Abyei administration says north Sudan army deployed troops in the region
December 18, 2010 (KHARTOUM) – A local administration official in the contested oil-producing area of Abyei on Saturday reported that the northern Sudanese army has deployed troops in South Kordorfan state, which borders southern Sudan.
SPLA soldiers ride in the back of a pick-up in Abyei (Enough-Tim Freccia)
The daily newspaper Al-Akhbar quoted the press secretary of Abyei administration, Shul Angok, said that the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) was continuing to increase military province in the South Kordorfan region.
Abyei area, located on the fault line between north and south Sudan, is one of the major points of contention in the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), the 2005 peace deal that ended decades of north-south civil war.
Under the agreement, the semi-autonomous region of south Sudan is scheduled to decide in a referendum due in January 2011 whether it wants to remain united with the north or secede. Abyei was supposed to hold a simultaneous vote to decide whether it should remain in the north or join the south if it decided to secede as expected.
However, that plebiscite is unlikely to happen on time due a deadlock between the north and the south over whether the cattle-herding Arab tribesmen of Messiryah can vote.
Angok claimed that the 31 battalion of SAF was currently present in the areas of Nama and Laffat al-Tumsah, adding that the battalion was receiving large reinforcements.
The press secretary, who warned of a military escalation in the area, said that south Sudan army, SPLA, did not have any presence in the area except the battalion affiliated to the Joint Defense Forces (JDF).
Established under the security arrangements protocol of the CPA, the JDF comprises equal number of military units from SAF and SPLA. The JDF is meant to be dissolved if south Sudan decided to secede.
However, SAF’s spokesman Al-Sawarmi Khalid Saad said the 31 battalion was deployed in the area permitted under the security arrangements protocol. He said that the battalion was inside the city and now it had been re-deployed to its area.