Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
UN confirms Sudan pullout from disputed Abyei region
Sudan has pulled its troops out of the disputed border region of Abyei, according to the UN.
The UN peacekeeping mission in Abyei confirmed the withdrawal took place late on Tuesday evening.
The pullout comes as negotiators from Sudan and South Sudan meet in Ethiopia to begin talks over several disputes.The Abyei region has been a flashpoint area in the months since South Sudan's independence
Abyei is claimed by both Sudan and the South, which became independent in 2011 after a long civil war. Sudan's forces seized Abyei last May.
Tens of thousands of civilians were displaced when the Sudanese army took control of the region in three days of clashes with South Sudanese troops.
Its status was left undecided in the 2005 peace deal between the two sides, and a referendum on the issue has been postponed indefinitely.
Sudanese officials had said the pullout was designed to aid the progress of the peace talks.Mutual distrust
The talks in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa are expected to cover several border disputes that have caused friction, including Abyei.
But the level of distrust between the two sides is considerable, and rapid progress on the many areas of substantial disagreement is unlikely, the BBC's James Copnall in Khartoum reports.
South Sudanese officials have also accused Sudan of carrying out bombing raids in border areas of South Sudan in recent days.
"Today the Sudan armed forces are still bombing in Warguet area," South Sudanese Information Minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin told Reuters as the talks were due to begin.
Misseriya, a Sudanese group, take their cattle through the region every year.
Sudanese officials denied attacking the South.
There are strong feelings in both countries about Abyei. TheBut the Dinka Ngok, the permanent residents of the area, want Abyei to be part of South Sudan.
But even if from now on the only troops in Abyei are UN peacekeepers, the underlying problem of how to decide its future remains, our correspondent says.Outstanding disputes
In April, cross-border clashes centred on the neighbouring oil-rich region of Heglig brought Sudan and South Sudan close to all-out war.
In the same month, the South's troops occupied Heglig for a week. It said it pulled out in response to international pressure, but Sudan said it reconquered the territory.
The UN Security Council has called on both countries to cease all bombing and cross-border fighting.
Outstanding issues also include disputes over oil revenues and the situation of the estimated half a million South Sudanese still living in Sudan.
Sudan: A country divided
Both Sudan and the South are reliant on their oil revenues, which account for 98% of South Sudan's budget. But the two countries cannot agree how to divide the oil wealth of the former united state. Some 75% of the oil lies in the South but all the pipelines run north. It is feared that disputes over oil could lead the two neighbours to return to war.
Thursday, May 24, 2012
May 21, 2012 (JUBA) - A group of activists on Monday demanded that UN peace keepers forcefully remove the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) troops from Abyei, nearly a week after Sudan ignored a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution demanding the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all its remaining military and police personnel from the disputed region.
- Abyei, January 12, 2011 (AFP / Getty)
At a press briefing organised to mark the first anniversary of SAF’s alleged invasion of Abyei, members of the Abyei Community Organization (ACO) in Juba expressed concern over the continued presence of Khartoum’s forces in the region, after South Sudan’s withdrawl of over 700 police personnel.
South Sudan complied with the UNSC resolution endorsing recommendations from the African Union’s Peace and Security Council (AUPSC), which demanded that both Sudan and South Sudan withdraw their forces from Abyei, to prevent further conflict between the two nations.
Welcoming the withdrawal of South Sudanese military and police personnel from Abyei, the UNSC stated that “the Abyei area shall be demilitarized from any forces other than UNISFA [UN Interim Security Force for Abyei] and the Abyei Police Service”.
Describing the people of Abyei as “victims of a dishonored agreement,” Deng Mading, the chairperson of the ACO accused UNISFA of being “compromised” by Khartoum, the interests of which it is furthering.
“SAF remains in Abyei to-date, despite warnings from UNSC for them to withdraw. But why is the international community silent over the matter?” Mading asked.
UNIFSA was established by the UNSC in June 2011 following an outbreak of violence between Juba and Khartoum’s troops. The 4,200 Ethiopia troops are tasked with monitoring the demilitarisation of the region which occupied by SAF in May 2011.
Last week, the UNSC passed a resolution renewing the mandate of UN peacekeepers in Abyei for six months, further demanding that Sudan and South Sudan establish an administration for Abyei in-line with an agreement signed last year.
