Sudanese concerned about Abyei issue's impact on peace agreement

10:26, April 13, 2011      

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Deep concerns are prevailing among Sudanese that the disputes over the country's oil-rich area of Abyei may lead to a collapse of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), which is about to be completed by the official announcement of south Sudan's separation in July.

Monday's negotiations in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, between Sudan's ruling National Congress Party (NCP) and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), which are brokered by the African Union, failed to achieve a breakthrough regarding Abyei issue.

"The two partners are supposed to reach a political settlement on Abyei before the coming July 9, but this matter seems still pending," Sudanese political analyst Abdel-Rahman Awad told Xinhua.

"There are real fears that the dispute over Abyei would lead to tensions between north and south Sudan after the official announcement of south Sudan's separation. The conflict will then be between two states. This is where the danger lies," Awad said.

Awad believed that the NCP and the SPLM have not made enough concessions to resolve the Abyei issue. "There are many solutions suggested by the African mediator Thabo Mbeki, but the two parties did not agree on any of those solutions," he said.

Thabo Mbeki, chairman of the African Union High Panel on Sudan, has provided a package of suggestions, including affiliating Abyei to south Sudan with a presidential decision, granting the Mesiria tribe political and pastoral rights, and enabling them to participate in the area's authority. He also proposed the Mesiria be represented by one-third of the Abyei administration and be given a province in the area together with flexible borders without tough restrictions.

Mbeki's proposals also included giving the Mesiria a double nationality after the southerners opted for separation, dividing Abyei between north and south Sudan, as well as returning to the Abyei protocol and conducting a referendum according to the protocol and a Hague court's decision.

With July 9, the end of the transitional period, approaching, the international community and mediators seemed in a hurry to resolve the issue, and warnings increased against a failure to resolve the issue with the mounting tension at the area.

However, the NCP leading member Rabie Abdel-Atti downplayed the concerns over Abyei and seemed confident over the two sides' ability and willingness to reach a political settlement for the issue.

"The Abyei issue cannot be a reason to disturb the path of the CPA. No room but for the consensus between the NCP and the SPLM on a satisfactory settlement for all parties before the end of the transitional period," Abdel-Atti told Xinhua.

"We are working to reach a satisfactory solution that preserves the stability at the area and safeguards the rights of the Abyei citizens away from tribal trends. We see that adhering to tough stances would be a deduction from any of the Abyei items in the CPA," he added.

The Abyei issue constitutes one of the major barriers before the implementation of the CPA, inked between north and south Sudan in 2005.

The Abyei area is dwelled by the southern Sudanese tribe of Dinka Nkok, while the northern Sudanese Arab tribe of Mesiria depends on the area during the summer season as they head south in search for water and pastures.

The NCP insists that the Mesiria has the right to vote on the area's future, while the SPLM says the Mesiria tribe could not be considered as citizens of the area because these nomadic herdsmen stay for only a few months in the area each year to secure pastures for their cattle.

Two-thirds of Sudan's oil is produced in Abyei and the country' s longest oil pipeline starts from the area.

Source: Xinhua
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