Sunday, November 13, 2011

Security Council Urges Swift Withdrawal of North and South Sudan Armies From Abyei

UN Security Council urges swift withdrawal of N. & S. Sudan armies from Abyei

November 4, 2011

(NEW YORK) — United Nations Security Council urged Sudan and South Sudan to redeploy their respective troops from the disputed Abyei area stressing that this withdrawal is not linked to any pre-existing condition.

UN peacekeepers patrol in Abyei following the capture of the disputed area by the Sudanese army last May (photo UN)Hervé Ladsous, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, before his trip to Khartoum and Juba last October briefed twice the Security Council on the situation in Abyei. He regretted that both Sudan and South Sudan maintain their forces despite commitments taken in June September 2011 to withdraw troops.

During the two meetings of 6 and 11 October at the UN Security Council, Sudan’s ambassador, Daffa-Allah Elhaj Ali Osman, raised fears of "security vacuum" in Abyei and said the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) would redeploy after the full deployment of the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) composed mainly of Ethiopian soldiers.

South Sudanese ambassador, David Buom Choat, denied any presence of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army and disputed reports of UN officials. However Ladsous reiterated his statements on 11 October adding that SPLA troops were spotted two days earlier in Agok, south of Abyei town.

In a statement released on Friday, the 15-member body ’deplored the failure’ of the two parties to withdraw their forces from Abyei. The Security Council further emphasised that ’there were no pre-conditions for the implementation of the agreements signed by the parties, including the withdrawal of forces.’

The Council’s members ’underscored that both parties shall implement the (June and September 2011) agreements in spirit and letter, and called upon both parties to redeploy any remaining forces from the Abyei Area immediately and without pre-condition,’ said a statement released by issued today by Council President JosĂ© Filipe Moraes Cabral of Portugal.

Composed of 4200 members to protect civilians and aid workers, the UNISFA has now 2700 Ethiopian soldiers deployed on the ground. The two parties of the 2005 peace agreement asked the UN to deploy this peacekeeping force after the seizure of the disputed region by the Sudanese army last May.

Authorised currently for six months, the Council recently discussed the possible transformation of the force into a peacekeeping mission and to extend its mandate to include the monitoring of the Sudan/South Sudan border.

The Security Council reaffirmed its readiness to ’consider additional mandated tasks for UNISFA in support of the July 30 Agreement on the Border Monitoring Support Mission between the Government of Sudan and the Government of South Sudan,’ said the statement.

The international community believes such role can also allow to contain the movement of rebels groups across the border and prevent the extension of the current conflicts in South Kordofan, Blue Nile and Darfur to the newly independent South Sudan.

The two countries trade regular accusation of supporting rebels from both sides.

The population of the disputed area have to vote in a referendum to determine the future of Abyei: whether it rejoins the Republic of South Sudan or remains in the Sudan. However the parties diverge over who is eligible to participate in this referendum of self-determination.

Presidents Bashir and Salva Kiir agreed earlier last month to finalise talks on Abyei the other outstanding issues. The head of the African Union panel which mediate the talks on the remaining issues submitted recently a series of proposals to the two sides and talks are expected to resume soon in the Ethiopian capital.

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