Security Council members today expressed deep concern about the situation in the disputed Abyei area of Sudan and urged the two sides to the peace pact that ended the country’s long-running north-south civil war to reach an agreement on the area’s status as soon as possible.
In a press statement the 15-member Council condemned the introduction by the northern and southern sides of armed forces into Abyei – a direct violation of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) that ended the war – as well as recent clashes that have resulted in fatalities on both sides.
The Council also condemned yesterday’s shooting and wounding of four peacekeepers with the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS), which took place while the blue helmets were making what was supposed to be a routine patrol of an area north of the town of Abyei.
Deadly clashes have occurred in Abyei since the start of the year when a referendum on Abyei’s status that was supposed to have been held never took place amid disagreement on voter eligibility.
Southern Sudan will secede from the rest of the country in July as a result of a separate referendum held in January, and both north and south claim Abyei.
Today’s press statement from the Council stressed the need to reduce tensions in line with an earlier agreement between President Omar al-Bashir and First Vice-President Salva Kiir to resolve the dispute over Abyei peacefully through negotiation and the assistance of the African Union’s High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP).
“In this regard, the members of the Security Council welcome the commitments made by Vice-President Ali Osman Taha and First Vice-President Salva Kiir to AUHIP that neither party shall include an unconditional claim to Abyei in its draft national constitution,” the statement noted.
“The members of the Security Council urge both parties to honour these commitments, to avoid escalation, and to seek a peaceful negotiated solution to the status of Abyei.”
The statement welcomed the 8 May deal between the two sides to immediately implement the earlier Kadugli Agreement and withdraw troops from Abyei, and called on all sides to allow UNMIS unhindered access to the people of Abyei.
In addition, Council members welcomed the recent completion of voting in elections in the state of South Kordofan, but voiced deep concern over rising levels of insecurity in that state and urged all parties to refrain from inflammatory rhetoric.