Sudan brushes aside UNSC demand for Abyei withdrawal

4 June, 2011 (Sudan Tribune)

The Sudanese government today rejected the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) presidential statement issued on Friday which called on the North to withdraw its forces from Abyei.

The Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) moved on to seize the oil rich region last month in retaliation to an attack on one of its convoys by Southern forces near the area.

Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir immediately issued a decree dissolving the area’s administrative council without consulting with his First Vice president Salva Kiir who is also the president of South Sudan government.

The UNSC yesterday condemned the takeover and demanded pullout of all SAF units from the area.

"The Council demands that the Government of Sudan withdraw immediately from the Abyei Area. The Council further demands the immediate withdrawal of all military elements from Abyei" said a unanimous formal UNSC statement read out to a meeting of the 15-nation body by Gabon Ambassador Nelson Messone, this month’s president.

The seizure of Abyei by SAF was called a "serious violation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement" signed in 2005 between the North and South.

"The Council underscores that failure by the Government of Sudan to comply with and to fulfill the CPA jeopardizes the benefits that could flow from such compliance".

The Sudanese foreign minister Ali Karti described UNSC statement as "confabulations" saying that whoever drafted it "is living with a mentality of the past".

"We do not need anyone asking us to withdraw from Abyei" Karti told reporters today.

He stressed that SAF was compelled to enter to address the security situation.

"Talking about a withdrawal is acceptable only in the context of an agreement on arrangements to secure the area and to allow all [residents] to live as before, that does not prevent a party from living in an area where he lived for hundreds of years" Karti added.

The top Sudanese diplomat called on the UNSC to support the work of the African Union (AU) panel mediating between the North and South that is headed by former South African president Thabo Mbeki.

Another official in the ruling National Congress party (NCP) headed by Bashir told Reuters that the dispute would be resolved only through north-south negotiations, not pressure from the UNSC.

"This arrangement by government forces is a temporary arrangement. The only solution for the two parties is to find a solution different from referendum or to conduct the referendum," said Rabie Abdel-Aati a senior member of the NCP.

"I don’t see any justification for the United Nations Security Council to be involved" he said.

A referendum on whether it should be part of the north or south was marred by disputes over who should be allowed to vote. The region is used all year by Dinka Ngok people linked to the south and part of the year by northern Arab Misseriya nomads.

The UNSC also expressed concern over the sudden influx of Arab Misseriya saying it condemns "all unilateral actions meant to create facts on the ground that would prejudice the outcome of negotiations,".

A monitoring group known as Satellite Sentinel said satellite images showed "evidence of attacks by armored vehicles and the destruction of villages". It estimated that one-third of civilian buildings in the town were burned by SAF. The United Nations estimates that around 60,000 have been displaced as a result of the military offensive. Images released showed burning huts and ongoing looting.


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