Let the Abyei Citizens Decide Their Fate

By: Mading De Manyok

"Any arrangements undertaken by the South Sudan to hold a referendum (in Abyei) are illegal, and no party can organize the referendum independently without the other, considering that the vote is one of the tools of the final solution to the issue", Al-Khair Al-Faheem.

September 20, 2013 (SSNA) — With the preparation under ways for the referendum for Abyei to take place, both Khartoum and Juba governments are not yet seem to be in mood of conducting transparent and democratic referendum as demanded by the people of Abyei though South Sudan already taken its part to let the referendum vote to decide where to go but Khartoum government keep insisting over it to happen. I can’t understand why Khartoum governments go parallel in solving Abyei problem with Juba government. What Abyei people want is to have peace in their region just like other regions whether in Khartoum or Juba. The suffering of Abyei citizens are beyond incomparable because Khartoum has intentionally tried to wipe out all the Abyei citizens and to remain with the land’s oil. Failure of all resolutions by Khartoum leadership and went into opposite directions by engaging in war instead of dialogue as South Sudan government prefers.

The indication of such intentions was the recent rejection of Abyei referendum by Sudanese Co-Chair of the Abyei Joint oversight committee Al-Khair Al-Fahim saying conducting referendum will be illegal and could lead into unlimited consequences. Well, the consequences had already been experience by Abyei citizens, for instance the invasion of Abyei in 2008, also another invasion in 2011 living hundreds of civilians dead and displace thousands of Abyei people from their homes; the recent killing of paramount Chief Kuol Deng Kuol are live example that show Khartoum government do it purposely not to allow Abyei people to have peace at all but make the region as warring zone. The issue of Abyei status had been negotiated by both Khartoum and Juba for almost two years now, but there is no solution for Abyei status.

According to Sudan Comprehensive Peace Agreement, the Protocol on the Resolution of the conflict in the Abyei Area signed by the two parties to the CPA on the 26 May 2004, accorded Abyei a special administrative status. Administered under the Presidency, the residents of Abyei remain citizens of both Western Kordufan in the North and Bahr el Ghazal in the South with representatives in the legislatures of both states. The resolution further provided for the conduct of the Abyei Referendum simultaneously with the referendum for Southern Sudan on self-determination in 2011 but all the resolution fails, and none of both leadership whether Khartoum or Juba can be blame in violation of the agreement over Abyei status.  

As time approach for the People of Abyei to decide where to belong, it is wisely for both governments of Khartoum and Juba to develop appropriate mechanism to proceed with the progress of conducting Abyei referendum in October this year to back up the proposal presented by Chairman of African Union High Panel (AUHP) Thabo Mbeki which set October as appropriate timetable for Abyei referendum to take place. However, Abyei people were supposed to hold referendum in January 2011 with Southern Sudan referendum process by then on whether Abyei residents want to join north or south Sudan, unfortunate there were disagreements on who is eligible to vote between the Dinka Ngok tribes and the Misseriya tribe who spend their time in Abyei on pasture reason.

Though, Sudan rejects the conduction of the Abyei referendum next October and insists that holding the referendum from one side is illegal, warning against a new setback in the relations between the two countries if Juba insists to conduct the referendum. Not the Juba government who is on pressure, but it is the will of Abyei citizens to decide. The Abyei people are more hopeful toward the conduct of referendum process next month in order to them gateway of peace and stability in their region like other regions in South Sudan or Sudan depend of the referendum outcome. I think for Abyei status to end and to have mutual peace between South Sudan and Sudan is for the international communities’ leaders to intervene to have share in bringing solution to Abyei problems. It is because both Khartoum and Juba governments are now not willing to solve it without pressure from international communities. It will be good for international communities to support Abyei referendum otherwise failure to support them will force Abyei citizens to declare unilateral independent as their will.

Abyei citizens are much hopeful that this is the final fate where October referendum will take them into. The two governments of Khartoum and juba need a way forward on Abyei status not just to remain in deadlock but to support the people of Abyei to decide their future in an open heart. The suffering of Abyei citizen must come into an end. So, the best alternative now is to let the Abyei citizens decide on their fate through referendum as a true mean of solving this oil rich area. These will be the best solution to end the frequent killing and suffering of Dinka Ngok Abyei people who had generously suffered for decades.

The Author lives in Juba, and can be reached via email: [email protected]

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