Khartoum, Juba parties fail to strike deal on Abyei
Posted Tuesday, January 15 2013 at 02:00
African Union mediators had proposed that a referendum be held in October this year to determine the status of the region.
Sudan and South Sudan have failed to strike a deal on the composition of the interim administration for the contested Abyei region in the latest round of talks held in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, an official has said.
South Sudan chief negotiator Pagan Amum Okiech said yesterday that Sudan raised new demands on the nominees to the Abyei Legislative Council in contradiction of the previous agreements.
Formerly, Sudan’s ruling party used to front nominees for 40 per cent (8) of the seats in the 20-member assembly, as South Sudan nominates members for the remaining 60 per cent (12).
Of the eight, Sudan would front four Dinga Ngok members, who are the original inhabitants of Abyei and four from the cattle-herding Misseriya tribe that grazes its cattle in the area during the dry season.
Under this model, 16 members of the council were coming from the Dinka Ngok. But during the talks at the weekend, Pagan said Sudan raised its representation to 50 per cent, even without guarantee that the Dinka could still hold their four seats.
“Sudan has presented different conditions from those we agree upon. So the talks have ended without agreement,” Pagan said. “We would like the African Union to exercise its influence to persuade Sudan to drop the new conditions”.
The nine Dinka Ngok chiefdoms of Abyei, which was administratively transferred from Southern Sudan to Southern Kordofan in 1905, fought alongside the south against the successive Khartoum governments in the decades-long civil war that culminated in the 2005 peace deal, paving the way for independence of South Sudan in July 2011.
The peace deal provided for a referendum in January 2011 for the Dinka Ngok chiefdoms that were transferred to decide whether to join their African brothers in the South or remain as part of Sudan. But the vote was derailed as both sides could not agree on who was an eligible voter.
However, Sudan gave a different account of the weekend talks, saying the “meetings on Abyei have scored success as the two parties agreed on formation of administrative structures immediately,” according to the Sudanese Medica Centre (SMC).
SMC reported Sudan’s co- chair of Abyei Joint Oversight Committee (AJOC), Al Khar Al Fahim, as saying the negotiators “have taken notice of each other nominations and agreed on legislative council and administration presidency.”
Mr Pagan, however, said the statement by Sudan was “wrong”.