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

US Storm Falls Short of Severe Predictions, Yet Affects Millions

NYC mayor says, 'This is nothing like we feared it would be,' yet blizzard warnings, travel bans remain for several East Coast states More

Millions of Displaced Nigerians Struggle with Daily Existence

Government acknowledges over a million people were displaced in 2014 due to fight against Boko Haram insurgency More

Facebook: Internal Error to Blame for Outages

Temporary outage appeared to spill over and temporarily slow or block traffic to other major Internet sites 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.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid