AU call Juba, Khartoum & UN to action for stabilisation of Abyei
The African Union’s Peace and Security Council has urged Sudanese and South Sudanese presidents, Omar al-Bashir and Salva Kiir, to demonstrate restraint so as to ensure that the recent killing of the Dinka Ngok paramount chief in Abyei does not escalate an already tense situation.
South Sudan’s official spokesperson, Barnaba Marial Benjamin, relayed that the council expressed its concerns that this attack has the potential to compromise significant progress made by both countries over the last two months in achieving cooperative relations. The council therefore urged both governments to exercise control over the respective communities in the contested oil-rich Abyei area.
They further called upon the government of Sudan to ensure that those responsible for this crime are brought to justice immediately, stressing the need for consultation between the UN, AU and both governments to establish a credible, transparent and independent inquiry into the case. The terms of reference for such an inquiry should also be presented to the council, it was added.
The Peace and Security Council also expressed concerns over the fact that the various communities living in Abyei appear to be heavily armed. This is against the June 2011 Agreement on Temporary Arrangements for the administration and security of the Abyei area which stipulates that Abyei should be a weapons-free Area with only the UN mission, UNISFA, authorised to bear arms.
Both governments were urged to take all necessary steps in ensuring that Abyei is effectively demilitarised, including thorough disarmament programs if necessary, Barnaba announced, conveying the council’s message.
Both presidents have been instructed to take immediate steps to implement confidence-building measures amongst the communities living in Abyei, including a grassroots reconciliation process and programmes to assist the return of internally displaced persons.
The AU council stressed that implementing these would require the two presidents to meet immediately, in order to address the deadlock blocking the full implementation of the agreements on temporary administration and security structures just as the joint oversight committee and the establishment of key institutions such as the Abyei Area Administration, Abyei Area Council and the Abyei Police Service.
UNISFA have requested extra troops to support their mission and the council reportedly concluded by calling on the United Nations Security Council to provide these additional forces urgently so that UNISFA may be able to expand its mandate into the neighbouring border area.