October 9, 2022 (ADDIS ABABA) – The African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) has directed the Commission to nominate a facilitator for the Abyei Joint Oversight Committee (AJOC) and assist AJOC in carrying out its functions in accordance with the Agreement on the Temporary Arrangements on Security and Administration.
The decision, according to a communiqué issued on October 8, followed the 1108th meeting of the Council which was held in Addis Ababa on September 29.
The AU Commission was further directed to “Conduct, in cooperation with the two parties, a thorough analytical study of the recurring root causes and the triggers leading to protractible instability in the Abyei region, including developing an implementation matrix of the PSC decisions on Abyei, and brief the Council to guide further interventions.
Last week, South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir established a committee to handle Abyei’s final status. The committee is chaired by his security advisor, Tut Gatluak Manime. The Minister of East African Community Affairs, Deng Alor Kuol, will deputize Gatluak while Foreign Minister Mayiik Ayii Deng was named rapporteur.
The committee was tasked with pursuing the final status of the Abyei Administrative Area through coordination with their counterparts from Sudan.
When the Comprehensive Peace Agreement was signed in 2005, the right of the people of the Abyei region to exercise their right to self-determination was agreed upon in conjunction with the referendum of people of Southern Sudan.
President Kiir, in an interview with the London-based Al-Sharq Alawsat newsaper admitted that challenges and differences between the two parties made it impossible for the people of Abyei to exercise their right to self-determination.
“And the Abyei issue became one of the outstanding issues being discussed between the two countries,” he was quoted saying.
The South Sudanese leader further stressed that the formation of the committee from the two countries will helping in finding a final solution to the Abyei issue.
“And in the coming days talks between the two countries will start and meetings will be held in Juba and Khartoum jointly to reach a final solution,” he explained.
The people of Abyei were supposed to vote in 2011 to either be part of Sudan or South Sudan, when the latter was voting for its independence in a referendum.
However, the ballot was delayed because of wrangling between the two countries over who was eligible to vote in the region.
In 2013, the Ngok Dinka voted overwhelmingly in a referendum in favour of joining South Sudan.
South Sudan urged the UN to recognise the outcomes of the status referendum held in Abyei region between it and Sudan in 2013.
The people of Abyei appealed to the international community and presidents of Sudan and South Sudan to endorse the referendum results of the disputed Abyei region, which was held in October 2013.
However, the two countries and the international remained silent about the results of the referendum.
The government of Sudan also rejected any unilateral action in Abyei that called for the formation of a joint administration in accordance with provisions of the 2011 Agreement on Temporary Arrangements for the Administration and Security of the region.
On 11 September, the people of Abyei demonstrated calling for self-rule from Sudan and South Sudan.
ACTIVIST WELCOMES COMMITTEE FORMATION
Meanwhile a South Sudanese activist has called on the governments of South Sudan and Sudan to expedite the process of deciding the final status of Abyei.
Edmund Yakani, the Executive Director of the Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO) welcomed the recent move by Sudan and South Sudan to form a committee to negotiate the final status of the disputed oil-producing region.
“We have previously seen that in such negotiations when it comes to the final status of Abyei, people will generate another new agenda that makes people not finish the business of deciding on the final status of Abyei,” he explained.
Yakani said the final status of Abyei be determined through the Abyei Protocol.