is the solution in the long run. But it can put the conflict to a hold for a short period of time. And in the long run the Messiriya will resume the fight since they would now have gained the full citizenship of Abyei and would want to dictate the terms.

    Any way, it is always America that came with solutions for Abyei. The Abyei protocol in Naivasha was based on the American proposal. Now we are at it again. Well, they can lull the situation for a while...

    • 28 October 2010 12:44, by Ahmed Chol

      SPLM should play the same game the north does all the time, agree anything and don’t implement it. Agree to what the north want don’t implement in the future. If they want all the money in hell, accept it and don’t give them even a single cent later. The north will soon realize that they will not be able to play with southerners from generation to generation.

  • 28 October 2010 07:55, by Young Nation

    As a firm supporter of SPLM, I think the SPLM should based its decision on two fronts. Firstly, the SPLM should make a pledge to international community and NCP in particular to abide by the idea of paying ransom as a compensation to Messeria. Secondly, If both Messiria and their leadership, NCP decline this philanthropic offer, then both Baggara and NCP should go to hell and let the citizens of Abien Deng Kuol hold their already granded right of self-determination on the future of the region.

    Young Nation is a BA student at The University Of Queensland, Australia

    • 28 October 2010 14:22, by John M. Atem

      Young Nation,
      You should know that Abyei is a SPLM’s political hot potato.
      In fact, we are wasting too much of our precious time talking about this time-consuming and never-ending issue. No amount of financial offer will make the National Congress Party happy to give up on Abyei.
      Many people do not even know that Abyei is holding other important discussions pertaining to Southern Sudan’s Referendum hostage. We need to tell President Kiir to stop talking about it for a while and let the Referendum on South Sudan go a head.
      Abyei is already a North-South another Khamisher. There is an old saying in English which goes"If you find yourself in a hole, stop dig it" Therefore, in this regard, people of Southern Sudan have many problems at hand which they should solve first and later on worry about Abyei issue.
      We should not let Abyei being used by the National Congress Party as a pretext to return the whole country back to war.
      Young Nation, I have lost many people during the past war and I don’t want to lose many people. Please stop talking of financial offer to the North.

      NB: let not use education as a tool of exploiting our people, but rather as a mean of improving their wretch way of life.
      I can see you are smart guy, but you need to distinguish right from wrong.
      I think that is an important ingredience that you lack.

  • 28 October 2010 09:52, by Adam

    Dear Southerners,

    I earlier wrote that the Abyei crisis cannot be solved by any party other than the concerned chiefs. All the ideas presented by the US or whoever are not accepted by both Dinka Ngok or Messeriya. SPLA/M and NCP complicated the crisis further by their irrational political and greedy interferences. They cannot solve this case. The International Court ruling has done nothing but complicating the crisis further.

    What Mr. Amoum has been saying was just what the Americans suggested. He and the SPLA/M have nothing logical or reasonable to present.

    (Abyei was transferred to the north in 1905 under Anglo-Egyptian rule), but why? Where were they (their land)? What was the reason for the condominium rule to annex the 9 Dinka Ngok chiefdoms to South Kurdofan? History and peaceful co-existence have all to do with this issue. What was spelled out by Mr. Amoum and Mr. whatever is irrelevant. If international intervention is not stopped we must expected more complications.

    The West is just looking for its strategic and economic interests. We should not have any illusions that “they” are keen to solve the problems or uplift the backward situations of Southerners. They are now putting their nose in every affairs of ours, because it is the time to repay what SPLA has taken from them during the 2 decade war. That is why they will make sure that every dollar received by SPLA will generate 100 for them and for longtime. Believe me, we as Southerners will face the same fate of some African regimes like Congo, Gabon, Kenya, Guinea, Niger, Mali and many others, where the Western Companies are in control of everything – including politics. The regular poor will be poorest. The sick must go. The uneducated must kill each other and so on.

    We as Southerners, are not united at all (carefully read the news and how SPLA/M is behaving).It seems that we cannot achieve unity in the lifetime of the present ferocious stray children of the South. Our tribes and way of life are the victims, our ancestral land and resources are the price, our blood and bodies are the fertilizers.

    Let the Southerners united first, then develop our human and natural resources. Latter we can claim our independence. In the current situations, and the news streaming from the South and North, and from the West – the picture is darker than our skins. The few coming days and weeks will reveal the unexpected, especially from the West and on the tribal lines.

    SPLA and NCP destroyed the dreams and visions of a prosperous South or Sudan or whatever.

    Let North and South be careful enough. They should fix both eyes on the poor and needy – not on personal, political or tribal interests.

    Adam Milawaki, Kansas City

  • 28 October 2010 11:22, by Akuma

    Hello Guys!

    Abyei would never be solved by international communities or other parts of Sudan. it is Abyei people of Ngok Dinka and Masiriya people to solve the issues. Anyway, I personally talk with Prof. Francis Mading Deng in New York Last eek about the future of Abyei. Because Southern Sudan referendum will affect Abyei mostly Dinka Ngok because the belong to Southern sudan.

    Abyei should decided what is good for them and Southern Sudanese should not attempted to take Abyei problem as their personal problem. It is Abyei’s people personal otherwise independent of Southern Sudan will pave the way for Abyei.

    Dr. Akuma

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