17 January 2011 – Top government officials meeting today in Kadugli, Southern Kordofan State, agreed on several security-related actions in the Abyei area, including military deployment and protection of returnees passing through.
Hosted by the state governor, Ahmed Haroun, the five-hour, closed session was attended by Government of Sudan (GoS) Interior Minister Ibrahim Mohamoud Hamid, Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS) Minister of Internal Affairs Gier Chuang Aluong, UNMIS Special Representative of the Secretary-General Haile Menkerios, state governors and other government officials.
The meeting resolved to move 300 police out of Abyei and replace them with two battalions of Joint Integrated (military) Units, disarm the Dinka and Misseriya communities and allow returnees free movement.
To ensure their safety, returnees would be escorted to their destination by the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF)/National Intelligence Security Service and police. Once near Abyei, they would be escorted by the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) as they moved south.
"Today, we have agreed to secure the returnees and the traders on their way to the south with the SAF and national police until handing them over to the SPLA in the south," Minister Hamid said after the meeting.
The officials also agreed on freedom of movement and grazing for nomads moving through the Abyei area and southwards. They agreed to form a technical committee comprising senior police officials from Juba and Khartoum to resolve the police issue in Abyei.
A key issue discussed at the meeting was securing road access for returnees travelling through Southern Kordofan to Abyei. A convoy of such returnees had recently been denied access and stranded at Nyama, in the northern part of the state.
Governor Haroun said efforts were underway to work with Bahr El-Ghazal and Unity states in securing the road route through Kadugli for returnees. In enabling people to travel freely, both the GoSS and GoS had agreed that borders should be flexible.
Noting that issues like the large number of returnees as well as roadblocks in Diffra and Nyama remained, GoSS Minister Aluong said such instability had caused real concern for the Juba and Khartoum governments. "Juba is committed to fulfilling all agreements reached and ready to implement (them)."
GoS Interior Minister Hamid stressed that any resolutions reached at the meeting would be implemented, confirming the GoS' commitment in bringing peace to the area.
Welcoming the agreements in a statement, UNMIS noted that it built upon and widened the accord between the Misseriya and Dinka Ngok reached last week in Abyei.
The mission commended the two parties for their continuous efforts to resolve their differences through peaceful and constructive dialogue, and encouraged all concerned to implement security arrangements agreed upon without further delay. UNMIS stood ready to provide all the necessary support, the statement said.
Also attending the Kadugli meeting were the governors of Unity and Northern Bhar El-Ghazal states, representatives from the Abyei and Southern Kordofan State security committees, Abyei's chief and deputy administrators, and other security officials.