Sudan’s north raids rich Abyei

2011-05-28 15:28

More than 150 000 South Sudanese have been forcibly purged from their town and land in the disputed Abyei district and are being deliberately replaced by northern nomad tribesmen.

Peter Alier, a spokesperson for the South Sudanese government, told City Press the occupation of Abyei by tanks and soldiers of the Khartoum regime since last Sunday would not deter the separation of the South from the North in six weeks’ time.

“By their invasion and occupation the Northern forces are creating havoc.

“Their burning and looting of property has displaced thousands of our people, the indigenous Dinka Ngok tribe, in what is now effectively a military zone.

‘‘The forces of President Omar al Bashir of Sudan (who stands indicted for war crimes and genocide by the International Criminal Court) have dissolved the administration of Abyei town.

“They have forced its inhabitants into the bushes,’’ said Alier.

Earlier, Bashir told a press conference in Khartoum that “Abyei was northern territory” which will not be ceded.

Alier told City Press that al ­Bashir’s forces were now settling loyal militant Misseriya tribesman on the land, leaving the Juba government to deal with the new civilian occupation of the land should Abyei eventually become part of the south.

Part of the occupying force included feared Janjaweed-rebels from neighbouring Darfur.

Reports indicate that hundreds of people have died in the renewed conflict in the oil-rich area that has been at the heart of the dispute between North and South Sudan since before 1956.

It is also one of the main transit areas for the northern Misseriya tribes who, at this time of the year, migrate to the south to pasture their livestock.

South Sudan secedes from the North on July 8 and becomes Africa and the world’s newest independent country on the 9th.

“The invasion of Abyei will not stop us from separation. This nation has already been borne into difficulties,” said Alier.

The intensified disputes over Abyei, as well as areas where copper and agricultural rights remain unresolved, means that when South Sudan becomes independent in July, 20% of the border between the North and the South, the longest in Africa, will not be secured, leaving the door open for renewed hostilities.

The actions by Bashir’s forces have been roundly condemned by the UN Security Council.

The head of the delegation of ambassadors of the council were in Sudan at the time of the invasion.

The US ambassador to the Security Council, Susan Rice, said the invasion and occupation was “premeditated”.

South Africa, who holds a seat on the council, also criticised Khartoum’s actions and expressed deep concern over the escalation of violence in Abyei and the loss of life.

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