A Hague based tribunal is scheduled to
rule Wednesday on Sudan's disputed oil-rich Abyei border region. This comes
after the Khartoum government challenged the Abyei Border Commission's report,
contending that it exceeded its mandate.
tribunal's decision is expected to affect the 2005 Comprehensive Peace
Agreement (CPA), which effectively ended the long civil war between the north
At a recent meeting in Washington, both the government and the Sudan
People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) promised to abide by Wednesday's ruling.
Vice President Mark Schneider of the International Crisis Group told VOA that the decision could test Sudan's stability.
you know, this is a major decision affecting the CPA, affecting stability in
Sudan. And the most recent statements by the government and by the Southern
Sudanese have indicated they will accept the outcome of the tribunal. And the
anticipation is extremely high within the country," Schneider said.
said there are indications that both parties will accept Wednesday's ruling.
hopes that both sides will accept the outcome and will carry out the steps to
implement that outcome in a peaceful and cooperative fashion," he said.
said the ruling could affect the upcoming referendum.
fundamental issue is how the tribunal comes down on the question of the original
border decision with Abyei. And if it confirms the original decision, which
would essentially provide that most of the resources in that area will fall
within southern Sudan, then that makes the upcoming referendum in 2011
extremely important for the future of the country," Schneider said.
said the ruling could also divide the oil wealth of the Abyei region between
the north and the semi-autonomous south.
"The decision could well decide some division of those resources and in a way, that will provide for the sharing of the benefit," he
said a decision by either party refusing to abide by the tribunal's ruling
would be regrettable.
will be particularly unfortunate for either side to first reject the findings
of the tribunal. They both agreed on this independent international
arbitration. And most recently here in Washington, they both reaffirmed that
they will accept the outcome. And it would be a tragedy for the country if that
were not to be the case," Schneider said.
said there country's peace would not be disturbed if both parties accept the
outcome of the ruling.
only way forward in a peaceful fashion is in fact for the tribunal's decision
to be respected and to be implemented in a rational and objective fashion," he
note the row over the Abyei region became a major
flashpoint in the first and second north-south civil war, when the dispute was
exacerbated by the discovery of oil.
The sensitivity of the Abyei
issue was acknowledged in a special 2005 protocol to the CPA. It stipulated
that in five years, when southern Sudan votes on whether to become independent,
the residents of Abyei will be able to choose whether they wish to become part
of the south or remain in the north. That referendum has been pushed back to March of 2011.