Analysis: Abyei referendum is necessary and timely saviour
It is over 17 years since the Comprehensive Peace Agreement was signed between South Sudan and Sudan, a document which led to South Sudan’s referendum in 2010 and subsequently led to its independence on July 9, 2011.
However, the Abyei Protocol in the CPA has not been implemented to date.
The agreement signed on the status of Abyei on May 26, 2004, states that the status of Abyei would be determined in a referendum for them to decide whether to remain in Sudan or be part of South Sudan.
“The residents of Abyei shall cast a separate ballot. The proposition voted on in the separate ballot shall present residents of Abyei with the following choices; irrespective of the results of the southern referendum: that Abyei retains its special administrative status in the north; (or) that Abyei be part of Bahr el Ghazal, “reads the document.
“End of Interim Period Simultaneously with the referendum for southern Sudan, the residents of Abyei will cast a separate ballot. The proposition voted on in the separate ballot will present the residents of Abyei with the following choices, irrespective of the results of the southern referendum.”
The border of January 1, 1956, will not be altered until the people of Abyei make their decision to be either in Sudan or South Sudan. It is only in this way that the border of, for example, South Sudan will extend towards Sudan or when they decide to join Sudan, the map of South Sudan remains the same as the border remains unaltered.
“The January 1, 1956 line between north and south shall be inviolate, except as agreed above.” The document continued: “Upon signing the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, the Presidency shall, as a matter of urgency, start a peace and reconciliation process for Abyei that shall work for harmony and peaceful co-existence in the Area.”
But since South Sudan seceded from Sudan, the people of Abyei have been facing several challenges of attacks by the armed Arabs of Misseriya with whom they share the border and intermarry.
On Monday, the chiefs of Twic County and the chiefs of Abyei Special Administrative Area signed a peace deal to end the deadlock between the two communities over the ownership of a border town called Anet.
But the Misseriya issue remains unresolved till the final status of Abyei is determined through a referendum. Many people have expressed concern that the insecurity in Abyei is mainly caused by the delay in determining the status of the Abyei people of Abyei.
Push for final status
Yesterday, the author of Sudan: Understanding the oil-rich region of Abyei, Akol Miyen Kuol, posted on his Twitter, ”[I] met with the Chairman of the National Electoral Commission, Prof. Abednego Akok Kacuol, and discussed the status of Abyei.”
Although Akol did not disclose the extent of their discussion, last week, during the Miraya FM Breakfast Show, he said the status of Abyei was urgent and should not wait anymore.
“There is temporary progress in bringing peace in the region, but the real progress will come when the Republic of South Sudan and the Republic of Sudan, embark on the final status of the Abyei region,” he said.
“This issue of the final status of the Abyei region needs to be solved once and for all, and it doesn’t need more waiting, it is an urgent issue which should be settled right now, not tomorrow.”
He cited that the major concerns were continued attacks by militia from Warrap State south of Abyei and a similar confrontation from the Misseriya Arabs from Sudan.
“The main concern is the way these militia groups come from Warrap State and attack the south of the Abyei region.” And then the Misseriya Arabs coming from the north,” he stated.
He appealed to the governments of South Sudan and Sudan to allow the people of Abyei to vote so that their final status could be determined, whether Sudan or South Sudan.
“If the leadership in this country and the leadership in Sudan are not paying attention, it could turn into genocide, to depopulate the Abyei region of the Ngok Dinka, the owners of the land. So, the leadership in the two countries needs to address this issue urgently and settle the final status of Abyei once and for all, “he added.
Also, on Monday, the senior politicians and scholars, Bona Malwal Madut and Francis Mading Deng released a joint statement calling on the governments of Sudan and South Sudan to speed up the resolution of the final status of Abyei after they met the vice president for Gender and Youth Cluster, Rebecca Nyandeng de Mabior.
“We call on the government of South Sudan to actively and promptly engage the government of Sudan to expedite the resolution of the final status of Abyei in accordance with the aspirations of the Ngok Dinka of Abyei,” the statement read.
“We believe these recent events should not undermine hundreds of years of peaceful coexistence, intermarriages, and shared cultural values between Ngok and Twic Dinka.
In 2013, the people of Abyei voted 99.9 percent in favour of seceding from Sudan and joining South Sudan in a community-based organised referendum.However, the Misseriya tribe of Sudan rioted against the vote, calling it illegal and unacceptable.
The government of Sudan and the international community also overlooked the vote because it was locally organised.
Since then, many innocent people have lost lives in attacks, including the paramount chief, Deng Kuol Deng, in May 2013, after an attack by the Misseriya militia.