SUDAN BUILDS A NEW ABYEI IN THIN AIR

Posted: October 14, 2017 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Arop Madut-Arop, Columnists, Commentary, Contributing Writers, Junub Sudan, Opinion Articles, Opinion Writers

By Hon Arop Madut Arop (MP), Nairobi, Kenya

abyei pic

October 14, 2017 (SSB) — Early this month, the Sudanese Abyei Joint oversight committee (AJOC) co-chair, made a very ridiculous, if not incredible announcement. In his announcement, the Khartoum based AJOC, Co-chair, Mr Hassan Ali Nimr, told the press that Sudan has allocated 330 positions for the employment of Abyei university graduates. I would respond later to Mr Hassan Ali Nimr incredulous pledge. In the meantime I would rather make a brief to the issue under scrutiny and the circumstances that has led to the existence of a body called AJOC and the mandate accorded to it. I would specifically discuss the root causes of the delay in implementing Abyei Protocol and the game being played around it by Khartoum authorities (read more).

Following the defeat of the Mahdists Dervish insurgents by the Anglo-Egyptian forces at the Battle of Kerrari in September 1897, as we all know, Captain Winston Churchill, who later became his country Prime Minister, was with the invading forces. Writing later in his book ‘’The River War’’; Churchill had this to say.

When the Anglo-Egyptian forces took effective control of the affairs of the country they have occupied, we found two Sudans: the military Sudan (northern Sudan) and the real Sudan (South Sudan). Winston Churchill stated and I quote, ‘’we found the people of the real Sudan (South Sudan) hunting, dancing, marrying and killing one another. Churchill then turned and described the people of the military Sudan, as hybrid of Afro-Arab admixture who have produced people that would cost you a lot to convince them that they are wrong’’.

Remarkably, more than a hundred years on, Churchill statement has ever been proven right because; the people of the real Sudan are still hunting, dance, marrying and killing one another. Similarly, it also took over five decades, before the people of the military Sudan became convinced that they were fighting a wrong war. As a consequent of this self-discovery, on July 9th 2011; the authorities of the military Sudan grudgingly allowed the people of the real Sudan to have a country of their own choice, but after tremendous loss of human lives and much material destroyed.

In regard to the crux of the matter, it would be important to draw the attention of the readers of this piece as to how the authorities in Khartoum have been handling the case of Abyei Region and how the body called AJOK (AJOC) has come into be.

The Birth Pangs of Abyei Protocol

As it is well known, the people of the nine Ngok Dinka chiefdoms were given the right to self-determination in accordance with Abyei Protocol stipulated in the peace deal (2005. Accordingly, the citizens of Abyei would decide, in an internationally supervised referendum; where they would best be administered. Since then, 12 years have passed, and the authorities of the military Sudan are yet to be convinced that they are wrong and must agree for the implementation of the Abyei protocol; which they had accepted and endorsed, on many fora; hence have the moral obligation to implement it.

However, needless to reiterate that, following the conclusion of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement 2005, a team composed of both national and external experts were appointed. Their mandate was to define and delimit the area of the Nine Ngok Dinka Chiefdoms which was carved out from Bahr al-Ghazal Province and annexed to Kordofan in 1905.

In accordance with the provisions of 2005, CPA, the experts were expected to render the report of their findings to the Sudanese Presidency, which would subsequently be composed of: President Omar al Bashir, First Vice President John Garang and second Vice President Ali Osman Mohamed Taha.

Accordingly, on July 14th, 2005, the experts presented their report to the presidency. While the experts’ report was expected to be final and binding on the parties, as stipulated in Abyei Protocol, the northern components in the presidency rejected the final and binding deal; arguing that the experts had exceeded their mandate.

However, after many vainglorious attempts by the South Sudan ruling party (SPLM) to convince them to cooperate and accept the implementation of the protocol, President Omar al Bashir, an effort to show the world that he was serious and intended to implement the Abyei Protocol, offered four options; one of which he hoped would allow the parties to implement the said Protocol.

The first of the four options was to recall the experts to come and defend their findings in the report before the presidency. The second option was for the parties to make a political decision. The third one was to refer the case to the country constitution Court for the legal opinion. The fourth proposal was for the parties to take the case before the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague. The parties further agreed and expressed that, they would respect the result of the PCA arbitration; adding that the ruling would be final and binding on the parties.

After a year-long arbitration, in July 2009, the seven Judges of the Permanent Court of Arbitration, made their final ruling. The PCA Ruling defined and delimited Abyei area as the territory of the Nine Ngok Dinka Chiefdoms carved out from Bahr al Ghazal and transferred to Kordofan by an administrative order by the then Governor General to Kordofan in 1905. The PCA Hague Award specifically stated that, the ruling would be final and binding. Again Sudan opted out of the final and binding solution and the search to find amicable solution continued unabated.

It was against this backdrop that, in May 2011, Sudan army invaded Abyei region and occupied it. Immediately, the invasion of Abyei Area was unanimously condemned out rightly by UN Security Council; describing it as illegal invasion and occupation of a disputed territory. UNSC forthwith issued Resolution No 1990 in which it ordered Sudan to evacuate its troops from Abyei territory immediately and unconditionally.

While the world was waiting to see whether Sudan would cooperate and withdraw its forces from the area or defy the UNSC Resolution 1990, the African Union came in and told the UNSC that, as a regional body, it would try to ease the tension first, after which a way forward for the implementation of Abyei Protocol would be found.

