22 October 2013

Sudan: Kiir-Bashir Summit Ends Without Solution On Abyei Deadlock

Photo: Hannah McNeish/IRIN
Mud and straw tukuls have been reduced to rubble in Abyei (file photo).

Juba — The highly anticipated summit between South Sudan's president Salva Kiir and his Sudanese counterpart, Omer Hassan Al-Bashir ended with no viable solution on the fate of the disputed oil-producing Abyei region.

The two leaders, officials told Sudan Tribune, mainly explored ways of strengthening relations between them, barely a month after they signed an agreement for establishment of official entry crossing points on both sides of their borders.

Tuesday's meeting, which took place in the South Sudan capital, Juba also looked into issues of trade and mutual cooperation between the two nations.

Prior the meeting, however, the African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) had hoped the two leaders would use the summit as an opportunity to take concrete steps aimed at resolving the final status of the disputed oil-producing region.

A joint communiqué obtained by Sudan Tribune said the Kiir and his Sudan counterpart only agreed on general terms for administration and policing of Abyei, to be handled by both parties.

The two leaders, it further added, also agreed "to expedite the establishment of Abyei Administration, Council and Police organs, and reaffirm that the 2% share of Abyei Area's oil revenue, including arrears, will be paid to the Abyei Administration."

Resolving the final status of Abyei still remains a major issue between the Sudan and South Sudan after the latter broke away from the former in July 2011, leaving several unresolved post-secession issues.

Last year, the AU mediation team proposed holding a referendum in Abyei this month, but stated that only those residing permanently in the area will be allowed to vote in the plebiscite and decide whether they want to join Sudan or South Sudan.

The Sudanese government, however, rejected the AU proposal aimed at breaking the deadlock over Abyei referendum saying it ignored that the eligibility of the Misseriya.

The Ngok Dinka openly declared their intention to conduct the Abyei area community referendum this month after a general conference its community members held on Friday in Abyei town last week.

The move, which was inadvisable by African and international bodies, would put the area at high risk of communal violence between the Ngok Dinka and Misseriya who also claim ownership of the same region.

EXPERTS REACT

Abraham Awolich, a director at the Juba-based The Sudd Institute said he would not be surprised if the Ngok Dinka went ahead and organised a referendum in Abyei.

"The protocol on Abyei remains the only unresolved issue in the CPA [Comprehensive Peace Agreement]. For the reason, the people of Abyei feel betrayed and it would not be surprised if they took such a unilateral decision," Awolich told Sudan Tribune.

The populations feel there is nothing left to be negotiated, other than find a solution aimed at resolving the final status of the contested region, he added.

Edmund Yakani, a South Sudanese activist said the two heads of states should have agreed on the way forward for Abyei referendum and how to resolve other outstanding post independence issues.

"The international community and the partners of the CPA should show commitment to full implementation of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA)", he said.

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