News / Africa

Northern Sudan Official Outlines Abyei Peace Issues

Hundreds of southern Sudanese take part in a demonstration against northern Sudan's military incursion into the border town of Abyei in the southern capital of Juba, Sudan, May 23, 2011
Hundreds of southern Sudanese take part in a demonstration against northern Sudan's military incursion into the border town of Abyei in the southern capital of Juba, Sudan, May 23, 2011
TEXT SIZE - +

As northern Sudanese troops continue to occupy Abyei - an area both north and south Sudan claim as their own - a Sudanese official has outlined what he says are major stumbling blocks to peace in the area.

The Sudanese ambassador to Kenya, Kamal Ismail Saeed, told reporters in Nairobi that northern government troops would pull out of Abyei once outstanding issues are resolved.

"Yes, we have received several calls and appeals from different corners of the world for the withdrawal of our forces," said Saeed. "We said, 'OK, we are open for any type of negotiations,' we would like to sit and agree. Whenever we agree, we will be in line with that agreement."

Saeed did not specify what the subject of those specific negotiations would be. But during his statement, he named several issues of concern to Khartoum.

Saeed said the May 21st occupation of the disputed area by the Sudanese Armed Forces was the result of what he calls 24 "provocations" by forces of the southern Sudan Peoples' Liberation Army. He said the last straw was the May 19 attack on an SAF convoy, allegedly the work of the SPLA.

"I think that was a serious blow, which ended the continuous patience and self-restraint of SAF, so it responded in self-defense, and as a matter of fact, it has knocked out all aggressors in the area," said Saeed.

He also decried the postponement of a referendum that was supposed to be held in Abyei in January, in which the people of the area would have voted on whether to join north or south Sudan. Saeed accuses the southern Sudanese government of restricting who could vote in that referendum.

Southern Sudanese government spokesman Barnaba Marial Benjamin could not be reached for comment, despite repeated attempts. But the spokesman was quoted in news reports as saying that it is an "absolute lie" the SPLA is trying to enforce its presence in Abyei.

He told the French news agency that last Saturday's attack, in his words, "is an illegal invasion and breaks all the peace agreements, endangering the lives of thousands of civilians."

The U.N. Security Council has called for the northern government to withdraw its troops from Abyei immediately.

North and south Sudan were at war for more than two decades, which ended with both sides signing a Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005.

Southerners voted overwhelmingly to separate from the north in a January 2011 referendum that was part of the CPA. South Sudan is scheduled to become an independent country on July 9, but many fear this might not happen because of the Abyei dispute.

Fouad Hikmat is African Union and Sudan Special Advisor for the International Crisis Group. He said he thinks the two sides can reach an agreement on the Abyei issue before the July 9 independence date.

"There is now a characteristic of the Sudanese politicians that things are always resolved in the last five seconds before midnight," said Hikmat. "Then, for the moment, what is important is that the situation does not escalate (into violence)."

Hikmat said that both sides can use the Abyei Protocol created under the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement to resolve the issue even beyond the July 9 independence date.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid