A renowned South Sudanese activist has urged the Ngok Dinka and Misseriya communities to prioritize peace and stability in Abyei, an oil-producing region contested by both Sudan and South Sudan.
The call comes in the wake of a peace conference earmarked for Entebbe, Uganda between the Ngok Dinka of the contested border region of Abyei and Misseriya communities of Sudan’s Western Kordofan State in May.
Traditional leaders, women and youth representatives are expected to attend the peace conference organized by the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) from 16-19 May.
Edmund Yakani, the Executive Director of Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO) welcomed the move, saying a non-violent approach involving dialogue is key in resolving existing political differences.
“Violent politicking is not beneficial and may constitute acts of attempting to wage efforts for committing crime against humanity,” he remarked.
Barely a month ago, over 40 people were reportedly killed in Abyei by suspected armed Misseriya tribesmen in separate attacks. The violence displaced thousands of people into bushes and neighbouring communities.
Yakani said UNISFA is mandated to ensure that human lives as well as properties and societal growth in Abyei is devoid from all forms of violence.
“The expected Ngok Dinka and Misseriya peace talks in Uganda should be within the legal framework of the Abyei protocol as enshrined in the Chapter IV date 26th May, 2004 in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement [CPA] signed in 2005. Any attempt to undermine this legal framework will be an attempt of undemocratic resolution on status of Abyei,” he stressed.
Under the CPA provisions, Abyei was to be governed by its own elected executive council. Moreover, its inhabitants were considered to be citizens of both the western Kordofan state in the north and of Bahr al-Ghazal state in the South and were represented in the legislatures of both states.
According to Yakani, factors detrimental to the implementation of the Abyei Protocol by both Juba and Khartoum should be included in the agenda of the talks in Uganda between the Ngok Dinka and Misseriya.
He further UNISFA to ensure the African Union and Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) take part in the forthcoming peace talks.
The oil-rich border region of Abyei has been contested since South Sudan gained its independence from neighbouring Sudan in July 2011.
In December last year, the Chief Administrator of the Abyei Administrative Area called on the presidency to expedite the process of determining the final status of the area.