CEPO hails planned dialogue to fix Abyei border clashes

CEPO hails planned dialogue to fix Abyei border clashes
CEPO’s Edmund Yakani in a recent press conference. [File photo]

The Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO) has welcomed the planned peace conference between Ngok Dinka and Misseriya set to be held in neighbouring Uganda. 

The talks, scheduled between May 16 and 19 2022, are aimed at finding an amicable solution to the dragging dispute between the two warring communities that have not only claimed lives but displaced thousands, particularly in the oil-rich Abyei region. 

According to media reports, the conference has been organised by the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) and would be attended by the community leaders from both sides, women, and youth representatives. 

“This is a positive move and response to the call for peaceful settlement of the issues on the fate of Abyei status,” CEPO Executive Director Edmund Yakani said.

“Losing human lives and property continuously due to armed violence between Ngok Dinka and Misseriya is an unacceptable act and it should be stopped immediately through dialogue.”

About two weeks ago, more than 40 people were reportedly killed in Abyei by suspected armed Misseriya tribesmen in separate attacks. The violence displaced thousands of inhabitants into bushes and neighbouring communities.

Also, in March, renewed inter-communal clashes left 36 dead and over 50,000 people displaced with thousands of herds of cattle looted in the contested oil-rich Abyei by suspected Sudan’s Western Kordofan nomadic Misseriya community.

Alarm raised

Last week, the US government and UN Undersecretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations raised concerns over the silence of both leaders of Sudan and South Sudan on the status of the disputed Abyei for peace to prevail in the area. 

CEPO said the situation in Abyei was purely a criminal act and could amount to a crime against humanity. He said UNISFA must protect lives, property, and societal cohesion in Abyei.

“The expected Ngok Dinka and Misseriya peace talks in Uganda should be within the legal framework of the Abyei protocol as enshrined in Chapter IV dated May 26th, 2004 in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed in 2005,” Yakani said.

“Any attempt to undermine this legal framework will be an attempt to pass an undemocratic resolution on the status of Abyei. Secondly, the political intention for undermining the facilitation for the implementation of the Abyei Protocol done by both Juba and Khartoum leadership should be part of the issues to be addressed during the Uganda Ngok Dinka and Misseriya Peace Talks,” he warned. 

The Abyei region has long been contested by both Sudan and South Sudan. The independence of South Sudan in 2011 did not improve the already bad situation, punctuated by armed conflicts, the result being the loss of lives and property.

 Abyei is prized by both Sudan and South Sudan for its fertile land and oil reserves. Under the terms of the Abyei Protocol, the Abyei Area was considered on an interim basis to be simultaneously part of both the Republic of South Sudan and the Republic of Sudan, effectively.

Despite the region being under the U.N. administration, it has witnessed frequent clashes between members of the Ng’ok Dinka ethnic group and the Misseriya community, often over access to grazing land and water points.

In 2012, the Ngok ethnic group held a unilateral referendum and voted overwhelmingly to be part of South Sudan, but Juba, Khartoum, and the international community remained silent over the outcome.