Former rebels of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) say they are unwilling to engage President Omar al-Bashir’s national army in another war despite reported provocations over the oil-rich Abyei region. This comes after Sudan’s Vice President Salva Kirr urged President Bashir to order a pull back of his military from the Abyei area, saying that the SPLM is not going to engage in another protracted war. The former rebels say they are displeased with the Bashir government’s troop reinforcement in the disputed oil town of Abyei.
Some political analysts say tensions in the Abyei region could potentially undermine the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), which effectively ended the over two-decade war between the north and the south. Riek Marchar is the Vice President Of South Sudan. He tells reporter Peter Clottey from Sudan’s capital, Khartoum that the former rebels want peace in the oil-rich Abyei region.
“We are trying to sort out the problems in Abyei. There is a committee, which is composed of the two parties the two partners the National Congress and the SPLM. This committee is co-chaired by Vice President Alos Mann and myself. We have been working for the last eight days to solve the problem in Abyei. Not only the problem of fighting, but also the implementation of the Abyei protocol. So, we are still continuing this work in Khartoum, and this would involve withdrawal of forces from the Abyei area,” Marchar pointed out.
He said the bone of contention in the Abyei region is the failure by President Bashir’s ruling National Congress party to implement the Abyei Protocol.
“Abyei has been a ceasefire zone; there is a protocol called the Abyei Protocol, which ash not been implemented. And Abyei borderers were determined by an Abyei border commission with an international expert work. The National Congress has not implemented the Abyei protocol and the ABC report. So, all these times we have been trying to persuade our partner the National Congress to implement it, this is where the differences arise,” he said.
Marchar said the former rebels are requesting support from the United States government to help resolve the ongoing tensions in the Abyei region.
“We have asked the U.S government through the special envoy of President Bush, Mr. Richard Williamson to assist the two parties to arrive at an agreement for implementing the Abyei Protocol and the ABC report,” Marchar noted.
He said the refusal of the ruling National Congress party to fully implement the Abyei Protocol could be attributed to the abundance of oil in the region.
“I believe that the Abyei Protocol is the main problem currently, and the complication is in oil. And we are trying to resolve this issue,” he said.
Marchar said the former rebels are not ready to engage in any protracted war.
“We were not for a war; we are for peaceful resolution of the conflict. So, we want to resolve the problem peacefully,” Marchar, pointed out.