Sudan's NCP, SPLM agree to form joint committee to settle Abyei crisis

08:07, May 31, 2011      

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The two Sudanese government partners, the National Congress Party (NCP) and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), on Monday agreed to form a joint committee to find a settlement for the crisis of the country's Abyei area.

Vice-President of south Sudan government Riek Machar and Sudanese Vice-President Ali Osman Mohamed Taha on Monday held closed-door talks that focused on the recent tension in Abyei.

"The two sides have agreed to form a joint committee to find solution to the Abyei crisis and reach a satisfactory settlement for all parties," said Machar at a press conference here Monday.

"During the meeting we have reiterated the SPLM position calling for withdrawal of the Sudanese army from Abyei. We have reiterated our commitment not to return to war and demanded that the UN peacekeepers remain in Abyei and the popular consultation areas in Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains," he added.

In the meantime, Machar disclosed that the SPLM has agreed that the UN troops would stay in south Sudan after official separation of the region in July 9.

He stressed that the Abyei issue was "political" that could not be resolved militarily, saying that "there is need for a political will and we have that will. We do not want to return to war again. "

He further criticized the Sudanese army's appointment of a military governor for Abyei, saying that "this move is a violation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), the Abyei protocol and Kadogli agreement."

The Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) earlier said it appointed a military governor for Abyei after it controlled the area on May 20.

On Saturday the SAF announced that it had ended its military operations in Abyei and urged the citizens to return to their homes in the town.

The SAF has taken control of Abyei in response to an attack by the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) against a SAF convoy which resulted in the deaths of 22 soldiers.

The Abyei events prompted concerns over possibility that north and south Sudan would return to war again just a little more than one month before south Sudan would officially be declared independent on July 9.

A referendum on Abyei was supposed to be held on Jan. 9, 2011, coincident with the south Sudan referendum, but it was postponed in the wake of a difference between the NCP and Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) over who has the right to vote in the referendum.

Source: Xinhua
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