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

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies 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.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid