Will Abyei be the stumbling block in a successful Sudan partition?

2011-04-28 13:16

Khartoum will not recognise the new state of south Sudan when it declares independence in July if it insists on claiming the disputed Abyei region, President Omar al-Bashir warned today.

“If they put Abyei in the constitution of the new state of South Sudan, we will not recognise the new state,” Bashir told thousands of supporters at a local election rally in South Kordofan, in which the flashpoint border area currently lies. The speech was broadcast live on state television.

Abyei is the most intractable of a raft of issues North and South Sudan are struggling to negotiate ahead of partition, after southerners voted almost unanimously to split with their former civil war enemies in January’s referendum.

Last week, a draft interim constitution for the south was presented to southern president Salva Kiir at a ceremony in Juba, explicitly stating that Abyei fell within the territory of south Sudan, as confirmed by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague in 2009.

Bashir was addressing a rally in Fula, a town in north Sudan’s key oil-producing state of South Kordofan, where gubernatorial and state assembly elections are due on May 2.

He and other senior northern officials have campaigned energetically on behalf of Ahmed Harun, the existing governor and a stalwart of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP).

Harun, who like the Sudanese president is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes in the Darfur, is running for re-election against his deputy, Abdelaziz al-Hilu, the leader of the northern branch of south Sudan’s ruling party the SPLM.

At a similar rally yesterday in Muglad, the historical capital of the Misseriya Arab nomads, Bashir told a large crowd of supporters that Abyei belonged to the north.

“For 22 years, the rebels were not able to enter the region, because it was guarded by you,” he said.

“I will repeat it 100 times: Abyei is a part of the north and it will remain a part of the north,” he added.

The Misseriya, who were a key proxy militia of Khartoum’s army during the 1983-2005 civil war against southern rebels, migrate to Abyei each dry season to find water and pasture for their livestock.

South Kordofan witnessed fierce fighting during the conflict and strong links to the south remain.

The Misseriya fear their migration routes could be blocked by a new international border if Abyei joins the south, as demanded by the pro-southern Dinka Ngok, who live there all year.

Tensions between the two sides have been boiling since January, when a plebiscite to determine Abyei’s future status was shelved indefinitely, due to disagreement over whether the Misseriya should be eligible to participate.

Violence erupted at the end of February, in which at least 70 people were killed and two villages razed in several days of fighting.

United Nations peacekeepers and international monitoring groups have since warned of a build-up of heavy weapons in the area that has raised fears of an escalation to the violence.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.