15 December 2012

Sudan: Warrap State Sets Conditions for Sudanese Nomads' Access to Its Pastures

Juba — Authorities in South Sudan's Warrap state have set demands it considers prerequisites for nomadic communities from neighboring Sudan to seek water and pastures in their area.

The new demands, according to the state secretary general, emerged after a meeting of chiefs from border areas, which was held in state capital, Kwajok.

"The chiefs from Twic communities and Abyei have rejected the arrival of Misseriya to graze in the area, because they believe Misseriya will never leave behind their guns as it happened in the past," said James Gabriel Khamis, in a statement released Saturday.

The meeting, in its resolutions, mainly focused on security issues, with a consensus that Sudanese nomads were largely responsible for instability in the border areas, hence the need to regulate their movements.

Officials during the meeting also cited insufficient water resources and pastures for pastoralist communities in the area, which they say might require the two countries to agree upon shared regulations.

"Border communities used to agree to share resources when the country was still one. There was one constitution, one security system and one government but now there are two separate countries with different constitutions and rules," said Khamis.

This means that nomadic communities from Sudan must accept the rules and respect the policies of South Sudan because it has sovereignty and territorial rights over resources within the country, he added.

The Warrap state secretary general, however, insists that the two governments, rather than community leaders should reach any agreement on access to water and pastures.

Also raised at the meeting, Khamis said, were failures to observe resolutions made in the previous meetings and conferences, which bring together chiefs from nomadic communities from the two countries.

Meanwhile, the meeting also concluded that a referendum on the future of the contested border region of Abyei must be one of the conditions to allow access to the nomads from Sudan.

"The Ngok Dinka must vote first in the referendum as stipulated in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) before we have communities' peace agreement and sharing of natural resources," said Khamis.

Abyei's traditional leaders said they have already communicated their position regarding the movement of Misseriya nomads with weapons in the area to the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) but "no immediate action was taken by the mission."

Sudan Tribune was unable to reach UNISFA for a comment after it emerged they too participated in the meeting.

AUPSC PROPOSAL

The African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC), on Friday, decided to stick to its acceptance to a proposal aiming to hold a referendum next year in Abyei, but did not refer it to the Un Security Council.

In a communiqué released on 15 December, the AUPSC referred "the determination on the issue of the Final Status of Abyei to its meeting at the level of the Heads of State and Government, to be held on the margins of the 21st Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Union, in Addis Ababa, in January 2013."

However, the continent's security body in its 349 meeting maintained its initial acceptance of the proposal made by the mediation calling to organise a referendum in October 2013 where only Ngok Dinka and a minority of Misseriya residing the disputed area can decide to remain part of Sudan or join the South Sudan.

The meeting said the Proposal is "a fair, equitable and workable solution to the dispute between the two countries, which takes into account existing Agreements entered into by the Parties, as well as the needs and interests of the communities on the ground."

Khartoum said it remains opposed to the mediation proposal and warned that it would not cede Abyei, which is part of the Sudanese territory, even if the Security Council endorses the proposal in a resolution under Chapter VII of the UN Charter.

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