Negotiation committee holds meetings about Abyei final status

Map of Abyei Administrative Area provided by Google

A member of a committee negotiating the final status of Abyei with Sudanese authorities says they have been holding consultative meetings since the beginning of this week.

“We briefed the rest of the negotiation committee about Abyei’s issue so they can be in the picture, and therefore our negotiation position could be one. We have our position, and therefore we do not want to open new issues to negotiate on them. For instance, we won’t open negotiation on Hague arbitration, and nobody will accept shared administration,” Deng Biong Mijak said.

He added that the committee will visit the area to consult the administration and the locals on the issue. The committee will later hold similar meetings with Abyei community in Juba. Biong says the purpose is to get the views of Abyei people about the issue.

In May, President Salva Kiir formed a committee headed up by his advisor for security affairs – Tut Gatluak – to initiate talks with the Sudanese government.

The formation of the committee was welcomed by Sudanese foreign affairs minister.

Mariam al-Sadiq al-Madhdi was quoted by Eye Radio as saying, “Borders are the basis for real economic, social and political integration. There must be no conflict over such areas.”

It came a week after armed men allegedly supported by a Sudanese army killed 12 civilians and wounded several others in Dungob village, Abyei.

The body is tasked with negotiating with the government of Sudan to reach an amicable solution on the status of Abyei.

The oil-rich Abyei region is a disputed region between South Sudan and Sudan. However, according to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended a more-than-two-decade civil war between armed opposition, Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) and Khartoum’s government, the people of Abyei were to hold a referendum to decide their fate.

But, the voting was to take place simultaneously with the referendum that led to the secession of South Sudan from Sudan. However, the polls were prevented by dispute over voters’ eligibility.

In 2013, the Ngok Dinka people conducted a unilateral referendum in which they voted close to 100 percent in favor of joining South Sudan, but the outcome was not recognized.