South Sudan Formally Accepts Abyei Administration

The Sudanese Army marched into Abyei last year

South Sudan said on Sunday it has sent official notification to the African Union High Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) declaring its acceptance of the nomination lists by the Sudanese government based on the June 2011 agreement which calls for the establishment of an interim administration without preconditions.

The letter dated 24 July 2011, which bears the signature of the secretary general of the country’s governing Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), Pagan Amum, recommends eight nominees to various positions required in Abyei.

Luka Biong Deng and Chol Deng Alaak are recommended to take up advisory positions at the Joint Oversight Committee while Deng Arop Kuol, Edward Lino Abyei and Kuol Alor Jok Kuol to the position of chief administrator.

Sudan is expected to choose one of the three nominees to the post of chief administrator, including Deng Arop Kuol and Edward Lino, who have served as chief administrators at different times.

Lino was the first administrator appointed by Juba, without the approval of Khartoum in 2008, while Kuol was appointed in 2010 to replace Arop Mayak Monytoc who replaced Lino.

The list of nominees recommended for heads of departments include Kuol Monyluak Dak, Acuil Akol Miyan and Kon Manyiet Matiok.

Luka Biong Deng, co-chair of the Abyei Oversight Committee said the decision to form a joint interim administration with Sudan was reached after necessary consultation with the local chiefs and SPLM leaders in Abyei on the nominations of the Government of Sudan for positions of the deputy chief administrator and the speaker of the Abyei Area Council.

Biong, in a release dated 10 November, said the international community is expected to reassure the people of Abyei by ensuring the complete withdrawal of the Sudan army (SAF) from the Abyei area, finalisation of the status force agreement (SOFA) and endorsement of full implementation of the AUHIP’s 21 September proposal on the final status on Abyei.

“The formation of joint administration with the Government of Sudan that destroyed and annihilated the lives and livelihood of the Ngok Dinka will not be comprehended easily by the people of Abyei.”

“We are aware of this trauma but we are doing it to seal off delaying tactics by the Government of Sudan. Our strategic objective is the conduct of the referendum. The formation of joint administration is one of the temporary arrangements provided for in the 20 June 2011 agreement,” Biong stressed.

He further said he has informed his Sudanese counterpart of the decision made by the Juba in order to convey the message to Khartoum and to prepare for a meeting on 20 November in Abyei.

The African Union peace and Security Council decided in a meeting held on 24 October to give the parties weeks to read a deal over Abyei issue and to endorse a mediation’s proposal if they fail before too refer it to the UN Security Council.

Sudan said it refuses the decision and warned that it would not implement it. President Omer Al-Abshir said several days ago from Saudi Arabia that Abyei is part of Sudan as defined in January 1956 border. He also said that Abyei referendum is voted by the National Assembly in Khartoum and no one can change it.

Alray Al-Aam daily newspaper reported a delegation of Misseriya tribal leaders will stage a series of contacts with the members of UN Security Council to explain their position over the issue of Abyei, and the recent decision of the AU peace and security Council.

Edward Lino said in a separate interview that they accepted the decision and but quickly pointed out the formation of the joint interim administration “was not the end of the struggle”.

“We need an end to this conflict. The dispute over this area, as you know, has claimed lots of lives and has left people displaced. It created a humanitarian emergency in South Sudan because humanitarian organisations have been denied access to the areas by Khartoum,” he said.

He charged Khartoum with employing the same tactics against civil population in Abyei which they used with such devastating effect in Darfur: indiscriminate aerial bombings, attacks on civilians and a scorched earth policy which will hamper development in the area by decades.

Ngor Ayuel, a deputy Abyei community leader described Juba’s acceptance of the Khartoum’s nominations in their entirety, as a tactical decision to avoid being held hostage in conducting the referendum.

“It’s an interesting mixed decision because there are people who see it differently. There are those opposed to giving Sudan position of the area legislative council speaker to Sudan because for them, they see no rationality about it. But for me, this announcement of concession by our leadership is a big deal. It tells more about the seriousness of our government to finding a lasting solution on the issue of Abyei,” said Ayuel.

Kuol Yak, a native of Abyei in Juba cautioned his community members against celebrating Juba’s acceptance of the Sudanese list of nominees because Sudanese president Omer al-Bashir claims over the area.

“I just read the Sudanese media quoting Bashir in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, claiming that Abyei is part of Sudan and will remain so. He said Sudan is hosting the Ngok Dinka in Abyei, that we were chased by the Nuer from their ancestral area in the South,” said Yak.

He also wondered whether the concession of the position of the speaker for the area legislative council will not allow Sudan to claim the eligibility right to vote in the referendum or disrupt it if denied participation.

“If a Misseriya could be appointed as speaker of the area Legislative Assembly what will prevent them from claiming eligibility to vote? This is a simple way of accepting claims of ownership which Misseriya having been making all on the area. This decision is wrong for me,” he said.