Dr. Ambago Ramba: mile 14 is politically different from Abyei

By Deng Mangok Ayuel

November 12, 2012 (SSNA) — One may wonder why Dr Justin Ambago did politically compare Abyei issue with mile 14 which was recently signed on 27 September, 2012 by negotiating team to the surprise of Dinka Malual who owns the land. In your article (SSNA, 3 November), as I quoted, “It only suffices here to say that any attempt by Khartoum to appease the Messeiriya warlords by blocking the Abyei Referendum, in the face of what is an unanimous decision by the AUPSC will definitely expose the regime to the wrath of the international community”. On the other hand Juba may face a similar fate should it attempt to stroll an extra mile trying to appease General Paul Malong Awan, Governor of Northern Bahr Ghazal State as he and his people stand opposed to the inclusion of Mile 14 Area in the demilitarized zone.However, Abyei has been a contested area and stipulated in the CPA, 2005 to go for referendum but Khartoum didn’t respect the agreement before South Sudan became a country, 2011. Lately, Abyei shall have its referendum in 2013, inshalla! Besides, Abyei is an area with huge population as inhabitants than mile 14 within the areas of Northern Bahr el Ghazal in Aweil North County, Gokmachar. The Ngok Dinka Area is currently political troublesome and social limbo to settle in peaceful hand when coming to Sudanese ways of handling political issues.

Who is appeasing who on mile 14?

Well, mile 14 is geographically not a grazing land to Dinka or any Arab tribe but home to Dinka clans. Clearly, mile 14 is not the name of the area but miles proposed to be demilitarized zone within the parts of villages were people are partially residing. These miles in the south of Kiir River fall within the villages of Warguet in the East and Majook Diing Wol in the West. I think you were not trying to say that mile 14 was proposed to be given to Sudan for replacement of Abyei when coming to the term “appeasement “as you put it. Besides, the boundary between Rezigaat and Dinka Malual was imposed by British colonial governors of Darfur and Bahr el Ghazal in 1924, but Dinka Malual didn’t accept the agreement that go beyond Kiir River. After talks between Rezigaat and Dinka Malual’s chiefs, the Rezigaat and Beggara of South Darfur accepted that Kiir River and beyond, from Koot Ayeek, far north of Kiir River are Dinka Malual’s land. The Rezigaat has been continuously coming to our land with their animals in search of water or grazing, through understanding or agreement with local authority – they have had shown that this land, Kiir River and extended areas  belong to Dinka Malual.

Who are Ngok Dinka and Abyei Area?

The issue of Abyei is big but deserves proper analysis when compares to mile 14. Yeah, Abyei is the land of Ngok Dinka of Bahr el Ghazal region. It has been the most disputed area in the history of our generation.  The dispute over the Abyei Area has been the most volatile aspect of Sudan’s 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) and risk unraveling that increasingly shaky deal. The CPA, 2005 granted the disputed territory, which has a significant percentage of Sudan’s oil reserves, a special administrative status under the presidency. Considered a historical bridge between Sudan and South Sudan, the Abyei Area has had previously been considered part of the larger Abyei District within state of South Kordofan because it was transferred. Under the terms of the Abyei Protocol in the CPA, 2005, the Abyei Area was declared, on an interim basis, to be simultaneously part of the states of South Kordofan and Northern Bahr el Ghazal.

In contrast to the border of the former district, the Abyei Protocol defined the Abyei Area as "the area of the nine Ngok Dinka chiefdoms transferred to Kordofan in 1905. Whenever I talk of Abyei as a South Sudanese, I don’t like to bring Messiryia to the attention of my readers in my writings. Messiryia tribe doesn’t have land in South Sudan. Messiryia tribes are neighboring pastoralist population whose large traditional home area lies to the north of Abyei with Muglad as its principal town. They have had been residing in Abyei for decades but pastoralists from Kordofan, no wonder if the land of Ngok Dinka go back to South Sudan through referendum in 2013, then individual Messiryia tribe members may decide to go to Sudan or stay in Abyei as nobody is expelling them.

Where Messiryia tribes come from in Sudan?

The Messiryia tribes are known also under the name of Messeiriya Arabs as a branch of the Baggara Arab tribes. They are originally from Kordofan. The main divisions of Messeiriya in Kordofan are Messiryia Zurug and Messiryia Humr. However, in Sudan today, still they are called Messeiriya Humr and Messiryia Zurug and they acknowledge their common history and ancestry.

Hence, I would like to assure Dr. Ambago that mile 14 and extended miles belong to Dinka Malual; there is no logical reason to why you call it an “appeasement” if the government attempts to stroll extra miles Dinka Malual and eloquently stated that Dinka Malual is opposing the move. And who gave this land to Sudan? It was signed by negotiators. Some of Dinka Malual’s elders and intellectuals were consulted after a mess. I call it a mess because the land owner was excluded during negotiation. That is why you regarded us as opposition.

The political situation between Sudan and South Sudan deserves literal dialogue and mediation than appeasement since NCP leadership with its leader who had been indicted by ICC for war crime and crime against humanity are like a wounded lions. Khartoum is politically sick and the international community and AUPSC shall be its medical doctors. At least, South Sudanese are free from Khartoum‘s political headache.

Deng Mangok Ayuel is the citizen of Northern Bahr el Ghazal State, Aweil. He can be reached at [email protected]

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