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

Photogallery Early Nigeria Results Show Buhari Leading; Tampering Concerns Mount

One local group monitoring polls is concerned politicians might use security agencies to 'fiddle with the election collation process' at state level More

UN: 7,300 Civilians Killed in Boko Haram Insurgency

A senior UN humanitarian official tells the United Nations Security Council 1,000 people have been killed this year More

Turkish President Warns Iran About Trying to Dominate Middle East

Warning comes amid growing concerns inside Turkey that it will be sucked into a sectarian conflict with its neighbor 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.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

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