Officials in Sudan say a joint north-south military force will begin
deploying to the disputed oil-rich region of Abyei on Monday.
commander of the new force, Valentino Tokmac, says the force will have
equal numbers of troops from the Sudanese army and from the southern
former rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army. He said the force will
number more than 600 troops.
Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir
and southern leader Salva Kiir agreed last week to replace northern and
southern troops in the town with a new integrated unit.
two also agreed to seek international arbitration to settle the dispute
over Abyei and to give the United Nations free access to the area for
the first time.
Clashes between forces of the northern-based
government and the semi-autonomous south virtually destroyed Abyei last
month and displaced tens of thousands of residents.
have warned the dispute over Abyei could jeopardize the 2005 peace
agreement that ended Sudan's long-running north-south civil war. The
north and south also remain split over wealth-and power-sharing issues,
and the continued presence of northern troops in the south.
Southern Sudan is scheduled to hold a referendum in 2011 over whether to secede from the rest of the country.
Some information for this report provided by Reuters and AFP.