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

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

800-Pound Man Determined to Slim Down

Man says he was kicked out of hospital for ordering pizza; wants to be an actor More

Australia Prepares to Resettle 12,000 Syrian Refugees

Preference will be given to refugees from persecuted minorities, and the first group is expected to arrive before late December More

S. African Miners Seek Class Action Suit Against Gold Mines

The estimated 100,000 say say they contracted the lung diseases silicosis and tuberculosis in the mines More

This forum has been closed.
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.
Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemeni
Henry Ridgwell
October 12, 2015 4:03 PM
The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemen

The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video No Resolution in Sight to US House Speaker Drama

Uncertainty grips the U.S. Congress, where no consensus replacement has emerged to succeed Republican House Speaker John Boehner after his surprise resignation announcement. Half of Congress is effectively leaderless weeks before America risks defaulting on its national debt and enduring another partial government shutdown.

Video New Art Exhibit Focuses on Hope

Out of struggle and despair often comes hope. That idea is behind a new art exhibit at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. "The Big Hope Show" features 25 artists, some of whom overcame trauma and loss. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy as US Holiday

The second Monday of October is Columbus Day in the United States, honoring explorer Christopher Columbus and his discovery of the Americas. The achievement is a source of pride for many, but for some the holiday is marked by controversy. Adrianna Zhang has more.

Video Anger Simmers as Turks Begin to Bury Blast Victims

The Turkish army carried out new air strikes on Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets on Sunday, a day after the banned group announced a unilateral cease fire. The air raids apparently are in retaliation for the Saturday bombing in Turkey's capital Ankara that killed at least 95 people and wounded more than 200 others. But as Zlatica Hoke reports, there are suspicions that Islamic State is involved.

Video Bombings a Sign of Turkey’s Deep Troubles

Turkey has begun a three-day period of mourning following Saturday’s bomb attacks in the capital, Ankara, that killed nearly 100 people. With contentious parliamentary elections three weeks away, the attacks highlight the challenges Turkey is facing as it struggles with ethnic friction, an ongoing migrant crisis, and growing tensions with Russia. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Afghanistan’s Progress Aided by US Academic Center

Recent combat in Afghanistan has shifted world attention back to the central Asian nation’s continuing civil war and economic challenges. But, while there are many vexing problems facing Afghanistan’s government and people, a group of academics in Omaha, Nebraska has kept a strong faith in the nation’s future through programs to improve education. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Omaha, Nebraska.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video In 'He Named Me Malala,' Guggenheim Finds Normal in Extraordinary

Davis Guggenheim’s documentary "He Named Me Malala" offers a probing look into the life of 18-year-old Malala Yousafsai, the Pakistani teenager who, in 2012, was shot in the head by the Taliban for standing up for her right to education in her hometown in Pakistan's Swat Valley. Guggenheim shows how, since then, Malala has become a symbol not as a victim of brutal violence, but as an advocate for girls’ education throughout the world. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.

Video Paintable Solar Cells May Someday Replace Silicon-Based Panels

Solar panels today are still factory-manufactured, with the use of some highly toxic substances such as cadmium chloride. But a researcher at St. Mary’s College, Maryland, says we are close to being able to create solar panels by painting them on a suitable surface, using nontoxic solutions. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs