Home | News    Saturday 17 May 2008

Sudan Abyei becoming a “ghost city” after deadly clashes: tribal leader

May 16, 2008 (KHARTOUM) — The oil rich region of Abyei on the borders of North and South Sudan, is becoming a “ghost town” following fierce clashes, a tribal leader said today.

“Ninety percent of the city was destroyed and since most city buildings are made of straw fire quickly swept though them” said Mohamed Omar Al-Ansari who is a leader of a group called Abyei Liberation Front”.

Thousands of civilians fled clashes between Sudan’s former north-south civil war foes in the Abyei last Thursday sparked by local dispute, Reuters reported.

The spokesperson of the Sudanese army (SAF) Mohamed Osman Al-Agbash said that 4 soldiers were killed. Al-Agbash blamed the Sudan People Liberation Army (SPLA) for provoking the fighting saying that its units attacked one of the SAF checkpoints.

The Abyei region has been described as Sudan’s Kashmir by the ENOUGH project against genocide, saying that it may develop into a “national war with regional implications and historically devastating repercussions”.

Al-Ansari told the daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat that the SPLM of caused the clashes saying that the appointment of Edward Lino “complicated matters”.

Last January the semi-autonomous southern Sudan government has appointed Edward Lino to administrate the disputed oil rich area of Abyei, only to revoke last month after tensions ran high from the Arab Misseriya tribe in the area.

The SPLM and the National Congress Party (NCP) have yet to resolve the issue of the oil rich region with both sides claiming ownership of the area.

Kiir told the semi-governmental Al-Ahram daily last February that the NCP is the party blocking the implementation of the Abyei protocol which is part of the Naivasha agreement that ended two decades of the civil war between the North and the South.

Under the protocol a commission known as the Abyei Boundaries Commission (ABC) was to “define and demarcate the area of the nine Ngok Dinka Chiefdoms transferred to Kordofan in 1905, referred to herein as Abyei Area”.

However the president Omar Hassan Al-Bashir said that the NCP is committed to the Abyei Protocol only with the border of 1905. He further said the government is not concerned with the ABC report and that the latter is of no value to them.

The SPLM signed a peace deal in January 2005 with the government of the National Congress Party in January 2005 ending two decades of civil war in Southern Sudan. The peace deal made the SPLM, the ruling party in the south and the NCP the ruling party in the north.

In 2011, southerners will be asked to vote in a referendum on whether they want to be independent or remain part of Sudan.