News / Africa

Sudan Government Cancels UN Meetings, Captures Disputed Abyei Town

A UNMIS peacekeeper patrol in Abyei, Sudan, March 11, 2011
A UNMIS peacekeeper patrol in Abyei, Sudan, March 11, 2011

Sudan has rebuffed attempts by the United Nations Security Council to intervene in a territorial dispute that threatens to mar the birth of a new Southern Sudanese state. The council responded with a strong warning that nothing should come in the way of the South’s independence in July.

The Security Council’s two-day mission to Sudan got off to a bumpy start on Sunday when meetings with Foreign Minister Ali Karti and Vice President Ali Osman Taha were abruptly canceled.  The meetings had been planned as the centerpiece of U.N. efforts to mediate the north-south dispute over control of the oil-producing Abyei region.

The Security Council had not planned to meet Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who is under International Criminal Court indictment for war crimes in Darfur.

The council responded to the canceled meetings with a statement read to journalists by the current council president, French Ambassador Gerard Araud. "I should emphasize that it’s very rare that the Security Council expresses itself this way, out of New York.  The members of the Security Council are gravely concerned about the rapidly deteriorating situation in Abyei," he said.

Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin called the canceled meetings a missed chance to seek a diplomatic solution on a potentially explosive issue. "We regret that an important opportunity was missed for the Sudanese government to express its concerns to the international community through the members of the Security Council," he said.

As the Security Council’s plane touched down Saturday night for the first leg of the visit, news was coming in that government forces had captured Abyei’s main town after several hours of bombing and shelling.  The town’s 20,000 residents were reported to have fled as the troops moved in.

Sunday's Security Council statement condemned what it called “the escalatory military operations being conducted by the Sudanese Armed Forces,” and it warned against any attempt to manipulate “events on the ground” for political gain.

Ambassador Churkin lamented that the situation in Abyei had forced cancelation of a scheduled Security Council visit to the disputed region. "As we were heading toward Khartoum we were confronted with a situation of aggravated tension in the Abyei area.  In fact, we were supposed to go to the Abyei area, but that trip had to be canceled.  Under those circumstances, we decided that the members of the Security Council needed to respond to the situation," he said.

Churkin emphasized the council’s determination not to allow anything to stand in the way of the Southern Sudanese people's desire for a July 9 independence day. "I think there is a certain misunderstanding that something may happen which might derail the independence of Southern Sudan.  This is not the case at all.  Whatever happens, come July 9, the republic of Southern Sudan is going to become independent on that day," he said.

U.N. officials Sunday said the town of Abyei remains under control of government troops, although southern forces were reported massing in the area.  U.N. Mission in Sudan Spokesman Hua Jiang said U.N. peacekeepers in the town were confined to their compound because of security concerns, but had observed looting and fires in the area.

A mid-level Sudanese official who did meet the Security Council ambassadors blamed the south for provoking the military action in Abyei by shooting at a U.N.-escorted government convoy last week.  He suggested that the U.N. Mission in Sudan should, in his words, “pack their bags and wait for July 9”, a reference to the date the peacekeeping operation’s mandate expires.  

The Security Council continues its Sudan mission on Monday with a visit to the southern capital, Juba.  The schedule calls for a meeting with the South’s president, Salva Kiir.

You May Like

Republican Majority in Congress Off to Rough Start

Standoff over Homeland Security funding exposes philosophical, tactical problems within party More

Pakistan Blocks Baloch Activist from US Trip

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan slams Islamabad officials for stopping people from leaving country to attend human rights conference More

Video Muslims Long Thrived in North Carolina Before Students Killed

Idyll shattered February 10, when three Muslim university students living in Chapel Hill were gunned down by a neighbor 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.
Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Studentsi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
March 05, 2015 9:04 PM
The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Students

The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

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