January 12, 2023 (JUBA) – South Sudan and Sudan leaders have directed the joint mechanisms to convene a meeting on the final status of the oil-producing and border contest region of Abyei.
The directive came out in a joint communiqué by South Sudan’s foreign affairs and international cooperation with the ministry of foreign affairs of Sudan following a meeting between President Salva Kiir and Gen Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, Chairman of the Sovereign Council of Sudan in Juba on Thursday.
“ To ensure our shared border is a source of strength and prosperity for Sudan and south Sudan, the two heads of state call upon the existing mechanisms related to Abyei to redouble their efforts towards determining the area’s final status and promoting economic cooperation and socio-economic development to the communities in the area,” reads the communiqué.
Al-Burhan and Kiir further call upon the existing mechanisms here to convene as agreed upon in the meeting held in Khartoum on the 24th of October 2022, further added the joint statement.
South Sudanese Minister of East African Affairs, Deng Alor Kuol who is from the contested area told Sudan Tribune on Friday that the South Sudanese side has been ready to meet the Sudanese side for talks on the final status of Abyei.
“The will of the people of Abyei has long been ignored and people are getting frustrated and agitated each time they hear the two leaders have met and discussed something on Abyei,” he said.
“They were always waiting to hear something positive about the final status of the Abyei but as leaders, we have been encouraged to continue to have faith and be hopeful. It took the Israelites 40 years to reach the Promised Land. The people of Abyei should not lose hope. They will eventually get there. The final status will be settled,” he stressed.
The final status of the Abyei region is guided by a special protocol in the comprehensive peace agreement which provides to hold a referendum on the future of the area.
The residents of the border area have to choose between remaining part of Sudan or joining independent South Sudan.
However, the failure of the two sides to agree on who is a resident, eligible to participate in the referendum complicated and stalled the process.
The two countries, in a meeting held in the Sudanese capital Khartoum in October 2022 agreed to jointly expedite the provision of services to the citizens of Abyei and activate joint mechanisms to provide the necessary humanitarian services and create an appropriate environment for the communities in the region.
They further agreed to encourage the two sides to use the mechanisms as the platform through which social peace and community dialogue among different communities in Abyei could be established and restored as a gesture of trust building.