An important ruling is expected Wednesday
on a disputed border region in Sudan. The
ruling from the Abyei Arbitration Tribunal could determine the boundaries of
the oil-rich Abyei region and directly affect the 2005 Comprehensive Peace
Agreement (CPA). The CPA ended a long
civil war between northern and southern Sudan.
the ENOUGH Project issued a new strategy paper on Abyei. Colin Thomas-Jensen, policy advisor and co-author
of the paper, spoke to VOA about why he considers Abyei the next big test for
now seen a renewal of commitment by both sides…to implementation of the CPA at
a conference in Washington last month.
But I think that this ruling over the Abyei boundary…is really going to
be a test of that commitment," he says.
permanent court of arbitration in The Hague is ruling essentially on whether a
boundary commission established by the Comprehensive Peace Agreement has in fact
exceeded its mandate. And if it has,
then the tribunal…will provide its own reading of the border," he says.
governments of the north and south say they will abide by the ruling.
describes Abyei as "Sudan in microcosm that is claimed both by southerners and
northerners. It's an area where
pastoralists come into contact with more sedentary agricultural groups. And of course underlying it all there is an issue
Warning signs of renewed war
"One, you have troops loyal to the
government in the north that are already clearly in violation of the agreement
where they're stationed. Two, you have
an ongoing arms race between the north and the south, including provision of
new tanks (in the south) and new fighter aircraft (in the north).
was the scene of clashes last year.
know that this is a hot spot. We know
that both sides are arming themselves to the teeth and we already have
indications that troops are violating the agreed upon parameters of their
deployment,' he says.
Recommendations to Obama administration
"Recognizing that the threat of
violence in the wake of the ruling on Wednesday is very real…. Maintaining a
high-level diplomatic presence in Abyei…. Deploying peacekeepers more
effectively…. Work assiduously to disseminate the ruling and counter the
propaganda coming from both sides," he says.
he acknowledges that these are "damage control" measures and more needs to be
think ultimately what the administration needs to do…is it's got to work on a
very high level to establish a plan for implementation of the tribunal's ruling
with clear benchmarks," he says.
If those benchmarks are not met, he
says, penalties should be in place "for the parties that are obstructing