A cabinet minister in Sudan’s government of National Unity said the National Congress Party has failed to honor its part of a deal concerning Abyei in the Sudan Comprehensive Peace Agreement.
In an interview with VOA’s Sudan in Focus program, Luka Biong Deng, a senior member of Sudan People’s Liberation Movement and Minister of Cabinet Affairs said events happening in the North Africa have turned the attention of the international community away from Abyei at a time when hundreds of people have been killed in attacks by nomadic militia back by the Sudan Government.
Deng said tens of thousands of people have fled Abyei town and its surrounding villages for fear of attacks from gunmen suspected to be from the Messiriya Arab nomads and pro government militia.
‘‘You are talking about hundreds of people who got killed, secondly there are one hundred and fifty thousand people displaced,’’ Deng said. There have been reports of heavily armed gunmen attacking villages north of Abyei town this week and the death toll has reached over one hundred people.
The minister was on a mission to the UN and the United States in a bid to raise awareness about the situation in Abyei, his native region. He said there is a need to refocus attention to Abyei area because the entire population is at risk.
Deng urged the international community rethink its support and praise for the National Congress Party for its behavior during the Southern Sudan Referendum. ‘’The international community should reconsider the good image being created that the leadership of NCP have lived up to their commitments in the Comprehensive Peace agreement,’’ Deng said. He added that the NCP deserves blame for creating conditions in Abyei area that could escalate violence and loss of lives.
The people of Abyei were supposed to take part in a referendum in January this year on whether to remain part of the north or join the south, but were not able to because of disagreements over who is eligible to vote in the referendum exercise. The Abyei referendum commission has not been formed and no specific date has been set for the vote.
The United Nations Mission in Sudan moved in 100 extra peace-keepers into Abyei following the recent attacks. Deng praised the move by the UN, but said the international community needs to do more than that. ‘’ That is why we are saying lifting of sanctions or removing Sudan from the list of Countries supporting terrorism, or normalization of relationship between US and Sudan should not happen,’’ he said. “Rewarding Sudan government has to be pre-conditioned to how the government addresses the Abyei issue.” He added that the Abyei protocol, signed by the Khartoum and the Southern government is the blueprint of the international community’s efforts to resolve the conflict in Abyei region,and must be adhered to.
Deng expressed confidence in the leadership and ability of the Sudan People Liberation Movement and the National Congress Party to address the current situation in Abyei. He said there is still an opportunity to find a lasting solution to the conflict.