US proposes UN force for Sudan's Abyei

US introduces UN resolution that would deploy a 4,200-strong Ethiopian peacekeeping force to disputed Abyei region.

    The violence in Abyei comes as south Sudan prepares to declare independence from the north on July 9 [AFP]

    The United States has introduced a UN resolution that would deploy a 4,200-strong Ethiopian peacekeeping force to Sudan's disputed Abyei region, the scene of heavy fighting in recent weeks.

    Susan Rice, US ambassador to the UN, said the resolution will support an agreement signed on Monday by the Khartoum-based government in the north, and the government of south Sudan, to demilitarise the contested border region.

    Rice told reporters that the two parties requested the troops to be deployed under UN auspices and called for swift adoption of the resolution by the Security Council so they can get on the ground in Abyei immediately.

    "Ultimately, it's obviously up for the Security Council to decide the strength and the mandate of any UN mission,'' she said.

    "But the United States, in tabling this draft, has sought to remain faithful to the agreement reached by the parties, which we understand was hard won and inherently fragile.''

    She declined to predict how long it would take to adopt the resolution and said that it would not happen overnight.

    The violence in Abyei and neighbouring south Kordofan comes as south Sudan prepares to declare independence from the north on July 9, the culmination of a 2005 peace deal that ended more than two decades of civil war that killed about two million people.

    The north's invasion of the Abyei region and takeover of the town of Abyei was triggered by an attack on May 19 on northern and UN troops by southern soldiers.

    John Temin, of the United States Institute of Peace, spoke to Al Jazeera about the draft resolution and said: "It is important to be very clear that this is a temporary agreement that was reached."

    "The fundamental question of whether Abyei is part of north or south remains unresolved and we are no where closer to resolving that question as a result of this agreement."

    What this agreement does is remove some of the northern troops who moved into Abyei several week ago and put in Ethiopan troops to try and calm the situation, Temin said.

    Abyei tensions

    While south Sudan's independence is expected to take place on schedule, crucial issues remain unresolved.

    The areas of debate include: the future of Abyei, which is supposed to be decided in a referendum; the north-south border demarcation; how oil revenues and other resources will be shared; and citizenship.

    Rice told reporters that the purpose of the interim security agreement for Abyei is to allow the withdrawal of Sudanese forces not to settle the future of the region.

    Violence began in south Kordofan earlier this month when Sudan's military attacked a black community aligned with Sudan's south.

    The UN says that about 10,000 people have fled the region to escape the violence.

    SOURCE: agencies


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