South Sudan Disappointed By Mediation's New Proposal Over Abyei

Photo: Tim McKulka/UN Photo
A woman and her daughter seek shelter after fleeing from her home in Abyei (file photo).

Juba — South Sudan on Tuesday expressed strong disappointment with the proposal by the African Union High Level Implementation (AUHIP) calling to extend negotiations over the remaining unresolved issues for six weeks.

The mediation said such extension allows the two parties to reach a voluntary consensus on the final status of the contested region of Abyei.

The mediating team will present comprehensive reports with recommendations on all outstanding issues to the African Union Peace and Security Council which will meet on Wednesday 24 October, for endorsement as final and binding decisions on both sides, before to refer it to the U.N. Security Coucil.

However, officials from South Sudan's governing Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) currently in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, said they were surprised by the proposal to resume negotiation on Abyei, a month after the parties to the conflict have failed to reach a consensus.

"We received last night the report that will be presented by AUHIP to the AUPSC on 24 October. It includes a number of suggestions about the final status of Abyei. The AUHIP is asking for the extension of six weeks for parties to continue negotiating the final status of Abyei," Luka Biong Deng, a co-chair of the Abyei Joint Oversight Committee (AJOC) told Sudan Tribune on Tuesday from Addis Ababa.

"This position is not consistent with the AU Roadmap and the UN Resolution 2046," he further said.

Deng explained that the chief mediator, Thabo Mbeki, had suggested the immediate implementation of the outstanding elements of the 20 June 2011 Agreement on Temporary Arrangements as one of the first requirements for a complete implementation.

"We propose that at its meeting to consider this and other reports of the AUHIP on the outstanding matters, the AUPSC should decide and immediately communicate the message to the Governments of South Sudan and Sudan that they should, no later than two weeks after the AUPSC meeting, implement the entire of the Agreement on Temporary Agreements, especially the establishment of the Abyei Area Administration and the Abyei Area Council", an extract of the Mbeki's report reads in part.

South Sudanese government is not willing to implement this part of the temporary arrangements because Khartoum refuses to appoint a Ngok Dinka for the position of speaker to Abyei Legislative Council. Juba says Khartoum had accepted to do so before to sign the deal.

The senior government official further quoted reports as suggesting that Abyei Area Referendum Commission (AARC) should be established six weeks after the signing of the Agreement on the final status of Abyei.

"We propose that the AUPSC should decide and communicate this immediately to the Governments of Sudan and South Sudan that they should engage each other to resolve all outstanding matters relating to the determination of the Final Status of Abyei, and report the outcomes of this engagement to the AUPSC, through the AUHIP, not later than six weeks after the meeting of the AUPSC," he stressed.

The mediating team also suggested that AUPSC takes the decision to inform the governments of South Sudan and Sudan of the message to immediately reach a consensus on the outstanding issues relating to the final status of Abyei.

Deng said the mediation did not observe the terms of its mandate as defined in the UN Security Council through its resolution 2046.

"The resolution gave the panel a clear mandate. It mandates the panel to make recommendations in the event that the two parties have failed to agree."

"So why should the panel extend the negotiations after they have made a proposal? The AUHIP should just present the proposal that was presented to Salva [South Sudan president Kiir] and Bashir [Sudan president] on 21 September 2012," Deng further argued.

Khartoum, which rejected the AUHIP 21 September proposal during the 23-25 September summit, says it is in favour of a previous resolution leading to the partition of the disputed area between the two countries.

Since the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in January 2005, the two parties failed to agree on the participation of the Misseriya pastoralists who spend several months every year.

The mediation in its September's proposal suggested to allow only Misseriya who reside permanently there, a suggestion that matches with the position of the South Sudanese government.

Luka Biong, sought to mobilise regional and international support to the latest preposition of the African mediation. Two days ago he was in Pretoria where he met South African officials over the issues.

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InFocus

South Sudan Disappointed by AU Abyei Proposal

A woman and her daughter seek shelter after fleeing from her home in Abyei (file photo).

The country has expressed disappointment over the proposal made by the AU for negotiations over the contested Abyei region to be extended. Read more »