April 14, 2011 (KHARTOUM) – North and South Sudan have agreed to withdraw “all unauthorized forces” from Abyei and form a joint committee to monitor the implementation of an accord signed last January in Kadugli town to ease tension in the hotly contested region.
The deal was reached in a meeting held on Wednesday at the Khartoum-based headquarters of the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS), said the UN body which issued a press release welcoming the agreement and expressing readiness to provide the necessary assistance required to facilitate its implementation.
A text of the agreement seen by Sudan Tribune states that the two sides, the north’s National Congress Party (NCP) and the south’s Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), had agreed to form a Joint Technical Committee (JTC) consisting of evenly-split army and police units as well as UN representatives.
The JTC’s duty will be to oversee the implementation of Kadugli agreement, including the withdrawal of all unauthorized forces and deployment of Joint Integrated Units throughout the region.
The committee is due to meet in Abyei on April 18.
The status of the oil-producing region of Abyei remains a major point of contention in the implementation of the 2005’s peace deal that ended decades of civil wars between north and south Sudan which voted to form an independent state whose existence is due to be declared in July.
Abyei saw several clashes in the past but violence has recently been exacerbated by the onset of the migration season during which members of the north-backed Misseirya tribe traverse the borders into the areas of the south-linked Dinka Ngok tribe in order to graze their cattle.
UNMIS recently intensified patrolling of Abeyi region in the wake of clashes between Messirya and South sudan police stationed in the region. There have also been reports of military buildups in the region by the north’s Sudan Armed Forces (SAF).