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South Sudan wants agreement over Abyei’s before replacement of Ethiopian troops

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Ethiopian peacekeepers in Abyei (UNISFA photo)September 9, 2021 (JUBA) - The National Committee for the Final Status of Abyei in South Sudan rejected the replacement of Ethiopian forces before an agreement over the future of the disputed area.

Last August, the United Nations approved Sudan’s request to withdraw Ethiopian forces from Abyei, in the wake of strained relations between the two countries over the al-Fashaga area and the GERD.

Jean Pierre Lacroix, Head of the UN Peacekeeping Department discussed with the Sudanese officials in Khartoum on 7 September the UNISFA future. He has to submit a report to the Security Council including recommendations for reconfiguration of the Force with a viable exit strategy from Abyei before 30 September.

On Thursday, Lacroix held talks on the Abyei force with officials in Juba, after similar meetings in Khartoum and Addis Ababa.

Deng Alor, Vice-Chairman of the National Committee for the Final Status of Abyei in South Sudan, after the meeting, stressed the need to reach a final agreement on the status of the Abyei area before the replacement of the Ethiopian forces from the UNISFA.

Alors further said the replacement of UNISFA troops should intervene with the approval of the two parties to the agreement to deploy forces in the Area.

He stressed they requested the United Nations to help the two countries to reach a final agreement that determines the future of the Abyei area.

UN officials say they cannot keep troops from a country in conflict with the host country for the safety of the peacekeepers.

Following a meeting between Lacroix and Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok, the Sudanese government said the two sides discussed the replacement of the Ethiopian troops from Abyei.

Lacroix "confirmed that the United Nations has begun searching for troops from several countries that meet the required specifications," said the cabinet on 7 September.

In May 2021, the UN Security Council extended the UNIFSA mandate until the 15th of October.

Under the Comprehensive Peace Agreement of 9 January 2005 that led to the independence of South Sudan six years later, Abyei remains a Sudanese territory until a referendum on the future of the border area.

Khartoum and Juba failed to organize the referendum they are at odds on who is eligible to participate in this process.

(ST)

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