South Sudan Government Insists Abyei Referendum Is Illegal

Michael Makuei, the South Sudan government Spokesperson said that South Sudan will not honour the on-going referendum. [Gurtong | File]Michael Makuei, the South Sudan government Spokesperson told Gurtong in an interview today that South Sudan still stands on its decision that, it will not honour the referendum because it is not “party” to.

“Up to now there is no law governing the referendum of Abyei,” Makuei said.

On Monday Dr. Luka Biong, the Spokesperson of the Abyei High Referendum Committee said that the Committee has a code of conduct referring to the legal framework for the conduct of the referendum.

Luka said the code of conduct was deduced from the Abyei Protocol spelt in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) of 2005, the Permanent Code of Arbitration of 2009 and from the proposal of the African Union High Level Implementation Panel (AUHLIP) passed last year.

However, Makuei said that; “these are mere drafts, drafts that are not been accepted by the parties – Sudan and South Sudan – and they are not instruments to be quoted.”

Last week, South Sudan distanced her self from supporting the conduct of the Abyei referendum.

Makuei said Sudan also yesterday distanced herself to honor the outcome of the Abyei referendum.

The stalled Abyei referendum however, both sides; Sudan and South Sudan for two years now failed to agree on the conduct of the referendum, compelling the Ngok Dinka residents of Abyei to unilaterally move the process.

Meanwhile, South Sudan has demonstrated its commitment for the conduct of the process; Sudan has reluctantly refused to accept any referendum in Abyei that will not allow the pro-Khartoum, Messiriya tribe to vote.

Both the two Presidents of Sudan, Omar Al Bashir and South Sudan, Salva Kiir last week failed to agree on a legal frame work for the conduct of the Abyei referendum.

The expired CPA, which ended decades of civil war fought between Sudan and South signed in 2005 had put Abyei supposed to hold its referendum in 2011 together with South Sudan.

However, both countries could not come to terms of agreement for the conduct of the Abyei referendum.

Residents of Abyei region were voting since Sunday in an unofficial referendum to decide which country they belong to, a move likely to inflame tensions in the region.

Only the Ngok Dinka are voting in the referendum — although organisers insist it is open to all — and the Misseriya have already angrily said they will not recognise the results of any unilateral poll.

On Sunday, the African Union accused the Sudan government of preventing an AU delegation from visiting Abyei, accusing Khartoum of blocking it “for contrived security reasons”. 

A statement from the Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union (AU), Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, said that the African Union strongly condemns the holding of a unilateral “referendum” in Abyei.

AU is closely following the situation in the Abyei Area with deep concern, of the organization by the leadership of the Ngok Dinka community of a unilateral “referendum”, to determine the final status of Abyei. 

She said that unilateral act is in violation of the relevant decisions of the AU Peace and Security Council (PSC), and can only heighten tension on the ground and further complicate the search for a mutually acceptable solution within the framework of existing commitments.

She calls on those orchestrating this illegal act to put an immediate halt to their actions, as they pose a threat to peace in the Abyei Area, and have the potential to trigger an unprecedented escalation on the ground, which could negatively affect the continuing normalization of relations between Sudan and South Sudan, with far-reaching consequences for the region as a whole. Such escalation could also put the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) peacekeepers in a very dangerous position.

The Chairperson of the Commission acknowledges with appreciation the rejection by the Government of South Sudan of any unilateral action in Abyei. She calls on the international community, including the United Nations, to condemn the ongoing unilateral and irresponsible action in Abyei, and to prevail upon those concerned to cease it immediately.

The Chairperson of the Commission reiterates the AU’s position on the issue of Abyei, as contained in relevant PSC communiqués, including AU’s acceptance of the Proposal submitted by the AU High-Level Implementation Panel on Sudan and South Sudan (AUHIP) on 21 September 2012. As stressed by the PSC, this Proposal represents a fair and balanced solution that takes into account existing commitments and the interests of the communities on the ground.

The Chairperson of the Commission also calls for the expeditious implementation of 20 June 2011 Agreement on Temporary Administrative and Security Arrangements for the Abyei Area. In this respect, she welcomes the decisions reached by the Presidents of Sudan and South Sudan during their recent Summit in Juba.

The Chairperson of the Commission further urges the Abyei communities to exercise utmost restraint and give maximum cooperation to UNISFA in order to ensure the maintenance of peace and stability in Abyei. She seizes this opportunity to pay tribute to UNISFA for its commendable efforts, in spite of the challenging environment in which it is operating. 

The Chairperson of the Commission looks forward to the forthcoming visit of the PSC to Abyei, and is confident that PSC interactions with all parties concerned can assist in defusing the prevailing tension and facilitate a consensual way out of the crisis, with the support of the AUHIP. 

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