VP Abdelbagi calls on UN to recognise Abyei referendum

VP Abdelbagi calls on UN to recognise Abyei referendum
South Sudan Vice President Hussein Abdelbagi and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres in New York. [Photo: courtesy]

The Vice President for Service Cluster, Hussein Abdelbagi, has called on the United Nations to recognise the 2013 Abyei Community Referendum to determine Abyei’s final status.

Abdelbagi made the remarks on Monday in a sideline meeting with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in New York during the 77th UN General Assembly.

He called on the United Nations to recognise the Abyei referendum that was rejected by the former Sudanese regime and the African Union.

The residents in the disputed region of Abyei conducted a community-based referendum and voted overwhelmingly (99.9 per cent) to join South Sudan.

However, the African Union dismissed the result and termed it a threat to peace between Sudan and South Sudan.

Abdelbagi reiterated that the issue of Abyei remains a thorn in the flesh of the South Sudanese government and needs intervention from the international community.

He added that the government remains committed to ensuring that peace prevails in Abyei and the region.

At the same meeting, VP Abdelbagi said the government of South Sudan plans to increase the annual education budget by 20 percent.

The two countries of South Sudan and Sudan did not agree on who is eligible to vote during the referendum.

Since the beginning of the year, there have been several clashes in Abyei that have displaced almost half of the population in the area. Many peace conferences have been held between Misseriya and the Ngok but insecurity persists in the area despite the presence of UNISFA.

Push for autonomy

Recently, Abyei Voice for Security and Stability report recommended self-rule for the people of Abyei as a means of ending the suffering and continued conflict in the contested area.

However, the report was rejected by the government and the major opposition party, SPLM-IO, arguing that it was a one-man-driven policy.

The report recommended that Dinka Ngok should govern themselves and Abyei be an internationally defined territory, whose people are entitled to dual citizenship in Sudan and South Sudan.

‘‘We believe that this arrangement, the details of which can be negotiated by the parties, offers the only hope for achieving sustainable peace, security, and stability for our people, who have suffered too much for far too long.” We believe it is a common ground, where there is no winner or loser, and where all the stakeholders are winners, “the group notes in the report which recommends autonomy.

Signed by the chairperson of Abyei Voice for Security, Sophia Deng, the report states that the local community in Abyei sees themselves as South Sudanese but also faces other underlying obstacles in their push to join South Sudan.

It states: ‘‘Ngok Dinka unequivocally see themselves as South Sudanese by all the relevant factors, their demand to join South Sudan and rejection of affiliation with Sudan derives significantly from the gross mistreatment, discrimination, marginalization, and persistent attacks from their Missiriya Arab neighbours…’’

Also, Abdelbagi expressed the South Sudan leaders’ commitment to implementing the peace agreement, adding that lack of funds remains a challenge.

He appealed to the international community to support peace implementation in South Sudan to facilitate a peaceful transition of power for two years.

Abdelbagi emphasised the commitment of the South Sudan government to working together with the rest of the world in promoting human rights through the protection of people’s rights.