News / Africa

Abyei Group Loyal to South Sudan to Hold Referendum

A group loyal to South Sudan says it will hold a referendum on the future of Abyei.
A group loyal to South Sudan says it will hold a referendum on the future of Abyei.
Andrew Green
Members of the Ngok Dinka community in the disputed Abyei region have said they plan to hold a  unilateral referendum to decide whether the area will join South Sudan or Sudan.

Delegates from the Abyei Referendum Task Force, made up of Ngok Dinka leaders who favor becoming part of  South Sudan, began registering voters at an abandoned school in the center of Abyei town on Sunday. Twenty-eight more voter registration centers have been opened across the region.

Monyluak Agany was born in the area, but fled during heavy fighting between southern forces and the Sudanese army in 2008. He says he has returned for good, and he was among the dozens who turned out to register to vote in the referendum, which is set to be held from October 27-29.

Task Force members said they plan to release the results of the unilateral referendum by October 31st.

“I will register my name in the coming minutes. It is important because we will have our rights and we will be free from any problems,” he said.

The status of the 10,000-square-kilometer area of Abyei has been in dispute since the signing of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended more than 20 years of civil war in the once-unified Sudan. Abyei was supposed to decide its status in a referendum originally scheduled for January 2011, the same time southerners voted on independence.

Prized for its fertile land and oil reserves, Abyei is claimed by the north and south, and is currently under United Nations' administration.

African Union mediators called last year for a referendum to be held this month to decide whether Abyei would belong to the north or south.

But no date has been set for the vote, and at this late stage in the month, it seems highly unlikely the AU-suggested deadline will be met.

Khartoum has repeatedly said it will not allow a proposed referendum for Abyei to go ahead, citing the fact that Misseriya nomads -- Sudanese citizens who pass through the disputed territory on their way to watering and grazing grounds for their cattle -- would not be eligible to vote. South Sudan backs the vote, but Ngok Dinka leaders say the Misseriya should not be allowed to vote because they don't live in the area year-round.

The Task Force has helped thousands of displaced residents of Abyei to return for the vote, and Task Force Chairman Deng Alor said the organizers of the referendum have no choice but to go ahead with their own vote before the month ends.

He also complained that the international community was largely indifferent to the plight of Abyei residents who want the vote to take place.

“Because the government of Sudan is not responding, the African Union is not doing anything, the international community is almost silent about it, the people of this area have decided to conduct their own referendum, and we’ll see how the African Union and the international community, the government of Sudan and the government of South Sudan will react,” he said.

More than 150,000 people are expected to take part in the vote, which is being funded by members of the Ngok Dinka community, Deng said.

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir is scheduled to arrive in Juba Tuesday to hold talks with President Salva Kiir that are expected to have the Abyei question at the top of the agenda.

South Sudan Foreign Affairs spokesman Mawien Makol Arik suggested it would be better if the Ngok Dinka waited for the two presidents to meet and for the AU to set an official date for the vote, rather than moving ahead on their own.

You May Like

Video Experts Warn World Losing Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders says world is losing battle against Ebola, unless wealthy nations dispatch specialized biological disaster response teams More

Video Experts: Rise of Islamic State Significant Development in Jihadism

Many analysts contend the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years More

US-Based Hong Kongers Pledge Support for Pro-Democracy Activists

Democracy advocates call on Chinese living abroad to join them in opposing new election rules for their home territory More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid