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By Morris Kuol Yoll - 1 Jan 2024

Opinion | Abyei Box is a distortion of the boundary between Sudan and South Sudan

After meeting with Dr. Riek Machar, the First Vice President of South Sudan, Dr. Luka Biong published an opinion article titled “The Abyei Box: What Do You Know” on Radio Tamazuj.

In the article, he stated that the purpose of meeting Dr. Riek was to discuss “some twisted facts about the Abyei Box”.

From this point of view, Dr. Biong did not meet Dr. Machar to discuss the so-called “twisted facts about the Abyei Box.” Instead, he met with Dr. Machar to insinuate that the latter knew how the Abyei Box was created and to also use an opportunity to write an opinion article to assert that the Abyei Box is legitimate.

Dr. Biong planned to inform South Sudanese and the international community that Dr. Machar, President Salva Kiir, the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA), UNIFSA, and the Government of Sudan were aware of the creation of the falsified part of the “Abyei Box’s” map and, for that matter, endorsed the fictitious “Abyei Box” as a map of Abyei Special Administration Area, the land of the nine Ngok Dinka sections transferred to Kordofan in 1905. 

In short, Dr. Biong wanted to cleverly tell people that the Twic Community contributed to the creation of the crafted Abyei Box map which etched the territories of Twic County into Abyei's territory.

The mentioned points were Dr. Biong’s intentions to provide false information to the public about the Abyei Box which was crafted by the SPLM/A Abyei politicians.

He failed to consider that many South Sudanese cannot be fooled at this point regarding the Abyei Box including those who participated in crafting the map and The Hague's ruling regarding the Ngok Dinka sections of the Abyei Administration Area.

The ruling awards report, produced by the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA), is a public document. Many South Sudanese have read the text and are therefore aware of what was awarded to the Ngok Dinka of Abyei, as well as the distortion of its final awards by the Abyei’s elites.

It is a fact that Dr. Luka Biong is one of the Abyei politicians who participated in creating a map called "Abyei Box" that has distorted the international boundaries between Sudan and South Sudan. A map that he took to The Hague to be approved as a map of the nine Ngok Dinka sections that were transferred to Kordofan and a map that has created the current communal war between Twic and Ngok Dinka.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) was tasked with determining the areas of the nine Ngok Dinka in the northern, eastern, and western boundaries, excluding the southern boundary that divides Ngok Dinka of Kordofan-Sudan and Twic Dinka of Bahr El Gazal. The PCA came up with a ruling that awarded the northern boundary to Ngok Dinka, as stated here in its final awards.

In respect of the ABC Experts’ decision that “[t]he Ngok have a legitimate dominant claim to the territory from the Kordofan – Bahr el-Ghazal boundary north to latitude 10°10’N,” the ABC Experts did not exceed their mandate.

The northern boundary, known as the “Kordofan-Barh el Gazal boundary,” refers to the boundary between the Sudan and South Sudan north of Abyei. This boundary separates Ngok and Messirya.

The Southern boundary between Barh el Gazal and Kordofan, as of 1 January 1956, is known as the Kiir River and separates Ngok of Abyei and Twic County.

The boundary between Twic Dinka of Barh el Gazal and Ngok Dinka of Kordofan, Sudan, was left as it is according to The Hague's arbitration awards ruling of 22 July 2009, as stipulated in the following document: “In respect of the ABC Experts’ decision that “[t]he southern boundary shall be the Kordofan – Bahr el-Ghazal – Upper Nile boundary as it was defined on 1 January 1956,” the ABC Experts did not exceed their mandate” (Report of International Arbitration Awards, P.413).

The ruling indicates the southern boundary is the Kiir River, and that it was left as it is according to The Hague's ruling. The Kiir River is the true boundary that separates Twic and Abyei. The undefined boundary adopted by the Abyei Special Administration is irrelevant.

Although The Hague's ruling was put into place, the Abyei Box map, adopted by the Abyei Special Administration, still creeps south of the Kiir River, violating the Southern boundary between Bahr el Ghazal and Kordofan, which separates the Ngok and Twic Dinka.

In other words, the Abyei Box map distorts the international boundaries between Sudan and South Sudan because Abyei is not yet part of South Sudan, and the boundary between Bahr el Ghazal and Kordofan was left as it is according to The Hague’s Ruling.

Furthermore, I am aware that, according to the ABC's “Southern Sudan Boundary Background” report, the boundary south of the Kiir River was not demarcated to give Abyei a demarcated map that crossed the 1956 boundary between Twic and Abyei.

The Southern Sudan Boundary Background report recommends that the Southern boundary between Twic and Ngok be resolved after 2011 and recommends that physical landmarks be developed to help when the demarcation of this boundary comes forth in the future.

The ABC's "Southern Sudan Boundary Background" report does not refer to the map of the Sudan, which indicates the 1 January 1956 boundary running through the Kiir River, but another map (the current Abyei Box) that crossed the Kiir River with undefined physical boundaries, and a map with no "topography” or landmarks, a map that according to the ABC report could pose problems when the time to demarcate the boundary between Twic County and Abyei Special Administration arrives.

I wonder why this map was chosen as the “Abyei Box” map instead of the 1956 map in which its boundary was recognized as 1 January 1956 as stipulated in the ruling, a boundary that according to the Hague ruling should remain as it is.

The current Abyei Box map should have adhered to The Hague ruling and adopted the southern boundary that passes the Kiir River according to the court’s ruling and according to the 1956 boundary agreement between Sudan and Southern Sudan.

The Hauge ruling left this southern boundary to remain as it is according to 1 January 1956. However, the Abyei Box crossed this boundary southward, which is a violation of the Hague ruling.

Dr. Biong should explain why or how the "Abyei Box" map crossed the Bahr el Gazal-Kordofan boundary despite the court ruling that stated the Southern boundary should remain as it is according to the 1 January 1956 boundary agreement.

Given the aforementioned Hague ruling, who else has fabricated or twisted the facts about the “Abyei Box” other than Dr. Luka Biong, who was himself the Presidential Affairs Minister trusted by the President to help the ABC determine the correct boundary of the nine Ngok Dinka transferred to Kordofan in 1905?

The Abyei Box Map is a falsified map that cannot be sold to the public as a legitimately recognized document. The Abyei Box Map has generated conflicts between communities, and I believe that the “Abyei Box” Map is a political “Pandora's Box” for South Sudan that must be nullified to achieve peace between the Ngok Dinka of the Abyei Administration Area and the affected communities. 

It is clear from the texts of the Permanent Court of Arbitration that the "Abyei Box" map Dr. Biong is selling to the South Sudanese as a legitimate map produced by the PCA is wrong.  A true "Abyei Box map" should have its boundary running through the Kiir River, following The Hague ruling that confirmed the January 1 1956 boundary that separates Ngok of Abyei and Twic County.

Morris Kuol Yoll is a concerned South Sudanese Canadian who resides in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, and can be reached at

The views expressed in ‘opinion’ articles published by Radio Tamazuj are solely those of the writer. The veracity of any claims made is the responsibility of the author, not Radio Tamazuj.