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KHARTOUM - 29 Nov 2012

Misseriya protest over international involvement in Abyei

Protests took place in Khartoum yesterday over Thabo Mbeki’s African Union (AU) proposal on Abyei. 

Approximately one hundred members of the Misseriya tribe, a nomadic group who graze cattle in the contested border region gathered in Sudan’s capital.  They complain that the Misseriya will not be granted the right to vote in a referendum on Abyei’s future if the AU proposal, which is supported by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), goes ahead.

Speaking from Khartoum, tribal leader Mohammad Omar Ansari explained that any exclusion of the Misseriya would be considered a declaration of war. 

He further claimed that in order for the Abyei issue to be resolved peacefully, two principles would need to be adopted: the legal participation of the Misseriya people in the referendum and dialogue promoting peaceful coexistence and integration.

Ansari praised the Vice President’s current trip to a number of African countries calling for the matter to stay between the two countries.

Accusing United States’ Ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, of working against his tribe at the UN, Ansari referred to her as a ‘speckled snake’, according to the Sudan Tribune.

Mbeki’s proposal and the involvement of the UNSC follow an agreement between Sudan and South Sudan in September in which they were required to demilitarise the border zone and resolve dividing issues concerning oil-rich Abyei. 

The people of Abyei were supposed to join South Sudan in voting for their future during the 2011 referendum.  However, this was postponed when the two countries could not agree on whether the nomadic Misseriya tribe should be eligible to vote alongside the resident Dinka Ngok population.