Sudanese army controls Abyei following heavy fighting

13:46, May 22, 2011      

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The Sudanese army has managed to control the Abyei area on the border between northern and southern Sudan following fierce frighting with the former rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) since Friday, the state-run Sudanese Television reported on Saturday evening.

"The Sudanese army has managed to impose full control over Abyei city after fierce battles with the enemy and repulsed them out of the city," the TV reported.

"The army destroyed two tanks and arrested two of the enemy soldiers. The army is still combing the area and pursuing the remnants of the enemy who fled the city," the report said.

In the meantime, Rabie Abdel-Atti, a leading member of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP), told Xinhua that "Abyei belongs to north Sudan and matters had to be put back to their normal course."

"It is important that Abyei is under the control of the central government and free of any forces whose presence may constitute a violation for the Abyei protocol," he added.

He went on saying that "it is the duty of the government to impose its control over Abyei and provide protection for its population. This is the duty of the government and this is what is happening now. Until a referendum is conducted in Abyei to decide its affiliation, it will remain part of north Sudan and under the control of the government."

Meanwhile, Abdel-Atti accused the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) of violating the Comprehensive Peace Agreement ( CPA) when it ambushed a convoy of the Sudanese army, the incident which inflamed the current tensions in Abyei.

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on Saturday issued a republican decree dissolving the Abyei administration and relieving its chief administrator and his deputy together with the chairmen of the area's five administrations, which indicated cancellation of the Abyei protocol agreed upon by the Sudanese peace partners.

Tensions mounted in Abyei after a convoy of Sudanese army and UN peacekeepers was attacked in the area Friday morning, which resulted in the death of 22 Sudanese army soldiers.

Violence has aggravated in Abyei since the south Sudan referendum on Jan. 9 which resulted in the separation of south Sudan.

A referendum on Abyei was supposed to be held simultaneously, but was postponed due to differences between the NCP and the SPLM over who has the right to vote in the referendum. The NCP said the Mesiria tribe has the right to vote, while the SPLM insisted that only the Dinka Nkok tribe has that right.

Source: Xinhua
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