News / Africa

North-South Sudan Talks Fail; More Scheduled

A 2009 aerial shot of Abyei town, south Sudan (File)
A 2009 aerial shot of Abyei town, south Sudan (File)

Talks between north and south Sudan on the fate of the strategic Abyei border region have ended without agreement, casting doubt on the south's January independence referendum.  Frantic diplomatic efforts are on to salvage the 2005 peace agreement that ended Sudan's 20 year civil war.

Sudan's Vice-President Ali Osman Taha flew from Khartoum to the southern capital, Juba Tuesday for urgent talks with South Sudan President Salva Kir.  The hastily-arranged meeting came after the southern delegation walked out of U.S.-mediated negotiations with the Khartoum government over the Abyei region.

A joint statement issued by the two sides after the breakdown blamed the failure on a dispute over who would be eligible to vote in a scheduled referendum on whether oil-rich Abyei would become part of the north or the south in the likely event the south votes to secede in January.  The statement said negotiators would meet again in Addis Ababa at the end of this month.

As he left the talks, Southern People's Liberation Front Secretary General Pagan Amum accused northern negotiators of threatening Sudan's fragile peace by demanding the inclusion of large numbers of northern-allied nomads of the Misseriyah tribe on Abyei's voter rolls.

"These talks have failed to reach any agreement, unfortunately, because the National Congress Party came with a fresh new claim that Abyei belongs to the north and belonged to the Misseriya people," he said.

A resident of Abyei marches with the Southern Sudan flag (File)
A resident of Abyei marches with the Southern Sudan flag (File)

Amum tells VOA that with south Sudan's January 9 independence referendum fast approaching, failure to settle the Abyei issue could plunge the country back into war.

"We are left with 90 days, the time is very critical, and if the parties fail to sort out these issues, this could lead to an end of the peace process itself and the peace may unravel in the Sudan," said Amum.

With the talks on a referendum seemingly deadlocked, diplomats speaking privately say the focus of the past few days has been on a U.S. proposal to bypass the Abyei vote completely.  The proposal would require an advance agreement to settle the controversial citizenship and border issues.

The idea is said to have drawn interest from both sides.

Northern negotiating team leader Salah Abdallah Mohammed Ghosh said the delegations are being asked to 'think outside the box' (seek unconventional solutions) to find a way around a potentially disastrous referendum.

"We, the SPLM, and the mediators feel the referendum may face some problems and we are trying to overcome those problems, and we also tackle the issue of Abyei to think of new ideas," said Gosh.  "Those new ideas may be more suitable so as to solve the issue of Abyei without going to referendum, but this will be tackled in the coming meeting in Addis by the end of October."

Mohammed Ghosh expressed confidence that, with time running out, the next round of talks would be decisive.

"We believe the two parties will agree not to go back to war, and we as Congress Party will not go back to war.  We believe we have to tackle and solve all issues peacefully and positively," he said.

Diplomats say the next round of talks will be stepped up a notch.  Vice-President Taha is due in Addis Ababa to lead the government delegation, while SPLM President Kir will represent the south.

The U.S. mediation team will also attend, led by President Barack Obama's special envoy Scott Gration.  But it will be joined by an African Union team led by special envoy, former South African president Thabo Mbeki, taking over as chairman.

You May Like

Disappointing Report on China's Economy Shakes Markets

In London and New York shares lost 3 percent, while Paris and Germany dropped around 2.4 percent More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations 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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs