28 June 2012

East Africa: Delay to Resolve Abyei Conflict Worries Uganda

Photo: UN Photo/Stuart Price
Abyei town, one of the disputed regions (file photo).

Uganda is worried about the slow progress in the ongoing negotiations to resolve the outstanding issues between Sudan and South Sudan.

The state minister for foreign affairs, Henry Okello Oryem has said that negotiations between the two countries currently taking place in Ethiopia are "extremely slow"

The two countries nearly returned to a full scale war over the control of the oil rich Abyei area in the recent months when the armies of Sudan and South Sudan clashed after troops of the latter occupied the disputed oil-producing region of Heglig in April.

Oryem said the delay to solve the outstanding issues between the Sudan and South Sudan such as border demarcation, foreign debts liability and reaching a mutual agreement on the location of Abyei in the two countries were still raising tension among residents.

The minister said the negotiations being conducted under the auspices of the Inter-governmental Authority for Development (IGAD) should resolve these contentious issues left out by the Comprehensive Peace Agreement as soon as possible to facilitate peace between the two countries neighboring Uganda.

In an interview with New Vision, Oryem said Uganda was ready to offer any support in the ongoing talks to have the conflict resolved amicably once and for all.

The minister also said Uganda was worried because spoilers could take advantage of the delay to provoke the countries to return to an all-out war to destabilize the region.

South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in July following a 2005 peace agreement that ended a two-decade civil war between the two countries. Both sides still accuse each other of arming rebels fighting to topple their governments.

"There is still a high level of suspicion and tension between residents of the two countries and failure to resolve the conflict could destabilize the country again," Oryem said.

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