April 1, 2008 (ST)
The Sudanese Presidency discussed in a meeting held on Tuesday evening the establishment of a joint administration in the disputed Abyei.
The meeting, which held at the Guest House in Khartoum, was chaired by President Omer Al-Bashir and attended by First Vice-President Salva Kiir Mayardit who was long time absent from the capital and Vice-President Ali Osman Mohamed Taha.
Mahjoub Fadl Badri, press secretary to the President of the Republic, said that the meeting discussed the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. Adding that the parties also deliberated the current situation in Abyei and their understanding to establish an interim administration till a final solution is reached between the two peace partners.
The National Congress Party (NCP) rejected on March 30 the appointment of Edward Lino as SPLM administrator of Abyei. It demanded the removal of his administration as well as the redeployment of the SLPA to 1956 north-south border.
The NCP said SPLM unilateral administration transgresses the authority of the presidency which owns alone the decision to appoint the administration of Abyei under the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and the Interim National Constitution.
In June 2007, the SPLM had rejected the NCP proposal to set up a six-month interim administration for Abyei, saying such proposal would only prolong the crisis. Nonetheless the two parties agreed that Abyei administration should be based on SPLM-NC partnership.
The NCP responsible of Abyei file, Al-Dirdiri Mohamed Ahmad, told the pro-NCP, SMC, that they received assurance from the First Vice-President and the SPLM Secretary General that they didn’t support the step made by Edward Lino. But he said that the SPLM should make an official statement to support this position.
Al-Dirdiri further stressed that the NC was no longer committed to any joint effort or negotiation over implementing the Abyei Protocol until the SPLM officially declares the dissolution of the SPLM administration.
Abyei lies just north of the boundary line between north and south Sudan set by Sudan’s British colonial rulers in the early 20th century. But the line is disputed, and the SPLM wants the area incorporated into their autonomous zone, created by the 2005 peace agreement.
The dispute has already shaken the peace deal once. Last October, southern cabinet ministers walked out of the unity government over a number of disputes, including Abyei — raising fears the peace could collapse.
In December 2007, the Sudanese presidency has decided to settle by itself the row over the oil rich region of Abyei while the other pending issues in the implementation of the 2005 peace agreement are referred to other committees.
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