Sudanese army announces withdrawal from Abyei
The Sudanese army has announced its withdrawal from Abyei at the request of African Union High Level Panel mediator Thabo Mbeki.
A statement issued by the Armed Forces said it will 're-deploy the outside of the borders of Abyei to guarantee the sovereignty of Sudan'.
The army had occupied Abyei in May 2011, one year ago, driving out SPLA and South Sudan-linked police forces. Most of the civilian population fled at the time of the attack, leaving Abyei virtually abandoned by its inhabitants for most of the last year, with the exception of seasonal herders.
A popular referendum on joining the region to South Sudan or remaining part of Sudan was supposed to have been held concurrently with the referendum of South Sudan on January 9, 2011. The referendum was mandated as part of the 2005 peace agreement between Sudan and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement.