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Ban welcomes withdrawal of Sudanese troops from border flashpoint area

UN peacekeepers in Abyei, which is contested by Sudan and South Sudan.
UN Photo/Stuart Price
UN peacekeepers in Abyei, which is contested by Sudan and South Sudan.

Ban welcomes withdrawal of Sudanese troops from border flashpoint area

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomes the full withdrawal of Sudan's military from the disputed Abyei area yesterday and calls on its Government to withdraw all remaining armed police forces, his spokesperson said today.

“He urges the Governments of Sudan and South Sudan to immediately establish the Abyei Area Administration to provide the governance needed for civilians in the area to live in peace, as well as the other bodies provided under the 20 June 2011 Agreement on Temporary Security Arrangements for Abyei,” Mr. Ban's spokesperson added in a statement, noting that the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) had confirmed the withdrawal.

South Sudan became independent from Sudan in July last year, six years after the signing of a peace agreement that ended decades of warfare between the north and south. However, the peace between the two countries has been threatened by clashes along their common border and outstanding post-independence issues, including the ownership of the Abyei area which straddles the two countries.

Established by the Security Council in June 2011, following an outbreak of violence after Sudanese troops took control of the area weeks before South Sudan became independent, UNISFA is charged with monitoring the situation on the ground. It is also authorized to use force in protecting civilians and humanitarian workers.

Mr. Ban's spokesperson noted that the Secretary-General welcomes the resumption of post-secession negotiations between the Governments of Sudan and South Sudan under the auspices of the African Union (AU) High-Level Implementation Panel.

The UN chief also encourages the two Governments to display the “leadership necessary to resolve all outstanding issues within the time frame proposed by the African Union Peace and Security Council Communiqué of 24 April 2012 and the UN Security Council resolution 2046 of 2 May 2012,” the spokesperson said.

The AU communiqué contained a roadmap, for implementation by both Sudan and South Sudan, as well as a time-frame, aimed at helping ease tensions, facilitate the resumption of negotiations on post-secession relations and normalizing their relations.

The Security Council's resolution 2046 called on the two countries to immediately end hostilities and resume negotiations to resolve all outstanding issues – including Abyei. It also voiced the 15-member body's intention to take “appropriate measures” if the parties do not comply.

In his statement, Mr. Ban's spokesperson added that the Secretary-General calls upon both Governments to activate the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism to help ensure the security of their common border.