Sudan, S Sudan miss AU deadline

2012-12-05 07:50

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Addis Ababa - Sudan and South Sudan have failed to meet an African Union deadline to reach an agreement on the contested Abyei region by 5 December, officials said on Tuesday, with no talks scheduled on the issue.

The flashpoint Abyei region, a Lebanon-sized area claimed by both sides, is one of the most contentious outstanding issues after South Sudan won independence from former civil war foes in Khartoum in July 2011.

The African Union, which has been mediating talks between the rivals who fought bitter border battles in April and May, gave both sides six weeks from 24 October to reach a deal on Abyei.

AU's Peace and Security commissioner Ramtane Lamamra said that the mediators for the negotiations, the AU High Level Implementation Panel, has yet to set a date for the resumption of talks.

"We are in touch with our high level panel... we will wait for recommendations," Lamamra told AFP.

Although Khartoum and Juba agreed a raft of deals on oil, security and border issues in September, no agreement could be struck on Abyei.

Under an AU proposal, a referendum on whether Abyei joins Sudan or South Sudan would give members of the Dinka, a dominant South Sudanese tribe who live in the Abyei area, the right to vote along with Sudanese with "permanent abode".

On Sunday, Juba's chief negotiator Pagan Amum travelled to Khartoum for talks on stalled progress of the September deals, but no date to return to the negotiating table was set.

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