In the meantime, AU would exert maximum effort and convince the two parties to form a power-sharing arrangement by installing a joint administration between the Misseriya and the Ngok Dinka in Abyei Area. It was in that light that in June 2011, a joint administration was formed in which the Misseriya Arabs and the Ngok Dinka people shared administrative power until a viable final and binding solution would be found.

As if to prove Winston Churchill right, President al Bashir without consultation with South Sudan President Salva Kiir; as his counterpart, defiantly dissolved the Abyei Joint Administration. Again with the initiative from the African Union, what became known as the Abyei Joint oversight committee (AJOC) was put in place.

Importantly, the mandate of the AJOC was spelt out clearly; that it was to keep the security in the region and at the same time, encouraging a peaceful co-existence between the people of the Ngok Dinka Chiefdoms and the Misseriya Arabs who traverse the area annually. The two AJOC co-chairs would operate, through the supervision of the UN forces stationed in the area (UNISFA).

The envisaged AJOC was to be led by two co-chairs. The Khartoum co-chair was to render his reports directly to President Omar al Bashir. Similarly, the Juba co-chair would give his reports directly to President Salva Kiir. This short-term arrangement was to remain so until the two parties resolved the outstanding controversy.

Regrettably, since the dissolution of the Joint Abyei Administration and the establishment of two AJOCs, the implementation of Abyei Protocol has thus become a nightmare. Having given sufficient background to the controversy surrounding Abyei Region, I would now turn and comment briefly on the Khartoum AJOC recent statement which I would append hereinafter for perusal.

Fundamentally, the Abyei region in the eye of Khartoum authorities; is not the Abyei that was defined and delimited by the PCA Hague Award of 2009. Because in accordance to the PCA Hague Award, Abyei is the territory of the Nine Ngok Dinka Chiefdoms carved out from Bahr al Ghazal and transferred to Kordofan in 1905, full stop.

To make the matter more complicated further, the later discovery of oil in commercial quantities in 1990s, Sudan immediately redefined the Abyei region; as the territory comprising: Muglad, Babanousa, al Fula and the Ngok Dinka area. There was also an attempt to make Abyei Town, the Capital city of al Salam (Peace) District to be created. But as the war was raging in the area the capital was shifted from Abyei Town to Muglad Town.

Forthwith the defunct al Salam District was named as Abyei Region.  In any case, since the creation of the new Abyei region, Sudanese authorities have been hell-bent to keep Abyei region as part of Sudan regardless of all the previous attempts made to convince them that they were wrong.

Coming to the Sudanese announcement, it would be important to tell the readers as a reminder that, during the Sudanese in invasion in May 20011, Abyei Town was completely razed to the ground and has remained in ruins till now. Assuming that the authorities in Khartoum were genuine to assist employment of the Ngok Dinka people, even so, it would demand the Khartoum authorities to allocate huge sum of money for the reconstruction of Abyei Town first. Khartoum could thereafter render social services to the Ngok Dinka citizens including the 330 university graduates positions offer.

Furthermore, if the Khartoum authorities are genuine and serious, let them calculate the 2 percent oil revenue produced in Ngok  Dinka Kec/diffra village; which is lying within the PCA Hague Box. The two percent oil revenue has unfortunately been due since 2005. Gratefully, the Republic of South Sudan, with its meager resources, is offering all social services to the resilient Ngok Dinka people as its own citizens.

Finally, as the territory of the Nine Ngok Dinka chiefdoms is currently being administered from Juba, one wonders where the Khartoum Abyei is located. Perhaps Sudan has built its own Abyei in Thin Air, as the common saying goes. Sudan announcement is hereby reproduced for perusal.

Sudan announces 330 job vacancies for people from Abyei area

The oversight committee for the disputed Abyei region from Sudan’s side has announced more than 300 job vacancies for first-degree holders in Abyei. This is the first time the Sudanese recruitment commission has included Abyei as part of its national public service. The application process is expected to begin this week in Abyei.

The head of the oversight committee in Sudan, Hassan Ali Nimir, said in a press briefing on Friday that the committee has been given the approval from the national recruitment commission to offer 330 job opportunities to sons and daughters of Abyei. Nimir said the application process in Abyei will be manual and not electronic unlike in the rest of the country due to the environment and situation of the area.

The vacancies cut across different fields including education, health, agriculture, engineering, animal resources, finance, social and administrative departments. Ends quote

Hon Arop Madut Arop, currently an MP for Abyei at SSLA and an international media consultant, holds a Diploma in Socialist journalism – International institute of journalism (East Berlin); Advanced Diploma in Liberal Journalism International Institute of Media Studies (West Berlin) and Masters of Arts Degree in International Journalism (City University of London). He is the author of two books: Sudan Painful Road to Peace, a full story of the founding and development of SPLM/SPLA (2006) and The Genesis of political consciousness in South Sudan (2012). He is also author of a number of unpublished books. He can be reached at gotnyiel122@hotmail.com

The opinion expressed here is solely the view of the writer. The veracity of any claim made is the responsibility of the author, not PaanLuel Wël: South Sudanese Bloggers (SSB) website. If you want to submit an opinion article or news analysis, please email it to paanluel2011@gmail.com. SSB do reserve the right to edit material before publication. Please include your full name, email address and the country you are writing from, plus a concise biography of yourself.

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