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Oral hearing of Abyei Arbitration to begin on April 18

April 16, 2009 (LONDON) — Sudanese government and the Sudan People‚Äôs Liberation Movement will present their oral hearing on Saturday April 18 before the Abyei Arbitration at the The Hague based Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA).

Members of the Tribunal, photographed on November 24, 2008. Standing from left to right: Professor Gerhard Hafner, Professor Pierre-Marie Dupuy (Presiding Arbitrator), Judge Stephen Schwebel. Seated from left to right: H.E. Judge Awn Al-Khasawneh, Professor W. Michael Reisman (Photo PCA)

The pleading will last from 18 to 23 April. The two parties, their counsel, experts, observers and witnesses will take part at the hearings. Within 90 days of the close of the oral hearings, the arbitration will issue their final and binding decision.

The five judges have to determine whether or not the Abyei Boundary Commission (ABC) experts exceeded their mandate "to define and demarcate the area of the Nine Ngok Dinka Chiefdoms transferred from Bahr el Ghazal to Kordofan in 1905."

The tribunal shall apply and resolve the dispute before it in accordance with the provisions of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), particularly Abyei Protocol and Abyei Appendix.

Abyei Protocol provided to establish an Abyei Boundaries Commission tasked with defining the boundaries of the Abyei Area. But the National Congress Party rejected the findings of the commission which had been issued in July 2005.

The two signatories of the CPA agreed on June 8, 2008, in a roadmap to resolve Abyei disagreement, to refer their dispute to an arbitration tribunal. They formally referred their case to the PCA on July 12, 2008.

Southern Sudan government accused the federal government of delaying the delivery of the necessary funds to cover the expenses requested by SPLM for the arbitration. GOSS Presidency Affairs Minister, Luka Biong said the delay adversely affected the preparation of SPLM defense.

Biong said they had not been able to obtain important information they supposed to have since last February. Also he said that they averted some lawyers due to lack of money. However, he admitted that Khartoum transferred one day before the departure of their committee the necessary 880,000 USD. He added they had requested one million dollars.

According to Article 11 of the arbitration agreement signed in Khartoum on July 8, 2008 by Vice President Ali Osman Taha and SPLM Deputy Chairman Riek Machar Teny, the Presidency of the Republic of Sudan is required to order payment of the cost of arbitration from the federal budget.