What does the extension of the UNISFA mandate means for Abyei’s Future?

Posted: November 18, 2018 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Columnists, Commentary, Contributing Writers, Junub Sudan, Opinion Articles, Opinion Writers

By Jok WaMonychok Juba, South Sudan

Saturday, November 17, 2018 (PW) —- In reference to the United Nations Security Council(UNSC) ‘s Resolution on Abyei, I would like to shade light on fundamental contents of the document. At first I was confused on what to call it; extension of United Nations Interim Security Forces for Abyei (UNISFA) mandate or the autonomy granting a self-rule for Abyei until the final status is determined. My mom called me late last night to congratulate me saying we are celebrating the resolution which grants Abyei an autonomy. I had to tell her what I have read is different and the document was ambiguous to me. I read it again today and I am compelled to highlight some points here.

First and foremost, I am delighted and fairly made hopeful by the steps taken by UNISFA and UNSC in turning their eyes and hearts to the sweltering suffering of Ngok-Dinka of Abyei. As written by the Secretary General in the letter of 20 August 2018(S/ 2018/778) taking note of security situation in the area as criminal in nature considering nonexistence of military threats though there is a presence of Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) in Kech, ignorantly referred to as Diffra and the South Sudan security personnels in the area, the security has taken the center stage of UNISFA’s mandate. The insecurity being described as criminal in nature still remains a threat to the civil population and thus demands draconian measures to quell the threat.

As of now, economic activities and development have been derailed by this so-called criminal in nature threat. However, a light at the end of the tunnel remains glowing tremendously with full authorization of all necessary measures to protect civilians by UNISFA regardless of whoever is imposing the violence as per UNISFA mandate under paragraph 3 of resolution 1990(2011). It further reiterates the confiscation and destruction of any weapon found in the area as Abyei falls under Safe Demilitarized Border Zone (SDBZ). And considers the security situation within and along the borders of Sudan and South Sudan as threat to the peace and security of the world. On the other hand, Abyei Police Service will come into force immediately. The appointment of Civil Deputy Head of the Mission signals a positive move towards having our Abyei back.

The other content of the resolution is the imminent report of the African Union Security Council (AUSC) of the investigation into the killing of the Ngok-Dinka Chief, Kuol Deng Kuol(Kuol-Adol). We have been deprived of a leader, father, brother and above all the man of the people. We will be at least relieved to know why he was killed.

On the final status of Abyei, much remains to be seen as both parties are not making promising attempts to settle the case; and the resolution warns that any violent attempt to settle the case will be punished severely citing Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) as a tool to determine the final status of Abyei. This echoes my frequent argument supporting President Kiir ‘s statement that Sudan and South Sudan will not go back to war because of Abyei. However, both parties should keep it in mind that this extension is the final unless the parties demonstrate a promising step to the final status of Abyei.

This is the cornerstone of the resolution as the experience of the past seven years has taught us that the two parties cannot come to an agreement relieving the people of Abyei from this status of being the anvil of conflict. The lack of balance of power between the two parties remains a threat to any negotiation. South Sudan remains pitiable to Sudan ‘s malicious and nefarious support of rebels and militias, and with it recently nurturing the peace agreement, South Sudan will remain a steering wheel and of course a purported state for a considerable long period of time in the hands of Sudan.

On the other hand, South Sudan will not let go of Abyei easily but it will be dilly-dallying the process of settling the final status of Abyei until it can flex its muscles and shrugs off it’s dependence on Sudan. At least the fact that UNISFA will recognize Juba appointed administration for Abyei is a positive achievement delivered to Juba in a silver plate. This is a clear indication that the world recognizes Abyei as belonging to the South Sudan. Sudan on the hand is allowed to continue siphoning the Kech oil, an indication that Sudan clings to Abyei for resources.

In regard to the future of Abyei, we now know more than before where it will end. The outstanding point of hope for the people of Abyei and South Sudan is the immortality of CPA. As reiterated by the resolution, the final status of Abyei will be determined by the Abyei Protocol which defines Abyei as a land of Nine Ngok-Dinka Chiefdoms which was transferred to Kurdufan in 1905 by British Administration and which will be decided in a plebiscite on whether they remain in Sudan or join the South. We have seen what happened in 2013 Abyei Unilateral Referendum in which 99.9% of the population voted in favor of joining the South.

This remains one of the positive moves which we hope to be replaced if possible with a more favorable one. The Abyei Boundary Commission through Hague Arbitration defines the borders of Abyei. The recent join statement by Ngok-Dinka and Misseria elders recognizes Abyei as the land of Ngok-Dinka with Misseria to enjoy pastoral rights during specific seasons of the year. Those within Abyei society who stick to ad hominems to philosopise that we are divided are wrong. We lack leaders to drive us to the Promised Land.

I always talk about how the communal rivalry should take a back seat before we confront the task at hand. In number, during 2013 referendum, only fifteen people voted in favor of joining Sudan out of which almost all of them confessed in tears. We blame it on mistake due to illiteracy. Those of us who feel Abyei is a thorn in our flesh do not view any brother and sister as a rival or enemy that needs to blackened.

The developmental projects that are reiterated by the resolution also cast a light on very fundamental rights of every society. There’s an urgent need to direct all the necessary resources to the area in order to facilitate the return of the displaced. The estimated 182,000 people in the area remain susceptible to many social deficiencies. The population of Ngok-Dinka is roughly a million people and if the resolution is implemented, huge number of people is expected to influx resulting into inadequate healthcare, clean water, schools, infrastructure, power, rule of law etc. Roads have to be connected to the neighbouring states to allow for free movement of people and goods.

Finally, the sons and daughters of Abyei must come out of their hiding comfort zones and see out the activities directed towards the stabilization and determination of the cause of struggle for Abyei people. I have been met with many arguments in debates on Abyei by other South Sudanese who say the sons and daughters of Abyei fought so hard to liberate South Sudan.

But today, they are very complacent considering the comfort and luxury given to them by South Sudan that they forget that Abyei remains undetermined. This time, we have to know that every citizen of South Sudan has a specific place of origin in South Sudan. Many, including politicians and intellectuals have called us foreigners or Arabs because of the fact that our map is not in South Sudan. Let’s go home and sacrifice once again.

Long Live Ngok-Dinka

Long Live Abyei

The Struggle continues 💪💪💪💪💪💪💪💪💪

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 Media (PW) website. If you want to submit an opinion article, commentary or news analysis, please email it to paanluel2011@gmail.com. PaanLuel Wël Media (PW) website do reserve the right to edit or reject material before publication. Please include your full name, a short biography, email address, city and the country you are writing from.


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