Sudan's Missiriya tribe warns of war

Khartoum - Sudan's powerful Missiriya tribe on Wednesday warned it would fight anyone who prevented its members voting in a referendum on whether the oil-producing central Abyei region will join the south in a likely secession.

Sudan ended Africa's longest running civil war with a 2005 peace deal but north and south were unable to agree on the future of Abyei, which many fear will become Sudan's "Kashmir", a problem that could reignite conflict if left unresolved.

Abyei residents are set to vote on January 09 in a plebiscite to be held simultaneously with a referendum on southern independence, which analysts believe will result in secession.

The north says the Arab nomadic Missiriya, who spend months each year grazing cattle in Abyei, should vote in the plebiscite but the south disagrees. The resulting deadlock has stalled planning and the two have yet to agree on a commission to organise the vote due in almost three months.

"If they don't accept our votes in the referendum there will be no voting," the head of the Missiriya, Mokhtar Babo Nimr, told Reuters on Wednesday.

"We will use force to achieve our rights and we will use weapons against anyone who tries to stop us from voting in the referendum," he warned.

The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled on Abyei's borders after the north-south former foes could not agree. But the frontier has not been demarcated on the ground because of threats from the Missiriya who reject the ruling.

List of demands


Eye witnesses said about 2 000 Missiriya demonstrated in the central town of Muglad on Wednesday and handed a list of demands to the UN office there including reviewing Abyei's borders and their right to vote in the plebiscite.

"If they don't meet our demands then we will set everything alight," said Babo Nimr. "If that leads to war then so be it."

Analysts believe unresolved disputes between local communities such as the Missiriya could flare up and drag the north and south back into the devastating civil war which claimed two million lives and destabilised much of east Africa.

The cattle-herding Missiriya fear if the south secedes and the north-south border becomes an international boundary, they will lose grazing rights to the land and their livelihoods.

The tribe is heavily armed and some tribesmen were recruited by the northern government to fight the south as a proxy militia during the north-south conflict.

Abyei is on the Muglad basin which produces Sudan's most valuable Nile Blend crude but further exploration has been hindered by insecurity in the area.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
Are you going to keep wearing a mask following the announcement that it is no longer required under law?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
No ways, I'm done
5% - 6042 votes
Yes, I still want to be cautious
90% - 107475 votes
Only certain circumstances
5% - 5397 votes
Vote
Rand - Dollar
16.42
-0.8%
Rand - Pound
19.79
+0.1%
Rand - Euro
17.08
-0.1%
Rand - Aus dollar
11.15
+0.8%
Rand - Yen
0.12
-1.3%
Gold
1,801.63
-0.3%
Silver
19.75
-2.6%
Palladium
1,961.50
+1.1%
Platinum
882.50
-1.7%
Brent Crude
109.03
-3.1%
Top 40
59,640
-0.8%
All Share
65,662
-0.9%
Resource 10
61,245
-3.9%
Industrial 25
80,264
+1.1%
Financial 15
14,564
-0.8%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.

LEARN MORE