News / Africa

Crisis Group: Sudan at 'Tipping Point' Over Abyei Clashes

Armed men walk past on April 17, 2011 as resentment towards the capital Khartoum runs high in the restive town of Abyei, on the Sudanese north-south border, which suffers from chronic underdevelopment despite its strategic importance and the area's rich n
Armed men walk past on April 17, 2011 as resentment towards the capital Khartoum runs high in the restive town of Abyei, on the Sudanese north-south border, which suffers from chronic underdevelopment despite its strategic importance and the area's rich n
Michael Onyiego

As north and south Sudan agree to a troop withdrawal in the disputed region of Abyei, the International Crisis Group is warning that rising tensions in the region could threaten the broader peace as Sudan prepares for its July split.  

In an effort to quell clashes between armed groups and security forces in Sudan’s oil-producing Abyei region, the governments of north and south Sudan began to withdraw forces from the area Tuesday, turning control over to a jointly operated force.

A statement released late Sunday by the United Nations said representatives from the two sides had agreed to remove "all unauthorized forces" from the region.

Abyei straddles the border between north and south Sudan and has been a hotly contested region ever since the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, which ended more than 20 years of civil war.

The CPA called for a referendum to be held in Abyei to determine its status, alongside the January referendum which created an independent south Sudan.  But disputes over border demarcation and voter eligibility have postponed the process indefinitely, further inflaming tensions.

With south Sudan preparing to officially secede from Khartoum on July 9, the International Crisis Group’s Zach Vertin says the Abyei issue will be crucial in ensuring a smooth transition.

"There are definitely broader implications as further deterioration in Abyei presents not only grave risks for the people in Abyei but could inflame north-south proxy conflicts elsewhere, threaten peaceful secession of the south in July and undermine efforts toward a constructive north-south relationship beyond July 2011," Vertin said.  

Abyei is inhabited by members of the Ngok Dinka, a group affiliated with the south.  But the region is also claimed by the northern-affiliated Misseriya tribe as a traditional grazing area. Clashes between the two groups in the lead-up to the referendum led both north and south Sudan to build up their troop deployments in the area.

Last week, 14 people were killed when fighting broke out between the two sides. The Brussels-based Crisis Group warns that the clashes have pushed north and south Sudan to the brink of war.

Both sides have also laid unilateral claims to the region, with north Sudan even threatening to withhold recognition of the south come July.

With tensions running high, the prospects of an actual referendum to decide the fate of Abyei look dim.

According to Vertin, there is momentum for a political settlement fueled by progress in broader post referendum talks over oil, citizenship and borders.

"There certainly have been put forward solutions that could solve the Abyei issue among political elites in Khartoum and Juba," Vertin said. "But what’s necessary for sustainable peace is selling that on the ground to the Ngok Dinka and Misseriya communities."

For now, security in the Abyei region will be maintained by the Joint Integrated Unit, a force created by the CPA with elements of both the north's Sudanese Armed Forces and the south's Sudan People’s Liberation Army.  The joint force is considered a largely failed component of the peace agreement but was seen as the only viable and immediate solution to the escalating violence.

You May Like

Uganda Court Annuls Anti-Gay Law

Court says law was passed in parliament without enough members present for a full quorum More

Multimedia Thailand Makes Efforts to Improve Conditions for Migrant Laborers

In Thailand, its not uncommon for parents to bring their children to work; one company, in-collaboration with other organizations, address safety concerns More

In Indonesia, Jihad Video Raises Concern

Video calls on Indonesians to join Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL 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.
In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborersi
X
Steve Herman
August 01, 2014 6:22 PM
Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborers

Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video Public Raises its Voice on Power Plant Pollution

In the United States, proposed rules to cut pollution from the nation’s 600 coal-fired power plants are generating a heated debate. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, charged with writing and implementing the plan, has already received 300,000 written comments. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, another 1,600 people are lining up this week at EPA headquarters and at satellite offices around the country to give their testimony in person.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

The public in China is welcoming the Communist Party's decision to investigate one of the country's once most powerful politicians, former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang. Analysts say the move by President Xi Jinping is not only an effort to win more support for the party, but an essential step to furthering much needed economic reforms and removing those who would stand in the way of change. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.

AppleAndroid