Sudan: SPLM: North-South border demarcation commences Sunday

By Julius N. Uma

February 15, 2011 (JUBA) - Demarcation of the border between North and South Sudan, which remains a contentious issue after the South in January voted for independence, a senior official from the South's ruling party said Tuesday.

At least 80 percent of the border have so far been demarcated.

Pagan Amum, the southern minister for peace and implementation of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), in which the right to self determination was granted, told a media briefing in Juba that the technical committee, tasked with overseeing the demarcation process is expected to table its actions on Wednesday.

The demarcation process, Amum clarified, will also involve the mapping of the contested areas.

On the fate of Abyei referendum, Amum, also the SPLM's secretary general, said the South's ruling party and its Northern counterparts the National Congress Party (NCP) are due to hold a Friday meeting on the future of the oil-producing area.

Oil-producing Abyei was supposed to hold a referendum to decide whether it will remain in the North or be transfered to South Sudan but it has been delayed over disputes between NCP and SPLM regarding who is eligible to vote.

"Both members from the SPLM and the NCP will meet and the outcome of their meeting will be reported back to the presidency," Amum said, adding that the SPLM remain committed to peaceful resolution of the Abyei saga.

The SPLM secretary general's remarks came nearly a week after Salva Kiir Mayardit, the president of South Sudan, outlined the region's post-referendum hurdles. According to Kiir, success in the referendum marks the beginning of a new struggle.

"The announcement of the self-determination referendum results marked the end of the era of the long struggle. At the same time, it will mark the beginning of a new era in our history," Kiir, also Sudan's first vice president said.

The post-referendum period, Kiir reiterated, shall focus on resolving outstanding issues within the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), citing the Abyei referendum, border demarcation question and matters concerning the sharing of the oil revenues.

Under the CPA, oil-producing-Abyei was due to hold its own referendum to decide whether to remain as part of the North or join what, in July, will be a newly independent South.

Abyei's referendum, which was supposed to take place in January, was delayed due to disagreement between the NCP and SPLM on who was eligible to vote. The SPLM say that only the South-aligned Dinka Ngok ethnic group have the right to take part, while the NCP want the pastoralist Misseriya who enter Abyei for a few months each year with their cattle, also be granted full voting rights.

Reuters reported Monday that three traders were killed in Abyei on Saturday by an angry mob after a soldier attempted to enter the town's market.