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

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month 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.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid