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

This US Epidemic Keeps Getting Worse

One in 4 Americans suffers from this condition More

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends 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.
Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thoughti
X
George Putic
May 26, 2015 9:26 PM
Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.

VOA Blogs