News / Africa

South Sudan Presses for Abyei Referendum

South Sudan's President Salva Kiir (3rd L) shakes hands with Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir as he arrives for talks at Khartoum Airport, Sept. 3, 2013.South Sudan's President Salva Kiir (3rd L) shakes hands with Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir as he arrives for talks at Khartoum Airport, Sept. 3, 2013.
South Sudan's President Salva Kiir (3rd L) shakes hands with Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir as he arrives for talks at Khartoum Airport, Sept. 3, 2013.
South Sudan's President Salva Kiir (3rd L) shakes hands with Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir as he arrives for talks at Khartoum Airport, Sept. 3, 2013.
James Butty
South Sudan has called on the international community to ensure quick implementation of the agreement to hold a referendum to determine the final status of the disputed oil-rich border region of Abyei.  

Foreign Minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin said the referendum is the only democratic way for the people of Abyei to decide whether they want to remain in the north or return to the south.  

The 2005 peace agreement between North and South Sudan called for a referendum for the people of Abyei to decide if they want to remain part of Sudan or South Sudan.  

The African Union High Implementation Panel has set October for the referendum to be held.  But, while Juba supports a referendum, Khartoum is opposed and favors a negotiated political settlement.  

Benjamin said Juba received international backing during the 68th UN General Assembly for the referendum to take place as planned.

“During the annual General Assembly of heads of state in New York, both the foreign minister of Sudan and me as the foreign minister of South Sudan, were invited to brief the African Union Peace and Security Council. On our side, we briefed our commitment for the referendum to go ahead in Abyei.  The majority of members of the African Union endorsed the legality of conducting a referendum in Abyei,” he said.

Benjamin said both Sudan and South Sudan also briefed a UN team, including the five permanent member countries of the Security Council, as well as member countries of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).

“So, yes indeed, by all assessment, we got the support that the proposal of the African Union on referendum should be implemented.  What they have not done is that they have not fixed the date of that referendum which is supposed take place in October,” he said.

Benjamin said the international community must put pressure on Sudan to accept the proposal for a referendum.

“That’s why, in my briefing to the African Union Peace and Security Council in New York, I told the members that they need to persuade Sudan to go along with the decision that has been agreed upon by us as partners as well as a comprised proposal by the African Union which is blessed by the UN Security Council [Resolution] 2046.  So, what has not been done is for Sudan to agree to that and for a date to be fixed.  And this is why we need pressure from all these countries to put on Sudan to go along,” Benjamin said.

Benjamin said South Sudan is ready to make whatever contribution it can make towards financing the referendum.  But, he says it is the responsibility of the entire international community.

“I think the commitment is not only the commitment of the Republic of South Sudan.  We will make our own little contribution, according to our own ability.  But, it is the commitment of the international community, as a whole, the African Union and the United Nations system,” Benjamin said.

Abyei is inhabited by the Misseriya tribe of Arab origin supported by the north and the Ngok Dinka tribe, which enjoys support in South Sudan.

The Khartoum government is opposed to the idea of a referendum and favors a negotiated political settlement.

Benjamin said the referendum is the only democratic solution and that the people of Abyei are ready for it.

“You remember Abyei in 1905 was a part of South Sudan, and then it was transferred for administrative reasons into the northern part of the Sudan. Now, with the CPA [Comprehensive Peace Agreement] protocol on Abyei, we equally agreed that the people of Abyei shall have a referendum to choose whether they remain in the north or to come back to where they were taken from in the beginning.  So, yes, the referendum issue is a part of the political settlement of the whole final settlement of Abyei,” he said.
Butty interview with Benjamin
Butty interview with Benjamini
|| 0:00:00

You May Like

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

New methods for mapping pain in the brain not only validate sufferers of chronic pain but might someday also lead to better treatment More

Sierra Leone's Stray Dog Population Doubles During Ebola Crisis

Many dog owners fear their pets could infect them with the virus and have abandoned them, leading to the increase and sparking fears of rabies More

Fake, Substandard Medicines Pose Global Challenge

So-called 'fake drugs' include expired medicines, those with manufacturing defects, and bogus tablets More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: malong Guot Deng from: Yei
October 09, 2013 9:13 AM
Referendum is the only dialogue for Abyei

by: Yaiyaat from: Abyei
October 09, 2013 8:17 AM
Thank a lot for telling me about news thing

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Paini
Shelley Schlender
April 20, 2015 7:03 PM
Pain has a purpose - it can stop you from touching a flame or from walking on a broken leg. As an injury heals, the pain goes away. Usually. But worldwide, one out of every five people suffers from pain that lasts for months and years, leading to lost jobs, depression, and rising despair when medical interventions fail or health experts hint that a pain sufferer is making it up. From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.

Video Italy Rescues Migrants After Separate Deadly Capsize Incident

Italy continued its massive search and rescue operation in the Mediterranean Monday for the capsized boat off the coast of Libya that was carrying hundreds of migrants, while at the same time rescuing Syrian migrants from another vessel off the coast of Sicily. Thirteen children were among the 98 Syrian migrants whose boat originated from Turkey on the perilous journey to Europe.

Video New Test Set to Be Game Changer in Eradicating Malaria

The World Health Organization estimates 3.4 billion people are at risk of malaria, with children under the age of five and pregnant women being the most vulnerable. As World Malaria Day approaches (April 25), mortality rates are falling, and a new test -- well into the last stage of trials -- is having positive results in Kenya. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA from Nairobi.

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.

VOA Blogs