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Tensions rise again between Khartoum and Juba over Abyei administration

August 22, 2012 (KHARTOUM) — Days before the resumption of talks over outstanding issues, Khartoum has accused Juba of unilaterally appointing a new administration in Abyei, and has also decided to send a steering committee into the disputed area.

An unidentified woman stands in the central market of Abyei, Sudan, Thursday Jan. 13, 2011 (Reuters)

Discussions between Sudanese and South Sudanese teams in the African Union mediated process failed to form a new administration in line with the Temporary Arrangements for the Administration and Security of the Abyei Area (TAASAA) signed on 20 June 2011.

Khartoum has vetoed the establishment of the Abyei administration which should be led by someone nominated by Juba, due to Juba’s refusal to accept the designation of its nominee for the chairmanship of the area’s assembly as was agreed in the TAASAA.

Majid Yak Kur, deputy chairman of Abyei steering committee in Khartoum told Sudan’s official new agency -SUNA - that the Sudanese presidency has directed the members of this panel, appointed in the past by President Omer Al-Bashir after the seizure of the area in May 2011, to travel to the disputed territory and to resume its activities on the ground.

He further added that the members of the steering committee, headed by Ahmed Hassan Al-Imam, are preparing to go to Abyei.

The Sudanese officials reaffirmed their totally rejection of Juba’s unilateral decision, which breaches the 20 June agreement. He pointed out that it comes in anticipation of the outcome of Addis Ababa talks which are expected to resume next Sunday on 26 August.

Khartoum says that Juba appointed Reng Deng Kual as the new head of the Abyei administration.

Last June, Luka Biong, Abyei Joint Oversight Committee’s (AJOC) co-chair representing South Sudan, said the two sides agreed to accept the nominations of each side for the position of chief administrator and deputy chief administrator and five heads of departments.

Juba refuses to concede the position of speaker of Abyei’s regional assembly saying Sudanese President Omer Al-Bashir refuses to honour a pledge he made to the late Ethiopian prime minister to appoint to this position a Dinka Ngok member of the National Congress Party. Sudan denies such claims.

The mediation will hold a presidential summit at the end of September where presidents Omer Al-Bashir and Salva Kiir are called to discuss mainly the thorny issue of Abyei and the organisation of a referendum there.

The two parties have so far failed to agree on who can take part in this vote which will decide on the future of the region: to remain part of the north or join the newly independent state in South Sudan.

(ST)