With less than 100 days left before South Sudan’s independence, the situation in the border region of Abyei has only become more combustible. In the last month, Abyei residents witnessed violence that led over 20,000 people to flee their homes, while in recent weeks, satellite imagery and statements from the U.S. and U.N. confirm the escalation of military activity in and around the volatile area.
With time running out for the two parties to reach agreement on a political solution to Abyei, Sudan expert Douglas Johnson provides the new report, "Abyei: Sudan's West Bank," outlining one possible path forward.
The report provides a concise history of the Abyei conflict and critiques international mediation efforts to secure peace for the border region so far. Johnson offers concrete recommendations for international diplomats going forward.
Here’s an excerpt:
Recent fighting in the Abyei area, involving Sudan Armed Forces, or SAF, and allied militias, throws doubt on Khartoum’s commitment to the full and final implementation of the CPA. It demonstrates Khartoum’s willingness to continue limited warfare against the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army, or SPLM/A, along the North-South border and to support the continued dispossession of local populations and their replacement with settler populations allied to the government. (…) A just resolution to the Abyei conflict therefore needs to include the restoration of the Ngok Dinka’s right to decide an administrative change by referendum, the return of displaced Ngok to their own land, and guaranteed access to traditional grazing areas for both Ngok and Misseriya.
Johnson served as an advisor during the Comprehensive Peace Agreement negotiations and was a member of the Abyei Boundary Commission, in addition to authoring several influential books on Sudan.
Photo: Protestors in Abyei wield signs calling for full implementation of internationally-backed agreements previously reached on the volatile border region (Tim Freccia)