CPA parties agree to demilitarize Abyei, but Southern Kordofan still tense

21 Jun 2011

CPA parties agree to demilitarize Abyei, but Southern Kordofan still tense

20 June 2011 – The Government of Sudan and Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) agreed today in Addis Ababa to withdraw their troops from Abyei and set up a temporary administration for the area.

Sudanese armed forces will be replaced by an Interim Security Force for Abyei (ISFA), to be made up of Ethiopian troops.

"The (United Nations) Secretary-General calls on the parties to abide in full by its provisions to demilitarize the area and establish an administration and police service and to provide their full cooperation to the United Nations and Government of Ethiopia in deploying peacekeeping troops and police to the area," Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's spokesperson said in a statement today.

Provisions of the agreement will not determine the final status of the disputed Abyei area, whose borders were defined by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in 2009. The area was scheduled to have a referendum on whether it would be part of the north or south in January, but this has yet to occur.

The Abyei Area Administration created under the new agreement shall consist of a Chief Administrator, a Deputy Chief Administrator and five heads of department. "In each instance, the nominating party shall make three nominations for each position, which the other party must agree on one," according to the text of the agreement.

"With the exception of ISFA, the Abyei Area shall be demilitarized. Any SAF (Sudan Armed Forces) and SPLA (Sudan People's Liberation Army) shall redeploy out of the Area. Henceforth, all other forces, apart from the ISFA shall remain outside the boundaries of Abyei Area, as defined by the Permanent Court of Arbitration," the agreement states.

Sudanese government troops entered Abyei and seized the territory on 21 May after months of skirmishes with the SPLA, sending over 100,000 residents fleeing from the area.

"All displaced former residents of Abyei have the right to return to their former places of residence," according to the agreement, which also requires both parties to ensure that humanitarian assistance reaches those in need.

Southern Kordofan conflict continuing
The Secretary-General also called for an immediate cessation of hostilities in Southern Kordofan State, where the security and humanitarian situations remained of concern, and military build-up has continued in various strategic locations.

UNMIS said that the SAF had dropped at least seven bombs on 19 June in Kauda, about 500 metres from the airstrip. No casualties were reported.

In a statement to the Security Council today, Ezekiel LolGatkuoth, head of Southern Sudan's mission to the UN, warned that the situation in Southern Kordofan "risks degenerating into ethnic cleansing and possible genocide".

UN humanitarian agencies and their partners have distributed food to 31,500 people in Southern Kordofan, but access to conflict-affected areas remains critical in ensuring urgent delivery of relief aid to the displaced population.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in an update that its partners were in discussions with parties to the conflict to establish a "humanitarian corridor" in Southern Kordofan, with regular schedules of convoys shuttling between the state's capital, Kadugli, and El Obeid, in Northern Kordofan State.