News / Africa

UN Security Council Cancels Visit to Sudan’s Abyei Region, Citing Violence

United States ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice arrives at Khartoum airport on May 21, 2011, as part of an UN Security Council delegation.
United States ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice arrives at Khartoum airport on May 21, 2011, as part of an UN Security Council delegation.

The United Nations Security Council has cancelled a visit to Sudan’s disputed Abyei region after government forces launched an offensive, capturing a main town.  

UN officers briefing diplomats and journalists Saturday said northern Sudanese forces had taken control of the town of Abyei after a day of heavy shelling. Spokeswoman Hua Jiang said staff at the UN compound had taken shelter in bunkers at the height of the attack, but that shelling had died down by evening.

A Security Council ambassador said the incident appears to be timed to discourage the Council from a visit to Abyei scheduled for Monday. The trip has been cancelled.

The visiting delegation is planning to raise the issue during meetings with senior officials Khartoum, including Vice-President Ali Osman Taha. They will Monday travel to the southern Sudanese capital, Juba where they will hold talks with President Salva Kiir.

The Security Council delegation flew to Khartoum late Saturday after a day-long debate at African Union headquarters, mainly covering conflicts in Sudan and Libya. A senior Council ambassador described the six-hour closed-door session as tense.

Diplomats attending the meeting say the UN delegation was forced onto the defensive by African representatives angry at implementation of the Security Council resolution authorizing NATO air strikes IN LIBYA. African ambassadors were said to have criticized the Security Council’s contention that the purpose of the NATO action was the protection of civilians.

Briefing reporters after the meeting, AU Peace and Security Commissioner Ramtane Lamamra said civilians might have been better protected by a proposed African solution calling for a ceasefire and a negotiated settlement brokered by a panel of AU heads of state. "Protecting civilians is certainly a shared concern. We believe the ad hoc committee of the heads of state has a comparative advantage on this issue," he said.

The  Khartoum government and its autonomous southern region have been unable to agree on which side should control the oil-rich Abyei region as the south prepares to secede on July 9.

Northern and Southern armies had earlier agreed to conduct joint patrols in Abyei. But fighting erupted in the region Thursday, when a northern army convoy accompanied by U.N. peacekeepers came under attack. Each side accused the other of firing first.

Lamamra said while the UN Charter clearly gives the Security Council authority to act in cases such as Libya, as it did earlier in Sudan’s Darfur region, organizations like the African Union are better placed to settle regional conflicts. "According to the UN Charter there is primacy of the UN Security Council, but in the real world of ours you need to seek the guidance of the regional organization, which by virtue of culture, history, geographic proximity, is better prepared to make headway," he said.

A communiqué issued after the meeting glossed over the deep divisions between the two bodies evident during the closed-door session. The communiqué expressed deep concern over the continuation of violence in Libya. It expressed similar concern over the increasing troubles in Abyei.

Despite the behind-closed-doors wrangling, diplomats say the relationship between the two security bodies has grown stronger in the three years since they began annual joint meetings. This year the final communiqué dealt with substantive issues such as Libya and Sudan, rather than the brief general statements made after previous meetings.

But hopes by African diplomats for more equal footing with the UN body seem distant.  When asked if the two Councils might be inching closer to a greater equality, a senior Security Council diplomat answered with a single word. No.

You May Like

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Ends Ebola Lockdown

Health ministry says it has reached 75 percent of its target of visiting 1.5 million homes to locate infected, educate population about virus More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As tumult in Middle East distracts Obama administration, efforts to shift American focus eastward appear threatened 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.
Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Towni
X
Deborah Block
September 21, 2014 2:12 PM
A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Alibaba Shares Soar in First Day of Trading

China's biggest online retailer hit the market Friday -- with its share price soaring on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares were priced at $68, but trading stalled at the opening, as sellers held onto their shares, waiting for buyers to bid up the price. More on the world's biggest initial public offering from VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid