By Ngor Arol Garang
May 10, 2013 – The past days have seen global community watching members of the Nine Ngok Dinka of Abyei, together with their cousins in the South Sudan shedding tears unabated. They are grieved by the unexpected, untimely and the sudden death of Kuol Deng Kuol, the paramount chief of the area, who, on Saturday 4th, was gunned down in a terrorist style act, when he fell into an ambush strategically planned by the members of the Arabs nomads of Misseriya in the Lenger area, north of Abyei.
He was part of the joint high-level government delegation which was visiting the area from Juba and Khartoum for a consultative meeting to find a common ground and to hasten discussions on the need to form a temporary joint administration in the area so as to facilitate return of the displaced persons and the conduct of the referendum.
He was traveling in a military convoy of the Ethiopian troops serving in the area as members of the United Nations peacekeeping force tasked with responsibilities to ensure that the area is free from any armed groups and provide adequate security and protection of civilians under imminent threat and their properties as mandated by the United Nations Security Council resolution which established the mission for the area.
The Council normally approves such a resolution to establish a Mission if it finds that the situation in any part of the world shows sign that it would deteriorate and develop into threat to the stability, break of peace or act of aggression. The situation in Abyei warranted the establishment and the government of Ethiopia offered to send troops to provide and maintain peace and security in the region until such time when the two sides shall agree to end the dispute but situation since deployment of the UN troops to the area remains volatile despite resolution of the UN Security Resolution, which called for unconditional withdrawal of the armed forces, as well as any other armed elements.
The decision to deploy foreign forces was part of the international attempt to diffuse tension and prevent a return to a full blown war after the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) took control of the town earlier in May 2011, forcing over 110,000 people, mostly unarmed civilians to flee. Several others were killed and many more remained unaccounted for until today.
With calls to exercise restraint and maintain peace from the regional leaders and the international community, the government of South Sudan, since no country exists in isolation of the other, immediately responded and pulled out its troops which were component of the Joint Integrated Units during the six years of interim period under the terms of the 2005 peace accord, which ended over two decades of civil war between the successive Khartoum based government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM). Sudan was expected to do the same but decided to remain in the area until in 2012 when authorities in Khartoum, wanting to draw international attention and renew contacts, decided to reduce the strength of it forces, which had entered the region. A significant strength equipped with modern weapons and conventional knowledge remained in the form of oil police in contrary to the resolution.
In September 2012, the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) on Sudan and South Sudan presented to the two presidents a peace proposal to resolve the conflict. The proposal recognised and allowed members of the nine Ngok Dinka chiefdoms as indigenous people with voting rights at the referendum together with other residents with permanently settled in Abyei.
The government in the South, including its president Salva Kiir Mayardit, immediately accepted the proposal without any conditions but the government of Sudan under its president Omer Ahmed Hassan El-Bashir quickly rejected it entirely, calling for either partitioning of the region into the north to be administered by his government and the south to be administered to be administered by the government in Juba, or inclusion of Misseriya in the vote. Khartoum sees this suggestion, which was one of the proposals by the AUHIP in 2010, as part of the attempts to resolve the dispute but which Juba had rejected, citing its lack of basis in the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement. It is this difference that has always left the area in limbo and the killing of the paramount chief had highlighted the level the dispute has reached between the two communities.
Late Kuol Deng Kuol
Having lived in Abyei I extensively interacted with Chief Kuol while covering a myriad of issues of national value, including the future of the region. Chief Kuol was not only a great leader, but wanted to see the two countries embracing each other to live side by side in pursuit of mutual benefits and build trust to promote the idea of two viable states.
He was also a great thinker and a peace strategist who had wanted the region to play a strategic role in fostering harmony by properly utilising the concept of Abyei being molded into a bridge between two independent and viable states without each taking advantage of the other.
His ideas were always appearing shaped by the national interest, thus the reason he was an admired as a leader in his community and beyond. He had more friends than adversaries. He never scorned at anyone whether big or small. He was always humble and ready to pay a listening ear. His death can never be celebrated even those who killed him may be feeling the guilt of their act. He will be remembered by the generations as someone who immensely contributed to the liberation struggle of not only the people of Abyei and their cousins in the South but also marginalised groups in both countries. The fact that he was killed on national mission accompanying the delegation shows the level of love of his people and the country.
Why the people of Abyei could not secede with the south?
Described as “a bridge between the countries” in its protocol under the 2005 peace agreement, the region, known for its fertile agricultural land prevalence of oil, lies at the border between the Republic of Sudan and the Republic of South Sudan which was formerly part of the united Sudan until on July 9, 2011, when she gained her full independent status, becoming the 193rd member of the United Nations and 54th member of the African Union.
Although majority of the area’s inhabitants are ethnically, socially and culturally linked to those in the South, could not secede with the new nation, because it was transferred to Kordofan province in Sudan in 1905 during British rule for administrative purposes. Attempts aimed at persuading successive Khartoum-based regimes since the British left in 1956 have repeatedly failed; forcing natives to join rebellions waged in the South against Khartoum, hoping that any deal with Sudan would include their case and eventually get lasting peace. Such efforts were seen when the South signed a deal with Khartoum to end the first civil war which lasted for 17 years in 1972.
In that the deal, Abyei was granted “special status” and was allowed to vote in a referendum but the vote did not take place when the agreement was abrogated by Sudan’s then military president, Jaafar Mohamed Nimery, triggering a return to war in 1983.
Angered by the failure by the government in Khartoum to allow them exercise their right under the agreement, the people of Abyei decisively joined the second war in numbers and fought with the South this time as part of the marginalised group wanting broader change in Sudan, especially the system. Many of the youth abandoned studies and joined the movement at its inception. Others followed after finishing their studies and they became some of the senior members of the movement by the virtue of their education.
With the singing of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement with Khartoum and the rebel group predominantly fighters from the South, the area got the same right of self determination as it did in 1972 but it has proved equally make the vote happen as the two sides have not been able to agree on voter eligibility. The government of Sudan wants the members of the Misseriya Arab nomads who seasonally access the area to get water and pasture for their cattle to be part of the vote, while the government of South Sudan maintains that voting rights should be limited to members of the Dinka Ngok.
It is from this short background about the region whose situation had continues to remain unpredictable despite the presence of the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) with absolute power to clear the region of any armed groups, that leaves one wondering as to when and how the status can be resolved. Normally, there are universal ways to resolve such conflicts. One way is peaceful settlement through negotiation. The other way is the involvement of an independent and competent court of arbitration lest they fail to reach an understanding after involving third party. Another option and which is universally acceptable is to conduct referendum so as to allow people involved in the conflict make decision of their choice.
In this case of Abyei, everything has been exhausted. The two sides negotiated the deal. They also involved the International Court of Arbitration in The Hague over the territorial dispute of the area and it was resolved. But the devil has been maintaining the spirit of negotiation to implement the outcomes of the talks. The territory of the area has been defined by the International Court of Arbitration in July 2009 and the decision was accepted by both sides but the implementation has not take place. The referendum was supposed to have been conducted simultaneously with the referendum on the South’s independence in January 2011 but could not take place, because of the differences over voting rights. How can this now conflict be resolved?
Some options to resolve the dispute
There are some options to avoid escalation of the conflict. One of these options is for the international community, particularly the African Union Peace and Security Council and the United Nations Security Council to use its legitimacy to unilaterally and independently, on the basis of the its communiqué endorsed by the UNSC resolution 2046, conduct the referendum for the people of Abyei so they can decide where to go within the territory defined by the court, or allow the two sides to return to war, which will have a lot of consequences that may affect peace and stability in the region.
The other option is to make it totally an independent state from Sudan and South Sudan and letting it be administered by the United Nations. Aid together with resources generated from the area, should be exclusively and meticulously used for developing it.
How the people of Abyei should honour Chief Kuol
There is no any other better way for the people of Abyei to honour Chief Kuol Adol, than to come together and clearly demonstrate thei interest and resolve to the entire world that they will work together with his replacement, Bulabek Deng Kuol. To do this, there needs to be conference in which distinguished leaders at different levels would come together to strategise on the future of their area. They must show that they are united behind a common interest. There should be no separate conference and resolutions on Abyei. There must be one, whether in the diaspora, in the South, in Sudan they must one together and decide what they want for Abyei and its future generations. Uniting for the common interest and vote unanimously to decide the destiny is the only way to realise the objective of the cause for which the chief had died.
It is important that they come together to learn to how to see things for themselves and listen for themselves and think for themselves. If they do it, then they will eventually come to intelligent decisions for themselves. But If they continue with the habit of going by what they hear Westerners say about their future, or going by what they think about the current leadership in South Sudan and Sudan tells them, instead of going and searching that thing out for themselves and seeing it for themselves, they will be walking west when they should be going east, and walking east when they should be going west. They must have an ultimate say in issues which relates to the affairs of the region, as did by the Nuba Mountains. They did not want anybody to tell them what to do.
If they don’t, then they will always be manoeuvered into fighting themselves. It is already clear that someone has planted the seeds of division in the area to make them not show genuine concern for each other.
They shouldn’t also forget the fact that the area represents one of the most important, if not the most important, fields of battle against all the forms of exploitation existing in the world. There are big possibilities for success for the people of Abyei, but there are also many dangers. The positive aspect includes general hatred for expansionism, racism and discrimination. But there is also the principal danger of the possibility of division among the peoples, which appears to be continually rising. I have concrete reasons for fearing this danger. There are many problems and challenges but the unity could be strength to find solutions. They are perfectly capable of deciding upon their own future. They have capable people, most of them great leaders of the caliber of Dr..Francis Deng, Dr. Luka Biong, Edward Lino, Juac Agok, Deng Alor, Dr. Chol Deng Alaak, Arop Madut Arop, Deng Arop Kuol, just to name a few of the committed personalities. What they need is to exert much more, and break out of the vicious cycle of dependence on others, especially those who see Abyei as a small area of few square kilometers to be compromised for peace between the South and Sudan.
The author is a Sudan Tribune Journalist. He can be reached via email@example.com.
Article source: http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article46522
7 May 2013 At today’s United Nations-backed Somalia Conference in London, Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson urged representatives from more than 50 countries and organizations to support the Government’s state-building agenda and “help take the country to a new beginning.”
“We have in the past seen examples of uncoordinated international assistance around the world. As we prepare for a new Aid Compact, let us support Somalia and the Somali Government with one voice and with one common vision,” Mr. Eliasson said in his remarks.
The conference, co-hosted by Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and UK Prime Minister David Cameron, takes place during what participants called in the final communiqué that capped the event, “a pivotal moment” for Somalia, as it rebuilds from two decades of factional fighting that followed the 1991 ousting of President Siad Barre.
In 2011, Islamist Al-Shabaab insurgents retreated from Mogadishu, and last year, new Government institutions emerged, as the country ended a transitional phase towards setting up a permanent, democratically-elected Government.
“The daunting responsibility of the Somali Government is to deliver, among competing priorities, a Constitution and elections in the space of just three years,” Mr. Eliasson said, noting the 2016 deadline for the current Federal authorities to adopt the fundamental laws of the country and to hold general elections.
Mr. Eliasson highlighted four Government priorities in his speech, which he said, provided the basis for the London Conference: security, rule of law, coordination of international aid and protection of citizens.
“The goal remains for Somalis to deliver security without outside assistance,” Mr. Eliasson said, adding that security requires capable and accountable institutions.
Security structures in the country have been backed since 2007 by the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). The AU Mission is supported by the UN Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS) and the UN Support Office for AMISOM (UNSOA).
As of next month, those missions will be incorporated into the work of a new UN Assistance Mission in Somalia, to be known as UNSOM and to be based in the country’s capital, Mogadishu. The roles of the new Mission as mandated by the UN Security Council are also in line with the four priority areas outlined in the speech of Mr. Eliasson, who alluded to a potential UN peacekeeping operation in the country in the future.
In the final communiqué, Conference participants recognized the role of the United Nations and the African Union in Somalia and welcomed their commitment to a strengthened strategic partnership.
The participants also expressed their support for the Somali Federal Government’s “ongoing efforts to establish internationally recognised Somali waters” by eradicating piracy and other maritime crimes, as well as ending toxic dumping and illegal fishing.
These topics will be on the agenda at the United Arab Emirates conference in Dubai on 11-12 September, according to the communiqué.
On the second priority – the rule of law – Mr. Eliasson stressed the importance of functioning police, courts and prisons for security and State authority. Recent attacked against the Mogadishu Court House and the Deputy State Attorney have been condemned by Mr. Ban and other senior UN officials, who noted an increase in apparent targets in the country of judicial officials and the legal system as a whole.
In his speech, Mr. Eliasson welcomed the opportunity to discuss reform of Somalia’s financial management system. Participants lauded Somalia’s efforts to tackle corruption and fund public services, and said they acknowledged “the Government’s financing gap and urgent need for short-term support to pay for salaries and operations,” according to the final communiqué.
Women and children have borne the brunt of the war, not least sexual violence, Mr. Eliasson noted. He said the UN would support the Somali Government in developing protection and access to justice for victims.
In that regard, the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Zainab Hawa Bangura, had earlier said her office would deploy a team of experts to Somalia in July to work alongside police and the military to assess their needs in the fields of training and prosecution related to sexual violence.
Ms. Bangura travelled in April to Somalia, where the Federal Government “had expressed openness to developing a framework of cooperation to address sexual violence.”
On the sidelines of the London Conference, the Somali Government and the United Nations agreed on a joint communiqué on the prevention of sexual violence, which outlines the Government’s commitment to tackling the issue. It stresses, among other things that Somali authorities will sent “the clear signal that impunity will not be tolerated” and tat perpetrators will be punished.
May 4, 2013 (JUBA) – South Sudan on Saturday welcomed a United Nations decision, which allows UN personnel to access the contested oil-producing region of Abyei, using any travel means available.
UN peacekeepers patrol the streets of Abyei town following the attack by the northern Sudanese Armed Forces (UN)
Nhial Deng Nhial, the country’s Foreign Affairs minister, said the move was in line with last year’s Status of Force Agreement (SOFA), signed by both Sudan and South Sudan, allowing UN to access Abyei without placing conditions.
UN personnel, as part of the SOFA, are allowed to travel to the disputed region, either for immediate assessment, or to conduct and respond to daily needs of the humanitarian related activities in the region.
But the world body insists it has often been difficult for its personnel to obtain visa approval, mainly from the Sudanese Foreign Affairs ministry, despite the agreement, which the two countries signed. Sudanese authorities reportedly demand foreign nationals working for the UN to get visas from Khartoum only, saying Abyei was under its administrative control.
South Sudan, however, argues that the position of the Sudanese government neither reflects the status of the contested region, nor the agreement reached.
“South Sudan welcomes the decision of the United Nations and will do its best to unconditionally facilitate movement of the UN personnel seeking access to Abyei,” Nhail told Sudan Tribune Saturday, without giving further details.
The minister’s remarks was in response to a statement by the Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator’s Office in Sudan which referred to the previous communication with authorities over the need to provide access to UN personnel travelling to the area to respond to the humanitarian needs.
The 22 April statement, also obtained by Sudan Tribune, was addressed to protocol department at the Sudanese Foreign Affairs ministry.
A UN official working in Abyei said that no response has so far been received from Sudanese authorities, while South Sudan indicated it has no objections.
“I have not seen any response from the government of Sudan. Our office is actually the one that deals with such matters. The government of South Sudan has indicated no objection to providing access to our personnel seeking to enter the region for humanitarian assignments and other relief-related activities approved by UN,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
They have expressed readiness to provide assistance without any condition, especially approval of visas, he added.
The UN made this decision after failing to get response to repeated requests seeking permission from authorities in Sudan to access the area.
“The office of the United Nations resident and humanitarian coordinator presents its compliments to the ministry of foreign affairs in the Sudan and has the honour to refer to previous correspondence relating to the permission required by UN personnel to travel to Abyei,” the UN letter reads in part.
It further states, “Based on the lack of response from the authorities concerned, the needs of the people of Abyei and the need to maintain UN programmes and project active, the UN resident and humanitarian coordinator and UNDP RR [Resident Representative] has authorised all UN personnel to access Abyei by any mean of travel available to the UN including from neighbouring countries.”
South Sudan’s president, Salva Kiir, says the fate of the disputed oil-producing border region Abyei remains his government’s top priority following the country’s secession from Sudan in July 2011.
Kiir’s remarks have raised expectations that direct negotiations on the issue may lead to more progress on the issue when he visits Khartoum for the first time since October 2011, to witness delivery of the first oil shipment to international markets through the Sudanese territory.
The status of Abyei has not been resolved despite steps which Sudan and South Sudan have taken since March to normalise their relations, after months of intermittent clashes along their undemarcated frontier.
Abyei’s status was the most sensitive issue left unsettled when South Sudan separated in 2011.
The territory was to hold a referendum in January 2011 on whether it belonged with the north or South, but disagreement on who could vote stalled the ballot.
Last year, the African Union mediation team proposed that a referendum be held in the contested region this October, but that only those residing permanently in the area would be allowed to vote in the plebiscite, and decide whether they want to join Sudan or South Sudan.
This proposal would effectively make the majority of voters come from the Dinka Ngok tribe, aligned with South Sudan, thus putting the Arab Misseriya nomads, who spend several months in Abyei every year grazing, not part of the voting.
According to the mediators, exclusion of the Misseriya nomads, in line with the decision of the Hague-based arbitration court, which defined the territory of the nine Ngok Dinka chiefdoms in July 2009.
However, Sudan swiftly rejected the plan, which received the blessing of the AU Peace and Security Council (AUPSC)
Article source: http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article46468