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JUBA - 27 Nov 2012

Meeting in Juba prior to UN Abyei Agreement

Luka Biong, South Sudan’s head of the supervisory committee, revealed on Sunday that he met with the Sudanese Ambassador to South Sudan prior to a UN Status of Forces Agreement (SoFA) on Abyei. 

South Sudan signed the agreement which extends the mandate of the United Nations Interim Security Force in Abyei (UNISFA) at the UN headquarters in New York last week. 

The agreement had already been signed by the Government of Sudan in October but Luka Biong confirmed that he met with Sudan’s Ambassador in Juba prior to his own government’s ratification. They discussed, he claimed, a way forward on Abyei as well as Sudan’s reservations about Mbeki’s African Union proposal.

There had been tensions surrounding the AU mediation regarding the nomination of individuals for the administrative and leadership positions within the new independent Abyei administration. 

However, Biong said in an interview with Radio Tamazuj on Sunday that the signing of the agreement was a major breakthrough and that it confirms that the two countries currently hold joint sovereignty over the area. 

A meeting has been set for the 5th December to clear up outstanding issues, including the nominations.  If these cannot be resolved during the discussions between the two countries, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) will be authorised to step in order to offer a referendum to the people of Abyei.

Meanwhile, key figures from the Sudanese leadership are travelling to a number of nations throughout the continent carrying a message from President Bashir.  These efforts are said, at least partially, to be an attempt to prevent the issue from being transferred to the Security Council.