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U.S. calls to set up Abyei joint administration

Dinka Ngok and Misseryia leaders sign a deal to promote peaceful coexistence on 1 March 2018 photo UNISFA.jpg
April 26, 2021 (KHARTOUM) - The United States called on Sudan and South Sudan to implement the 2011 agreement and to form a joint administration in Abyei until an agreement on its final status is reached.

The United Nations Security Council was briefed on Monday about the situation in Abyei and the consultations on the exit of the UN Interim Force in Abyei (UNISFA) which has been deployed in the border region since 2011.

As provided in the 20 June 2011 Agreement on the security and administrative arrangements in Abyei, the UNISFA mandate, among others consists in strengthening the capacity of the Abyei Police Service (APS) and monitoring and verifying the redeployment of Sudanese and South Sudanese forces out of the area.

The virtual meeting of the Council was briefed by Jean Pierre Lacroix head of UN peacekeeping operations and Parfait Onanga-Anyanga UN special envoy for the Horn of Africa. They spoke respectively about the UNISFA activities during the past 6 months and consultations on its exit.

In his comments after the videoconference briefing on Monday, Richard Mills U.S. Deputy Representative to the UN hailed the cooperation between Khartoum and Juba to achieve peace and stability in their two countries.

Mills called on both sides to "prioritize safety and security of civilians living in Abyei, ensure stability in the region, and to determine the final status of Abyei".

To achieve these goals he said the two countries should accelerate the implementation of the 2011 Agreement, "Particularly the finalization of the establishment of the Abyei Area Administration, the Abyei Area Council, and the Abyei Police Service," to facilitate the provision of essential services to the Abyei population.

"We also encourage all parties to find a mutually acceptable resolution of Abyei’s final status and the development of security arrangements to allow for a responsible exit of UNISFA".

"Until the two countries mutually agree on another arrangement, or Abyei’s final status is resolved, Sudan and South Sudan should abide by the 2011 Agreement on Abyei that led to the creation of UNISFA," he stressed.

In accordance with the 2005 peace agreement that led to South Sudan’s independence in July 2011, the residents of the border area have to choose via a referendum to remain in Sudan or to join South Sudan. However, the two sides failed to agree on who can participate in this vote.

The South Sudanese government rejects the formation of a joint administration and the set-up of the Abyei police force saying the most important now is to hold a referendum on the status of the area without the participation of Misseriya cattle herders.

Juba says there is no trust between the Dinka Ngok and Misseriya groups to form a joint administration as it was agreed ahead of the South Sudan independence. Instead, the best is to form two separate administrations one in Abyei and the other in Western Kordofan.

Sudan proposes to go ahead with the establishment of the Abyei administration and to form its police force. Also, Sudanese officials speak about continued efforts to reduce violence and promote coexistence between the two groups.

Khartoum also proposed to discuss a ’mutually beneficial solution in which Abyei would become a "soft border" and an example of peaceful coexistence, development and shared prosperity for the local communities’.

The U.S. diplomat urged the South Sudanese government to name its 35 members of the Joint Police Service stressing that "The Joint Police Service would provide protection for areas of joint activity and interest".

Also, he called on the Sudanese government to issue visas for UN personnel mandated by the Security Council, and for a civilian deputy head of mission.

Sudan had rejected the appointment of the UNISFA civilian deputy head saying that it was not consulted on this decision to create this post. The decision was taken after the collapse of the former regime while the country was in total chaos.

(ST)