May 27, 2011

Sudan’s NCP says no recognition of South Sudan state without border demarcation

May 26, 2011 (KHARTOUM) – The ruling National Congress Party (NCP) in North Sudan added a new layer of tension on Thursday by declaring that they will not recognize the independence of the South next July unless borders are demarcated.

The head of the NCP’s political mobilization bureau Al-Haj Magid Siwar said the process must be completed on the ground before they give their blessings to the new state.

“How can we approve and recognize a new state separate from us that we don’t know where their borders begin or end,” Siwar said.

He stressed that there are six problematic border points slowing the process but he also accused the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) of deliberately stalling their resolution.

In the past NCP officials have echoed Siwar’s assertions but later appeared to have dropped this condition.

If the North insists on completion of borders before the South’s split, it will further deepen the already growing crisis between the two sides following the takeover of Abyei by the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) last weekend.

The Northern army said they seized the border region in retaliation for the ambush on their troops last week by Southern units near Abyei which they claimed left 197 soldiers either missing or dead. The SAF convoy was being escorted by United Nations peacekeepers when the attack took place.

While the United Nations acknowledged that is likely Southern units which fired on the units, they downplayed the casualties figures given by Khartoum saying that it is “much smaller”.

Today the United States ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said North’s move on Abyei appears to be premeditated.

“There’s real concern that the government of Sudan may have taken a decision to continue to occupy Abyei for its own political advantage for an indefinite period,” Rice said in a conference call after returning from the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) trip to Africa that included visits to the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, and South Sudan’s capital, Juba.

“Everybody is in agreement that this is a very destabilizing and unhelpful development and a violation” of the 2005 peace agreement that ended more than two decades of civil war between the north and the south, Rice said.

The U.S. diplomat said Abyei’s occupation won’t affect South Sudan’s independence on July 9 but she warned that if northern forces don’t withdraw, the UNSC is likely to consider action in response.

The Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir has vowed not to pull out from the region and stressed that Abyei belongs to the North.

“Abyei is Sudanese land, Northern land [and] we will not withdraw from it,” Bashir addressed a meeting of educational workers and vocational teachers on Tuesday. He also disclosed that he gave SAF the green light to respond to provocations by the Sudan People Liberation Army (SPLA) anywhere.

Western countries as well as the UNSC have urged Khartoum to withdraw from Abyei unconditionally and reinstate the area’s administration council dissolved unilaterally by Bashir last week.

Washington warned Khartoum that unless Sudan withdraws from Abyei the process of normalizing ties and lifting the country’s name from the list of states that sponsor terrorism would be stalled.

But Bashir said yesterday that he is not concerned with the U.S. “sticks or carrots”.

The 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) promised Abyei residents a referendum over whether to join north or south, but that did not take place as neither could agree on whether members of the north-associated cattle-herding tribe of Misseriya should be allowed to vote alongside the south-linked tribe of Dinka Ngok.

Human Rights Watch said Thursday the Sudanese government urgently needs to halt looting and destruction of civilian property by its forces in the town of Abyei and hold those responsible to account. It also demanded that the government allow United Nations peacekeepers access to the entire Abyei area.

The U.N. Country Team in Sudan said late Thursday that the premises of U.N. agencies and humanitarian organizations in Abyei town have been looted of medical supplies, surgical equipment, 800 metric tons of food which is enough to feed 50,000 people for three months, water and hygiene equipment.

The team said tens of thousands of people who fled Abyei have arrived in southern Sudan and are in need of urgent assistance.

Humanitarian agencies are trying to distribute food and emergency items, the U.N. said. But an unknown number of people have fled into the bush while in Turalei, 130 kilometres from Abyei town, 15,000 displaced people are living in the open.


On Thursday the SAF Chief of Staff General Esmat Abdel-Rahman said that the army will carry out a major operation next week to expel any Southern troops inside the North.

“We are addressing the SPLM; they have to withdraw any illegal troops that remain north of the 1956 border,” he told a student rally outside army headquarters in Khartoum. He stressed that this must be done by next week and noted Bashir’s directive authorizing the army to take any steps necessary without needing new orders.

He said Sudan’s armed forces were ready to open training camps for students so they can join efforts to impose law and order in northern territory.

“We have prepared the weapons and the logistics,” Abdel-Rahman said.

In a related issue the Southern minister of regional cooperation Deng Alor was quoted by local media as saying that the SPLM has decided to suspend post-referendum negotiations with the North currently underway in Addis Ababa.

“The control of Abyei by Khartoum closed the door to dialogue on all the remaining issues of Naivasha and the arrangements for post-referendum” Alor said.

“Without Abyei there is no dialogue on the remaining issues and we will not waste time on [discussing] debt or nationality or the resources or the oil,” said Alor who is from Abyei.

The Southern official warned that they have the right to stop oil flowing into the North and rejected calls by NCP for negotiations on Abyei.

He also noted Bashir’s acknowledgment that the North closed borders for a week which stopped flow of goods into the South.



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