12 October 2012

South Sudan Official - We Will 'Never Accept' Partitioning of Abyei

Photo: UN Photo/Tim McKulka
Fleeing large-scale fighting in Abyei (file photo).

Juba — A senior South Sudan official has reiterated his party's objection to Khartoum's proposed inclusion of the Misseriya ethnic in a vote on the future of Abyei, or the regions division.

Minister of water resources and irrigation, Paul Mayom Akec, made the remarks at a consultative community meeting on Wednesday. He said the position of the ruling Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) is the immediate implementation of the proposals of African Union High Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) under the chairmanship of former South Africa president Thabo Mbeki.

The Abyei issue was not settled in recent talks held between Juba and Khartoum in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa in September.

The AUHIP proposal backs an Abyei referendum and rejects the inclusion of Misseriya in its vote. Khartoum rejected the proposition and reiterated its support to a previous proposal the mediation made in 2010 suggesting to divide the area between the two parties.

"Sudan is now seeking partitioning of Abyei but we have rejected their demand because it lacks basis. It does not not conform with the Abyei protocol or the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration [PCA]," said Akec.

The PCA ruling on Abyei redefined its boundaries but did not stipulate the region's fate.

The inclusion of the Misseriya ethnic group in a vote on Abyei's future is contentious as they are nomadic, spending only part of the year in the region and they are traditionally aligned with Khartoum.

"The issue of Abyei is done. We told the people of Abyei that the case is finished. The proposal of the African Union High Level Implementation Panel on Abyei was accepted by the government of South Sudan. President Salva Kiir accepted it but Sudan repudiated and proposed partitioning of the Abyei. We said no and insisted on the conduct of the referendum and will continue to call for the conduct of the referendum as proposed by mediators," said Akec.

Luka Biong Deng, Co-Chair of the Abyei Joint Oversight Committee has said the issue of Abyei has already been handed over to the African Union.

"The resolution of the Security Council of the United Nations which endorsed African Peace and Security Council is very clear. It says mediators can make recommendations on issues which the two parties have failed to agree on to the African Union Peace and Security Council," Deng told Sudan Tribune on Thursday.

Deng described alleged demonstrations by Misseriya against their potential omission from a vote on the future of Abyei as "fabrications by the government of Sudan." He described his sympathy for their plight but said those demonstrating are "not for the interest of the nomads".

He also said he expected Sudan to accept the AU's decision on Abyei as it backed Khartoum in its opposition to the International Criminal Court's (ICC) ruling against president Omar al-Bashir, as guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

"Sudan is the member of the African Union and it is the African Union which will come up with the decision not the Security Council. The Security Council will just endorse it. This is a big test to the African Union which has always been the one standing with Sudan against the ICC," said Deng.

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