Stressing the need for continued efforts to resolve the final status of the disputed Abyei area between Sudan and South Sudan, the Peace and Security Council (PSC) of the African Union (AU) has reiterated its call to all stakeholders in the oil-rich area not to aggravate the already tense situation on the ground.
Following a two-day visit to the area to mark its solidarity with the local Ngok Dinka and Misseriya communities, the PSC reaffirmed the proposal submitted by the AU High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) on 21 Sept. 2012 as the best way to find a solution of the Abyei problem.
Members of the PSC mission returned here late Wednesday from Abyei and issued a statement renewing the Council’s appeal to the UN Security Council to urgently support the AUHIP proposal.
According to the statement, the visit was also an expression of solidarity with the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) as part of the PSC’s effort to promote peace, security and stability in the region.
The Council expressed satisfaction that the field visit afforded it “the opportunity to obtain first-hand information and understanding of the situation in Abyei.”
Acknowledging “the enormity of the humanitarian needs as well as the far-reaching challenges facing UNISFA and the Abyei communities,” the Council called for urgent development assistance, especially in the fields of health and education, and pledged to do its utmost in seeking aid for such development.
On its way to Abyei, the Council was received by South Kordofan Governor Adam Elfaki in Kadugli and expressed gratitude for the warm welcome.
On arrival in Abeyi town 5 Nov. 2013, the PSC was briefed on the prevailing situation from the Ngok Dinka community through their representatives, including Paramount Chief Bulabek Deng Kuol Arop, the chairperson of the Civil Society Organisation, the representative of South Sudan Political Parties and the chairperson of Abyei Joint Oversight Committee (AJOC)-South Sudan.
Council received briefings Wednesday from the AJOC-The Sudan and the Misseriya traditional leaders, as well as from the people of Misseriya in Diffra.
Reaffirming its position, as adopted at its 403rd meeting here 26 Oct. 2013, the Council said it was deeply concerned about the situation in Abyei, and stressed the need for active and continued African involvement in support of efforts aimed at addressing the challenges at hand.
“Council underscored the inalienable right of the people of Abyei to self-determination in accordance with the Abyei Protocol contained in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) of 2005,” said the statement.
Regarding a unilateral referendum conducted by the Ngok Dinka community last week, the Council said it had “listened to the expression of deep frustration, anger and concerns, as well as reasons for the action of the Ngok Dinka community and stressed the need for continued efforts to resolve the final status of Abyei within the context of the AUHIP proposal of 21 September 2012”.
On the last day of its tour, the Council met with the Chairman of AJOC-The Sudan,
Alkhair Alfaeem Almakki, members of his Committee, the Misseriya Paramount Chief and community leaders and people in Diffra.
“Council listened to the expressions of their deep concerns and rejection of the unilateral action of the Ngok Dinka community and reassured them that the PSC had noted their views and would take them into account during deliberations at their future meetings,” said the statement.
The PSC said the visit was aimed at helping in the healing process for the Abyei communities and expressed its determination to continue its support to the Ngok Dinka and Misseriya communities in seeking a lasting solution so that they can coexist peacefully.
In addition, Council expressed deep appreciation to the Government of The Sudan and the Government of South Sudan, as well as the UNISFA Force Commander for their tireless support in facilitating its field mission to Abyei.
The Council also commended “the laudable work of UNISFA in maintaining peace, security and stability in the area despite the daunting challenges it faced in its working environment.”