May 26, 2008 (ST)
Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP) and Sudan People Liberation Movement agreed to pull pack their forces in the oil rich region of Abyei.
The daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat quoted Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS) vice president Riek Machar as saying that both sides “agreed to end the military escalation in Abyei”.
Machar was speaking to reporters following his meeting with 2nd Vice president Ali Osman Taha to discuss ways to resolve the crisis.
The Southern official also said he made a number of proposals and said that the meeting concluded that the Abyei protocol should be implemented and creating a new joint administrative body in the region.
The border area between North and South Sudan witnessed the most violent clashes last week between Sudanese army and SPLA that left at least 22 people killed and scores injured.
Aid workers, U.N. and Sudanese officials have described the town as devastated, with the market area burned to the ground and the majority of its population displaced.
The sticky issue of Abyei was left undetermined in the Comprehensive Agreement (CPA) signed between the North and South in 2005.
However under a protocol which was part of the CPA, a commission known as the Abyei Boundaries Commission (ABC) was to “define and demarcate the area of the nine Ngok Dinka Chiefdoms transferred to Kordofan in 1905, referred to herein as Abyei Area”.
However the president Omar Hassan Al-Bashir said that the NCP is committed to the Abyei Protocol only with the border of 1905. He further said the government is not concerned with the ABC report and that the latter is of no value to them.
Machar revealed that he agreed with Taha on activating joint commission in charge of the Unity state and Southern Kordofan.
Earlier today the SPLM Secretary General Pagan Amum cautioned that Sudan is "on the brink" of a new civil war and accused the Sudanese army of massing troops around Abyei.
"I’m sure this will get a response from the SPLA. The only logical common sense is to demilitarize the area, deploy U.N. forces into the area, then after that we can proceed to deploy fresh joint integrated forces into the area" he said.
SPLA deployed its units in Eastern Sudan troops to the area and Sudanese army deployed troops from southern Sudan.
According to the CPA the UNAMIS had to be deployed but the two parties have so far rejected that.
The SPLM signed a peace deal in January 2005 with the government of the National Congress Party in January 2005 ending two decades of civil war in Southern Sudan. The peace deal made the SPLM, the ruling party in the south and the NCP the ruling party in the north.
In 2011, southerners will be asked to vote in a referendum on whether they want to be independent or remain part of Sudan. In the same year Abyei will hold a separate referendum on whether to retain its special administrative status in the north or join the south.
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