President Salva Kiir has handed over the Abyei area dossier to a prominent area leader, Deng Alor, to follow up on the resolution of the final status of the region.
In a Republican decree issued last week, Kiir authorized Deng Alor to expeditiously work towards the implementation of the final status of Abyei.
In 2011, leaders in South Sudan and Sudan missed an opportunity to organize a referendum simultaneously with the self-determination exercise in South Sudan, as prescribed in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement of 2005.
The Abyei Area was accorded a “special administrative status” by the 2004 Protocol on the Resolution of the Abyei Conflict, known as, the Abyei Protocol,
Under the terms of the Protocol, the Abyei Area was declared part of the states of South Kordofan and Northern Bahr el Ghazal and issues related to it to be determined by the Presidency made up of President Salva Kiir and former Sudanese President Omar al Bashir.
After years of contentions between leaders in South Sudan and Sudan on who is eligible to vote in the referendum, the nine Ngok Dinka chiefdoms took the matter into their own hands by organizing their own popular vote.
They cited the Abyei Protocol in the CPA, and the ruling by the International Permanent Court of Arbitration, that proclaimed that only the Ngok Dinka tribe and permanent residents may vote.
The Sudanese government wanted the nomadic Arab Misseriya tribe, whose cattle accesses pasture lands in Abyei annually, be accorded full voting rights.
Deng Alor Kuol told Eye Radio that they would “only look at the road map of the Abyei area after conducting” their own referendum.
On the 31st October 2013, the Chairperson of the Abyei Area Community Referendum Commission, Monyluak Alor declared that a total number of 63,059 people, making the percentage of 99.99 voted to join South Sudan.
The government of South Sudan failed to officially recognize the results despite several calls by the area resident for the parliament in Juba to endorse their decision.
Last year, the Abyei Administration Area tabled its draft constitution for the first reading at the area assembly, because it had been operating under what they called “basic laws.”
“There was no proper administration in the area. At least we need to have also laws, and that’s why we came up with the constitution which we tabled and then it is to be passed by the area assembly,” said Kon Mayiith, the area Deputy Chief Administrator.
The United Nations said several events such as instabilities in Sudan and South Sudan have overtaken the Abyei issue, although unofficially various leaders from the two countries made remarks on the issue.
It said that the domestic issues affecting South Sudan and Sudan have overshadowed their willingness in resolving the Abyei issue.
This is the first act in a long time for President Kiir to officially assign the Abyei file to Deng Alor.
It is not clear what steps Mr Alor will take to enable the two countries settle the contentions in the final status of the Abyei area.
There have been concerns over the lack of implementation of the work of the Joint Border and Verification Monitoring Mechanism by South Sudan and Sudan in regards to Abyei area.
Sudan was also required to remove its armed police from around an oil facility in Diffra, as demanded by several UN Security Council resolutions.
Over the years, there have also been reports of criminal activities including cattle rustling, carjacking, robbery, and grenade attack in Amiet market.
An official of the SPLM in Abyei, Waar Majak had said suspected armed men from Sudan continue to carry out attacks on residents of Abyei -mostly at night when the UNISFA forces have concluded patrols in the area.
UNISFA was authorized to use force to protect civilians and humanitarian workers in Abyei, after South Sudan and Sudan agreed through a deal, brokered by former South African President Thabo Mbeki, for a third party to monitor the flashpoint border between the north and south.
But just two weeks ago [July 2019], 7 civilians and one UN peacekeeper were reportedly killed in an attack on the disputed border region.
Read related story: https://eyeradio.org/7-civilians-un-peacekeeper-killed-in-abyei/
The Deputy Administrator of the Abyei administrative area, Kon Manyith, said the attackers killed two women, two children, and three men.
“An armed group came and attacked the Amiet market at night and they looted about 150 personal cattle and like seven or eight people were killed and the criminals have not been really apprehended,” he said.
Deng Alor is expected to reconstitute teams that will conduct regular meetings between the two countries in order to address the challenges of the Abyei area.
An official of the area, Malong Tong had earlier said it’s been difficult for leaders from South Sudan and Sudan to meet due to lack of clarity on issues to be discussed and the strong position taken by either side on the Abyei issue.
Despite the absence of any discussions on the Abyei issue, Deng Alor in his remarks in 2017 told Abyei intellectuals in Juba expressed optimism that the issue will be resolved soon.
An organization called the Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) has called on the governments of Sudan and South Sudan to honour their commitments under the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), by withdrawing unauthorized security personnel from the area and facilitating a referendum in accordance with agreed international stipulations.
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