As military stand-off continues in Sudan’s Abyei area, UN chief presses for peace

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6 May 2011 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today voiced concern over the continuing military stand-off in Sudan’s disputed area of Abyei, saying the deadlock has led to further loss of life, despite the recent peace measures agreed to by both parties.

“The Secretary-General calls upon the leadership of the National Congress Party (NCP) and Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) to refrain from any unilateral declarations regarding the ownership of the Abyei area as it jeopardizes the search for a peaceful resolution,” said a statement issued by his spokesperson.

He urged both parties to refrain from provoking each other or engaging in any military confrontation which could result in further bloodshed that could affect the future relationship between Southern Sudan, which is due to formally secede in July, and the rest of Sudan.

Mr. Ban appealed to the two sides to immediately implement the short-term measures to restore calm, as agreed in the Kadugli agreements of 13 and 17 January, and the Abyei agreement of 4 March, and to adhere to the timetable for their implementation.

“The resumption and conclusion of the negotiations on Abyei must now be a matter of priority,” said the statement.

Yesterday, the governments of Sudan and Southern Sudan committed to implementing the two recent agreements, with the assistance of the United Nations, according to Haile Menkerios, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Sudan and head of the UN peacekeeping mission in Sudan (UNMIS).

“UNMIS will also support the containment and temporary security measures while a solution is being sought,” Mr. Menkerios said after meeting the President of Southern Sudan, Salva Kiir, in Juba.

The meeting followed deadly clashes at the start of the week in Abyei that claimed the lives of at least 14 people.

Under the Kadugli and Abyei Agreements both sides committed to the total withdrawal of all unauthorized forces from the Abyei Area, leaving the maintenance of security to the joint integrated units (JIUs) and joint integrated police units, which are made up of personnel from both sides.

Tensions have been high in Abyei for months as the area remains in dispute between the north and the south. A referendum on the future status of Abyei was supposed to have been held in January but never took place amid disputes over voter eligibility.