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SPLM Official Dismisses Sudan VP Taha’s Pronouncement

  • Peter Clottey

A Sudanese opposition supporter shouts slogans as protesters wave the flag of Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) during a demonstration against the government in Khartoum, 07 Dec 2009

The spokesman for the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) has dismissed as a mere publicity stunt remarks by Sudan’s Second Vice President Ali Osman Taha that the oil-rich Abyei referendum can only be held if his National Congress Party (NCP) reaches a political agreement with the SPLM.

Yien Matthew Chol said Mr. Taha’s statement underscores the unwillingness of the NCP leadership to commit to the full implementation of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).

“Saying that the referendum of Abyei can never be held unless an agreement is reached as regards to the borders is not found anywhere in the agreement (CPA). We believe in the SPLM that we are just partners directed by the CPA and unless there is something that is stateed and supports what Taha is saying otherwise, we wouldn’t find any reason why we should listen to such a statement.”

At a news briefing Monday, Vice President Taha stated that both partners need to settle outstanding issues before residents in Abyei could participate in a referendum, which is scheduled to run concurrently with south Sudan’s 9th January referendum.

Mr. Taha was quoted as saying the “Abyei referendum cannot be conducted unless an agreement is reached on the outstanding issues in a way that satisfies the two tribes of Miseria and Dinka Ngok, and we hope that the talks between the two sides would come out with a satisfactory agreement.”

He also called on the SPLM to stop boycotting the border demarcation meetings so that the file would be concluded.”

Officials of both the SPLM and the NCP are currently holding talks in Ethiopia about resolving outstanding, issues including border demarcation as well as the participation of the Miseria ethnic group are believed to be derailing efforts to form the much-anticipated Abyei referendum.

Analysts say disagreements between the SPLM and the NCP have stalled any attempts at forming the Abyei referendum commission that is expected to organize the vote for residents in the region. The oil-rich Abyei region borders the north and south of Sudan.

SPLM spokesman Chol said Mr. Taha’s statement sharply contradicts stipulations in the CPA.

“This is the nature of the NCP generally. They sometimes make statements when people are negotiating for tactical reasons and for other political purposes that might be better understood to them. But, the SPLM is very clear that we can never allow a reopening of the agreement. Therefore, we will not even allow the discussion to reopen that.”