22 August 2012

Sudan: Tensions Rise Again Between Khartoum and Juba Over Abyei Administration

Photo: UN Photo/Tim McKulka
Fleeing large-scale fighting (file photo): Abyei was due for a referendum in 2011 to decide whether the area would remain in Sudan or become part of South Sudan.

Khartoum — Days before the resumption of talks on the outstanding issues, Khartoum has accused Juba of unilaterally appointing a new administration in Abyei, and decided to send a steering committee too in the disputed area.

Discussions between Sudan and South Sudan 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 vetoes the establishment of Abyei administration which should be led by someone nominated by Juba, due to Juba refusal to accept the designation of its nominee for the chairmanship of the area's assembly as it was agreed in the TAASAA.

Majid Yak Kur, deputy chairman of Abyei steering committee in Khartoum told the official SUNA that the Sudanese presidency has directed the members of this panel, appointed in 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 member of the steering committee, headed by Ahmed Hassan Al-Imam, are preparing to go to Abyei.

The Sudanese official reaffirmed they totally reject Juba's unilateral decision which breaches 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 new head of Abyei administration.

Last June, Luka Biong, Abyei Joint Oversight Committee (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 concedes the position of speaker of Abyei 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 issue of Abyei and the organisation of a referendum there.

The two parties 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.

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