Sudan’s peace parties agree to ask international arbitration over Abyei

June 4, 2008 (ST)

The visiting Security Council delegation announced that the Sudanese peace partners decided to resort to international arbitration to determine the fate of the disputed Abyei area.

Head of Security Council delegation and South Africa Ambassador at the international body told reporters following a several hours meeting with the national unity government delegation that the National Congress Party (NCP) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) have agreed to request international arbitration to define the border of the contested Abyei.

"They have recognized that the issue of Abyei came up because they haven’t agreed on the question of Abyei’s border, and they decided that they will ask an international body to arbitrate this issue," Dumisani Kumalo said in a press conference on Wednesday.

Since last year the two peace partners had agreed to settle their difference on Abyei through political agreement ruling out three other options including call on the ABC experts to defend their recommendations, to refer the matter to the Constitutional Court, or to seek arbitration by a third party.

Last year Pagan Amum told Sudan Tribune "The arbitrators would be the Americans because they are the ones who brought forward the proposal of the Abyei protocol that became the basis of the agreement."

However yesterday the US envoy to Sudan William Richardson criticised the NCP and the SPLM position over Abyei and announced the suspension of talks on normalisation of bilateral relations.

"Until they want a meaningful peace, there is nothing the United States or others can do. I’ve tried my best and I leave sad and disappointed," he said following days of talks on how to resolve a crisis in Sudan’s Abyei district.

Also, last November, the SPLM rejected a US proposal to form an international commission to mediate over Abyei with the participation of Saudi Arabia and China. The proposal was among a set of “confidence-building measures” proposed by the Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, to SPLM leader Salva Kiir during his visit to Washington.

According to the CPA, the parties charged a commission of five members of each party with five independent international experts to define the border of Abyei. The NCP and the SPLM had failed to demarcate during Nivasha talks the border of the area. The mandate of the Abyei Boundary Commission (ABC) was to define and demarcate the territory of the Ngok Dinka as it was when transferred from the South to the North in 1905.

The northern Sudan ruling party rejects the ABC report because it attributes a territory northern to Bahr al-Arab (Kiir river) to the Ngok Dinka.

The rejection of the ABC conclusions by the NCP delayed the formation of Abyei administration and the whole implementation of the protocol.


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