Civil Society group call for demilitarization of Abyei

Civil Society group call for demilitarization of Abyei
Residents of Abyei Special Administrative Area held peaceful demonstrations for demilitarization of Abyei. [Photo: Courtesy]

Abyei residents and civil society organizations yesterday staged a peaceful demonstration in front of the UNISFA premises demanding the demilitarization of Abyei Special Administration Area.

The Information Secretary for Abyei Civil Society Organizations, Mayen Ayuong, told The City Review that they wanted the international community and the UN Security Council to mount pressure on the governments of Sudan and South Sudan to determine the final status of Abyei.

“We urge the international community and the UN Security Council to put pressure on the government of Sudan and South Sudan, to sit down and find a solution instead of creating more conflicts in Abyei.”

According to Mayen, they had forward a formal complaint to UNISFA, warning that peaceful demonstrations would continue until calm returned in the oil-rich area.

Abyei which has abundant oil wells is currently disputed by both the governments of South Sudan and Sudan.

“We are calling for the demilitarization of Abyei. We don’t need any existence of the armed forces. We are calling for the relocation of SSPDF and police forces.

The Spokesperson of Abyei Special Administrative Area, Ajak Deng Miyan, confirmed that civil society demanded the deployment of UNISFA in the north and south of Abyei to avert further confrontation.

“They were calling for the deployment of UNISFA on the two sides, north and south because there had been fighting coming from the north by Misseriya, and then this inter-communal conflict from South. So they have seen like this is something coordinated,” Miyan stated.

He concluded that the final status of Abyei was to be determined simultaneously with that of South Sudan, but the interests of both Sudan and South Sudan had left the area for a long time without a viable solution.

He advised that finding the final status of Abyei would be the right decision to stop continued bloodshed in the area.

Kampala deal

Last week, the traditional leaders of Abyei and Misseriya signed a peace deal in Entebbe, Uganda. The agreement, however, di did not explicitly address all the major areas of concern.

On Sunday, the Executive Director of Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO), Edmund Yakani, told the City Review that eligibility of voters and land demarcation were some of the grey areas the conference did not touch on.

“I know the eligibility of the voters, they have not agreed upon, it is a bit disputed. And also there are some areas related to the administration of Abyei. There is no proper consensus for Juba and Khartoum,” Yakani explained.

Yakani maintained that documents named “the outcome of the permanent arbitration” and “proposal of the Hague, EU High Implementation Panel” gave the people of Abyei the right to vote for their referendum, and was protested by Misseriya nomads who demand grazing rights from Abyei land.

“The boundaries commission has demarcated the borders of Abyei. The only challenge with the border demarcation is that it denies the Misseriya the right of ownership for grazing,” he said. 

“It gives the Misseriya migration rights. They can migrate to Abyei to graze their animals. But the land they use to graze becomes South Sudanese land. Misseriya does not want it to be like that.”

He further called on the governments of Sudan and South Sudan to adopt the resolutions of Kampala peace agreement and expedite the process of determining the final status of Abyei.

“I am calling for the two governments to adopt the outcome of Dinka Ngok and the Misseriya’s Kampala agreement, then UNISFA needs to bring the government of South Sudan and Sudan to reach consensus on the genuine implementation of this outcome,” he added.

According to Kampala agreement, the Abyei and Misseriya communities agreed to advocate for inter-community dialogue, leaders should be tools for peace, work towards resolving Abyei dispute, to be meeting regularly for peace, and the investigation report of 2013 killings should be released.