February 17, 2011 (ABYEI) – A senior official from the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) from oil-producing region of Abyei said Thursday that Abyei belongs to South Sudan and that South Sudanese should not let it remain in the North.
Miyen Alor Kuol a senior member of South Sudan’s ruling party, the SPLM, said there was “no question” that Abyei should be transfered to South Sudan. Sudan’s South is due to become independent in July.
Abyei’s population was supposed to hold a referendum to determine whether the region will remain in the North or rejoin the South but differences over who will participate in the plebiscite led to it being delayed.
The Abyei referendum was agreed as part of a 2005 peace deal between former rebels the SPLM and Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP). The most important aspect of the deal was the referendum on southern independence, which went ahead peacefully and on schedule in January, resulting in a overwhelming vote for independence.
Abyei’s referendum was supposed to occur simultaneously but the two partners of the 2005 peace agreement failed to agree on who was allowed to vote. With the SPLM rejecting the NCP demand that the Misseriya ethnic group – who enter Abyei for part of the year with their cattle – be accorded full voting rights
With the referendum delayed indefinitely the two sides have so far failed to reach a political agreement on the future of the oil-producing area. However, they have agreed to it should remain in the North but only until a solution is reached before the peace agreement ends with the South’s independence in July 2011.