Khartoum, Juba at odds over Abyei stand by UN

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Peacekeeper troops from Ethiopia and deployed

Peacekeeper troops from Ethiopia and deployed in the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei patrol outside Abyei town on December 14, 2016. PHOTO | ALBERT GONZALEZ FARRAN | AFP 

KEVIN J KELLEY

By KEVIN J KELLEY
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Sudan and South Sudan took contrasting stands last week during a United Nations Security Council debate on the UN peacekeeping force in the disputed and volatile Abyei region that straddles the two countries.

But with neither Sudan nor South Sudan having a vote on the matter, the 15-member Council unanimously approved a resolution to reduce the number of Blue Helmets in Abyei while increasing the size of a UN police contingent there.

The resolution extends the mandate of the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNifsa) until November 15.

Sudan’s delegate told the Council that his country rejects a provision in the resolution appointing a civilian deputy head of UNifsa without his government’s approval.

Yasir Abdalla Abdelsalam Ahmed also objected to the Council’s decision to enlarge the UN police force, saying these initiatives impinge on Sudan’s claim of sovereignty over the region.

South Sudan’s delegate, Cecilia Adeng, welcomed the appointment of a civilian deputy head of UNifsa as a means of facilitating the return to Abyei of Ngok Dinka people displaced from the region.

She emphasised that Abyei’s final status has not been determined.

She also expressed regret that the resolution adopted on Tuesday does not address the assassination in 2013 of Ngok Dinka Paramount Chief Deng Kuol as well as the killing of an Ethiopian UN peacekeeper.

That attack was carried out by Misseriya pastoralists who had earlier sided with Sudan in the civil war that resulted in South Sudan’s independence.

Some Ngok Dinka played key roles in the armed uprising that led to South Sudan’s secession from Sudan.

The Security Council resolution was critical of both sides in the dispute over Abyei.

It condemned the intermittent presence of South Sudan security service personnel and the deployment of Diffra Oil Police units in Abyei, calling those moves a violation of a 2011 Abyei agreement.





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