Khartoum — The Misseriya tribe announced Tuesday, the organisation of an unilateral referendum to determine the fate of the disputed area of Abyei in riposte to the process organised by the Ngok Dinka who prepare to announce the results of their vote.
People from the Misseriya tribe of Abyei protest against the proposal of African Union (AU) mediator former South African president Thabko Mbeki for a referendum to decide whether the region belonged to Sudan or South Sudan, outside the United Nations (U.N.) and AU headquarters in Khartoum, Sudan, November 28, 2012. (File photo/ Reuters)
The National Youth and Student Organisation for Abyei, a youth group composed by Misseriya and Ngok Dinka youth from the disputed region announced in a press conference held in the Sudanese capital Khartoum the organisation of a popular referendum on the future on the areas.
The chairman of the group Mahmoud Abdel Karim said the vote will be open to all the resident of Abyei without excluding anyone, adding they invited regional and international organisations to monitor the process and mobilised volunteers to participate in the popular process.
He further called on the Sudanese, South Sudanese governments, African Union and the United Nations to recognise the result of their referendum .
The group's secretary general, Ggor Deng, denounced the ongoing vote in in the region organised by Abyei high referendum committee, adding they welcomed the outcome of the presidential summit in Juba and support the establishment of joint administration and legislative council in Abyei as well as the police force.
Presidents Omer Al-Bashir and Salva Kiir agreed in a meeting held in Juba on 22 October to form the temporary institutions agreed on 20 June 2011 and to resume their discussions over the organisation of a referendum in accordance with the 2005 peace agreement.
The African Union and the United Nations disapproved the vote organised by Abyei community and called to refrain from unilateral actions, fearing that it could lead to ignite tensions between Sudan and South Sudan and stop the normalisation process engaged by the two governments.
The Misseriya paramount chief Mukhtar Babu Nimir, this week strongly criticised the unilateral referendum in Abyei and warned they would organise their process to maintain Abyei in Sudan.
"We will also organise a referendum similar (to the referendum of the Dinka Ngok)..If the result of their referendum was in favor of joining the South, we will organise a referendum to join the North", he said in an interview with Al-Meghar newspaper on 25 October.
Nimir extensively spoke about the good neighbouring and coexistence between two communities and accused what he called the "intellectuals and politicians" of the Nogk Dinka of being behind this unilateral referendum.
He stressed that the tribal leaders of the Dinka Ngok are opposed to the unilateral referendum.
On the other hand, in statements to the semi-official SMC, Zakeria Atem, a tribal Ngok Dinka leader accused Kush organisation of Deng Alor and luka Biong of organising the referendum with the support of some foreign groups, adding they will stand by the Misseriya to defend the area.
Observers agree that the residents of the border area are now sharply divided between those who want to join the South Sudan and those who are supportive to maintaining Abyei within the current Sudan.
Khartoum and Juba failed to hold a referendum on Abyei in January 2011 as provided in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement because they did not agree on who is eligible to vote.
The African Union mediation panel failed to broker an agreement between the two sides who reject all the proposals it advanced in this respect since 2010.
However, the African Union Peace and Security Council expressed its support the latest proposition made by the head of the mediation Thabo Mbeki in September 2012 which says that only the Ngok Dinka vote in the referendum.
The proposition is in line with the position of the South Sudan which had rejected a proposal aiming to divide the region between the two countries.
The leaders of Abyei high referendum committee say they were forced to organise their own process as the two countries did not strike a deal and there is no horizon for an agreement over the voter eligibility.
The organisers who vowed to seek international support to the outcome of their process further say they are acting within the framework of the rule of the international arbitration court which provides that Abyei belongs to the nine chiefdoms of the Ngok Dinka.
The Misseriya, who repeat they hosted in the Ngok in their land, have rejected the rule. Their leader Mukhtar Babu Nimir said for the time being they support the position of the Sudanese government because it is in accord with their position.
"Yes, we fully agree with the government in the North, This is why we do not want to disagree with them", he said about the position of the Sudanese government.
The nomads who fought against the former SPLM rebels before the signing of the CPA in 2005, say they are ready to defend their land if Khartoum accept a referendum excluding them.