SPLA Reject Khartoum's Proposal of Rotating Abyei Administration

The South Sudan army says it rejects a proposal by North Sudan’s government to install a rotating administration in the disputed region of Abyei until a self-determination referendum can be held.

Phillip Aguer, the spokesperson of the southern army (SPLA) described the new proposal as a “one-sided” solution to the conflict in the disputed oil-producing region.

Khartoum’s Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) invaded Abyei on May 21, after an alleged armed attack on a convoy by southern fighters near the area. The military intervention triggered international condemnation as it contravenes the 2005 peace deal that ended decades of North-South civil war.

“First all, we all know that SAF illegally occupied Abyei and as a result thousands of southerners have been displaced. Now, how can the same army begin dictating terms yet the issue has not been resolved?” the SPLA spokesperson told Sudan Tribune.

Aguer said that any form of administration that the north establishes in Abyei without consulting their southern counterparts totally contravenes provisions within the Abyei protocol of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement.

Under the CPA, which ended decades of north-south conflict, South Sudan voted to secede from the North and will become independent on July 9. A separate referendum was due to be held at the same time to decide whether Abyei would remain in north, where it was placed by colonial administrators become part of the south.

Talks over the composition of the electoral commission and who was allowed to vote in plebiscite between Khartoum’s governing NCP and the South’s SPLM repeatedly hit the rocks scuppering the vote.

The fertile region was a battle ground during the civil war which killed two million people between 1983 and 2005.

Under the proposals released by the Sudan News Agency (SUNA) the SPLA would be allowed to occupy land south of the Kiir river. The SAF would hold the ground north of the river, which in the north is known as the Bahr al-Arab, until a referendum can be held to end the dispute.

South Sudan’s vice president Riek Machar announced that a joint committee would be set up to resolve the crisis, after he travelled to Khartoum for talks with his counterpart Sudan’s federal vice president Ali Osman Taha on May 27.

Under Khartoum’s latest proposal the administration of Abyei would be transferred to a joint north-south committee the day before the south secedes on July 9. The NCP also proposed that United Nations peacekeepers would replaced by “more effective troops from the African Union.

The mandate of the United Nations Mission in Sudan officially ends on July 9 with the culmination of the peace deal and Khartoum has insisted it will decide whether or not the mandate is extended.