The UNSC also expressed its intention to review UNISFA mandate after four months, in light of the levels of compliance to the agreement set out in Juba, shown by Juba and Khartoum.
Mading accused the Misseriya ethnic group of invading Dinka-Ngok communities and raiding 700 heads of cattle and 300 goats in the presence of UN peacekeepers. The incident, he added, took place immediately after South Sudanese forces withdrew from Abyei.
A referendum in which the citizens of the area would be able to decide on its statehood was scheduled to take place in 2011. However, with the eligibility to vote of different ethnic groups still a matter of contention it has not yet taken place.
The Misseriya are nomadic and traditionally aligned with Khartoum. They spend part of the year in the region, but not enough to vote, according to many of the Juba-aligned Ngok-Dinka ethnic group who also live in the region.
“One then wonders why the SPLA [South Sudan’s army; Sudan People’s Liberation Army] is rushing to implement the UNSC resolution, yet their counterparts [SAF] remain defiant. This is unrealistic,” said Mading.
He also urged South Sudan’s negotiation team to not discuss matters related to Abyei with Sudan, until the latter complies with the UN resolution and completely withdraws its forces from the disputed region.
He echoed South Sudan’s ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement’s (SPLM) calls for the Thabo-Mbeki led African Union High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) on Sudan to be replaced by the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), describing the AU initiative as a “non-starter”.
Chargé d’Affairs in the South Sudanese embassy in Kenya, John Andruga, was the first to direct his criticism against Mbeki in April, describing him as "partisan and not credible".
“If Thabo Mbeki was dismissed by his own party in South Africa while he was president, then what do you think he has to offer for South Sudan as a mediator?” he asked.
Last week’s UN resolution on Abyei urged Sudan and South Sudan to make regular use of the Abyei Joint Oversight Committee (AJOC) in order to ensure steady progress on implementation of the June 2011 agreement.
The pact, which was signed in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, provides temporary administrative arrangements for Abyei and the withdrawal of troops by both sides.
The UNSC urged all Member States, particularly Sudan and South Sudan, to ensure that UNISFA personnel, equipment, supplies, vehicles and so on, can move unimpeded throughout the Safe Demilitarized Border Zone.
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
May 21, 2012 (KHARTOUM) – Sudanese government is expecting to get an important Arab support in a ministerial meeting to be held next month to discuss ways to boost peace and development in the troubled east African country.
- Sudan’s Foreign Minister Ali Ahmed Karti attends the Arab League foreign ministers meeting in Baghdad March 28, 2012. (Reuters)
Last March the Arab summit held in Bagdad decided to convene a special meeting at the level of foreign minister to discuss how the states members can support Sudan which is facing economic and political crisis.
Nabil al-Arabi, Arab League Secretary general, was Sunday in Khartoum for talks with president Omer Hassan al-Bashir on to discuss the preparations of this meeting which will take place on 5 june. He also met with Tijani al-Sissi, head of Darfur Regional Authority.
Foreign minister, Ali Ahmed Karti told reporters on Sunday that Sudan has the full support of the Arab league and praised its stance over the Heglig’s seizure by the South Sudanese army.
He further stressed that Khartoum expects influential Arab countries can play a role in the resolution of the conflict with Juba. He also paid tribute to the Arab efforts to end Darfur crisis.
Karti further expressed hopes that the Arab League can convince South Sudan to back on going efforts to achieve peace there and to push rebels to join the peace process.
Sudan concluded security agreements with Chad, Central African and Libya and formed joint patrols to monitor the common border with these three nations. In the past months it said wanting a similar deal with Juba to cover the 2000 kilometers of joint border.
Al-Arabi, in statements after his meeting with Bashir, reaffirmed Arab support to Sudan in all the issues related to the protection of its sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity.
He disclosed that he and Sudanese president "talked about the issues related to Sudan’s relations with South Sudan."
The Arab League like other international and regional organizations condemned the 10-day occupation of Heglig by South Sudanese troops but it did not take any particular initiative towards Sudan.
Khartoum accuses Juba of openly supporting the rebels of Sudan Revolutionary Front which seeks to overthrow the regime. Sudan also accuses Uganda and Israel of supporting these groups in coordination with Juba.