4 December 2012

South Sudan Will Not Accept Endless Talks Over Abyei - FM

Photo: Stuart Price/UN
The aftermath of a past attack on Abyei (file photo).

Khartoum/Juba — South Sudan's Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said on Monday that they will not again accept "endless negotiations" with Khartoum over the final status of the disputed Abyei region.

Minister Nhial Deng Nhial said his country had done all that could be expected to ensure the dispute over the area is settled amicably. "We have done a lot not only on Abyei but on all the other remaining issues which we could not complete implementation in comprehensive peace agreement," said Nhial.

He said there was a growing consensus among major member states of the African Union (AU) that the dispute over the region must be brought to an end, as well as the statuses of other disputed areas along their shared border.

"No single African country is not supporting breaking a deadlock on a number of issues with Sudan, they are all for peaceful resolution. There is now a general consensus from major member states of the African Union. They want to put an end to this dispute. This was why the African Union Peace and Security Council passed a communiqué in April giving a clear timeline. They want an end to the conflict not an endless negotiation," explained Nhial.

The African Union High Level Implementation Panel in September presented to the two heads of state a peace proposal calling for a of referendum for the people of Abyei in October 2013. The proposal also defined who would be eligible to vote in the exercise.

This position was presented to the AU Peace and Security Council which adopted it on 24 October, but gave the two parties an additional six weeks to continue with discussions in order voluntarily reach a consensus, instead of allowing continental body to make the decision on their behalf in the event they have failed to strike a deal.

The Misseriya are a nomadic group historically aligned with Khartoum. Their inclusion in a vote on the future of Abyei, by its populous, otherwise dominated by the Juba-aligned Ngok-Dinka, is a contentious matter yet to be resolved by talks.

President Salva Kiir last week during a forum of South Sudanese governors declared that he and his Sudanese counterpart, Omer Al-Bashir, have failed to agree on reaching a consensus.

"On the 9th December, the six weeks that was given for us to consult as requested by the Sudanese Government will pass. My expectation is that the AUHIP will then present the position for adoption to the AU Peace and Security Council. If the AU Peace and Security Council adopt it, they will send the same position to the UNSC [UN Security Council] and ask them to adopt it as the final status of Abyei," Kiir told the forum.

Sudan, on the other hand, said opposed to the proposal and rejected the AUPSC's decision. Sudanese officials also engaged a diplomatic campaign to explain their position over the issue.

The two parties due to their divergences, over the security issues, failed to implement nine other agreements they signed in Addis Ababa on 27 September.

Talks over the implementation of security arrangements are set to resume Wednesday as technical committees have already resumed their meetings on Monday.

Pagan Amum South Sudanese top negotiator was in Khartoum during the week end to reiterate the willingness of his government to implement the protocols of the Cooperation Agreement saying the oil exportation might resume by the end of December.

However, a leading member of the ruling National Congress Party, Qutbi Mahdi, reiterated Monday in Khartoum that nothing will happen without the security arrangements.

Khartoum says the security deal provides that Juba has to disarm the SPLM-North rebels while the later repeats it cannot force the rebels to lay down their weapons asserting they are no longer part of its army.

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