UN Security Council 'deeply concerned' at situation in Sudan's Abyei area

08:40, May 12, 2011      

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The UN Security Council on Wednesday said that it is "deeply concerned" about the current situation in Abyei area in southern Sudan, where more than 80 people were reportedly killed and four UN peacekeepers were shot and wounded.

The Council condemned any action that would violate the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), which ended the two-decade of civil war in the African country.

The Council's stance was contained in a statement read to the press here by Gerard Araud, the French UN ambassador who holds the rotating Security Council presidency for May.

"The members of the Security Council are deeply concerned about the situation in Abyei, and condemn any action by either party to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement that runs counter to President (Omar) Bashir and First Vice President (Salva) Kiir's agreement to resolve the situation peacefully through negotiation and the assistance of the African Union High Level Implementation Panel ( AUHIP)," the statement said.

The CPA, signed in 2005, stipulated that two referendums should take place in on Sudan -- one on the south's sovereignty and another on the status of the oil-rich Abyei region. In January, the referendum on southern sovereignty took place, resulting in a decision to separate the south from north, but the referendum on whether Abyei would be part of north or south Sudan was never held.

Violence and escalation in Abyei should be avoided, the Security Council statement said, and the CPA parties should "work to reduce tensions and swiftly reach an agreement" on its status.

"In this regard, the members of the Security Council welcome the commitments made by Vice President Ali Osman Taha and First Vice President Salva Kiir to AUHIP, that neither party shall include an unconditional claim to Abyei in its draft national constitution," the statement said. "The members of the Security Council urge both parties to honor these commitments, to avoid escalation and to seek a peaceful negotiated solution to the status of Abyei."

The statement also said that the members of the Council " condemn the introduction, by both parties, of armed forces into Abyei in violation of the CPA and the recent violence resulting in fatalities from both sides."

More than 80 villagers and rebels were killed when rebels attacked cattle herders in Abyei on Sunday, and hundreds marched in Juba, capital of South Sudan, to protest the unresolved status of Abyei, reports said on Wednesday.

On May 10, four peacekeepers from the UN Mission in Sudan ( UNMIS) were shot in Sudan while on patrol close to Abyei, an event that the Council condemned in the statement. On May 3, UN officials announced they had discovered 14 bodies in Abyei that may have been victims of recent clashes there.

The United Nations has about 9,000 troops and 700 international police officers to enforce the CPA.

"The Council welcomes the agreement reached on May 8 to immediately implement the Kadugli Agreements and withdraw troops as agreed upon from Abyei and urges both sides to act expeditiously to implement this agreement," the statement said.

The Kadugli Agreements would remove unauthorized forces from the Abyei territory and give security duties to Joint Integrated Units (JIUs).

The statement added that UNMIS should have "full and unhindered access to Abyei in order to carry out its mandate of civilian protection."

Source: Xinhua
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