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Oil-Rich Abyei Part of North, Says Sudan Ruling Party Official

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir delivers a speech during his swearing-in ceremony at the parliament in Khartoum, 27 May 2010

A prominent member of Sudan’s governing National Congress Party (NCP) said it seems officials of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) are only interested in “the richness of the oil” in the disputed Abyei region.

Professor Ibrahim Ghandour, secretary for political affairs of the NCP said his party has documentary evidence that proves that the oil-rich but disputed Abyei region is part of the north.

“Unfortunately, our partners, brothers and sisters in SPLM see Abyei only as an oil rich area and they don’t see the human face of the conflict. (But), we in NCP look at the interest of the communities they (include) the Misseriya and the Ngog,” he said.

His comments came after SPLM’s general secretary, Pagan Amum called on President Omar Hassan Al-Bashir to in his words transfer the disputed Abyei region to the south by presidential decree.

Amum was quoted as urging President Bashir to “take a decision and transfer Abyei by presidential decree to the south, because the process of Abyei referendum has been delayed and there is no time… that is what I see as the future of Abyei… Let us discuss Abyei together with border demarcation, with accepting the results of the referendum, and with the relationship between the south and the north after the referendum.”

Professor Ghandour rejected assertions that the disputed region should be part of the south ahead of the 9th January referendum.

“Pagan Amum knows that historically, Abyei is a Meseriya area to which the Dinka moved from south of what is called the Arab sea… and Abyei lies to the north of that… the Dinka Ngog moved there and they lived with the Meseriya in one community.”

As part of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), both residents of Abyei as well as the south were scheduled to hold concurrent referenda on 9th January.

But, observers say it looks unlikely that the referendum in Abyei will proceed as originally scheduled.

NCP official Professor Ghandour said historically, the oil-rich Abyei is part of the north.

“What we are saying is that in order to ensure peace between south and north in case of secession or unity and in order to ensure the continuity of peace within Abyei, the interest of the groups there particularly, Misseriya and the Dinka Ngog (must be addressed).”