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

Hostage Crisis Could Divide Japan Over Plans to Boost Military

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Monday the government is working closely with the Jordanian government to secure the release of remaining Japanese hostage Kenji Goto More

Video Brussels Shaken as New Greek Leader Challenges Europe’s Austerity Drive

Country's youngest ever PM Alexis Tsipras, 40, sworn in Monday and says he will restore dignity to Greece by ending spending cuts More

Multimedia National Geographic Photo Camps Empower Youth

Annual mentoring program's mission is to give young people a voice to tell their own stories through photography 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