S Sudan's Dinka hold unilateral vote on Abyei

Tribe in oil-rich region claimed by Sudan and S Sudan hold referendum to decide whether to join either of two nations.

Last Modified: 28 Oct 2013 07:58
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
The dispute over Abyei is one of the main unresolved disputes between Sudan and South Sudan [EPA]

South Sudan's Ngok Dinka tribe is holding a unilateral referendum to decide whether oil-rich Abyei, a district they inhabit and is under dispute between the Khartoum government and South Sudan, joins either of the two nations.

Reports said on Sunday that the referendum results were expected on October 31.

The exercise was proceeding peacefully, said Luka Biong, spokesman for the Abyei Referendum High Committee, a civic group that is organising the vote.

The quarrel over Abyei is one of the main unresolved disputes after the 2005 peace agreement between Sudan and South Sudan, which ended a civil war and led to the independence of South Sudan.

Abyei was meant to vote on whether to be part of Sudan or South Sudan in January 2011 - the same day Juba voted overwhelmingly to split from the north - as part of the peace accord.

Both the Sudan and South Sudan governments, along with the African Union, which is playing a mediation role over the district, do not recognise the referendum.

The Misseriya Arab tribes, who come to Abyei to graze their cattle and have closer ties with the government in the north, strongly oppose the unilateral referendum.

Referendum 'illegal'

About 100,000 Dinkas residing in South Sudan had returned to Abyei for the referendum, which would be conducted over a three-day period.

The Sudanese government says the referendum is illegal and goes against agreements signed between Khartoum and Juba.

Meanwhile, the African Union on Sunday accused the Sudan government of preventing an AU delegation from visiting Abyei following talks that failed to make progress on the flashpoint region.


The AU "expresses its deep disappointment and regret that it was unable to undertake the visit (Saturday and Sunday)", it said, accusing Khartoum of postponing it "for contrived security reasons".

The AU's Council for Peace and Security lamented the "obstruction" to its mission and "reiterates its deep concern at the prevailing situation in Abyei," it said in a statement posted on the internet.

The AU "stresses the need for active and continued African involvement" in resolving the dispute, it said.

A Sudanese foreign ministry spokesman contacted in Khartoum declined to comment on the statement.

The AU, which is mediating in the dispute, was initially headed to Abyei on Tuesday and Wednesday but put off the trip pending the outcome of talks between the Sudanese and South Sudanese presidents, Omar al-Bashir and Salva Kiir.

The talks on Tuesday failed to make any progress on Abyei, though the two leaders also discussed issues such as opening up border posts to residents and traders, the transportation of South Sudan's oil through Sudanese pipelines, as well as security and trade and economic ties.


Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Featured on Al Jazeera
The author argues that in the new economy, it's people, not skills or majors, that have lost value.
Colleagues of detained Al Jazeera journalists press demands for their release, 100 days after their arrest in Egypt.
Mehdi Hasan discusses online freedoms and the potential of the web with Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.
A tight race seems likely as 814 million voters elect leaders in world's largest democracy next week.
Iran's government has shifted its take on 'brain drain' but is the change enough to reverse the flow?
Deadly attacks on anti-mining activists in the Philippines part of a global trend, according to new report.
Activists say 'Honor Diaries' documentary exploits gender-based violence to further an anti-Islamic agenda.
As Syria's civil war escalates along the Turkish border, many in Turkey are questioning the country's involvement.
Treatment for autism in the region has progressed, but lack of awareness and support services remains a challenge.
join our mailing list