Sudan wants Ethiopian UN peacekeeping troops in Abyei replaced

Ethiopian troops in Abyei, photo: Sudan Tribune

Sudan is demanding for the expulsion of Ethiopian forces from United Nations Peacekeeping mission in the contested Abyei region.

Sudan Tribune quoted Sudanese Foreign Minister, Mariam al-Mahdi as saying, “Sudan has requested the United Nations to replace the Ethiopian troops present in the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) with peacekeepers from other countries.” 

This came after the three-day meeting about the giant hydropower dam that Ethiopia now plans to operate next July ended without agreement.

The minister said Ethiopia’s decision to proceed with the second phase of the filling of its reservoir is contrary to international law, according to Sudan Tribune news. She said that Sudan is now reviewing its relations and cooperation agreements with Ethiopia but stressed that this will not affect the Ethiopian residing in Sudan including refugees.

There are more than 3300 Ethiopian troops deployed in Abyei, according to a report of the United Nations peacekeeping department in January 2021. In November 2020, the Security Council renewed the UNISFA mandate for six months until 15 May 2021

The Security Council is expected to discuss the Sudanese request during a meeting that will take place on 26 April, Sudan Tribune says.

The Spokesperson of UNISFA, Daniel Adekera says “UNISFA has not received any official communication from the government of Sudan nor from UN headquarters.”

Following renewed clashes between Sudan and South Sudan forces, UN security council deployed in Abyei with mandate to protect civilians. Sudan and South Sudan withdrew their forces in response to call by UN security council. 

A referendum in which people of Abyei were to decide their fate was to be held at the same South Sudanese were heading to the polls in 2011 as said in the comprehensive peace agreement. But the polls were not held due to disputes over eligibility to vote.

In 2013, the Ngok Dinka conducted a unilateral referendum and voted with nearly 100 percent in favor of joining South Sudan but the outcomes were not recognized.