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Of the many issues left to be worked out between North and South Sudan before secession, the question of citizenship is one of the most personal and, among those with strong links to both North and South, urgent. The northern and southern governments are currently locked in discussions over a host of issues that will face the two countries and their citizens, and, given the high stakes, the talks have transpired largely out of the public eye. Absent public reassurances from the NCP or the SPLM, many Sudanese remain in the dark about their legal status and rights after the split.
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.
Yesterday marked the day when the African Union High Level Implementation Panel had hoped the two Sudanese ruling parties would reach an agreement on the status of Abyei.
Under the Comprehensive Peace Agreement which ended the North-South civil war, residents of this volatile border region should have been given the right to decide whether Abyei should be administered by the northern or southern government through a referendum. That option has been discarded by international mediators who are now working toward an agreement on Abyei’s status through high-level negotiations with the Sudanese and South Sudanese Presidents Omar al-Bashir and Salva Kiir.
Testimony collected through interviews conducted by Enough among displaced Ngok Dinka communities in the region illustrate the human impact of the ongoing stalemate over Abyei. The interviews also demonstrate pervasiveness of the perception among Ngok Dinka that SAF forces and allied militias, acting on orders of the northern government, are intent on eliminating them – if not by killing them, then by forcing them off the land for good. These fears reveal just how far trust has deteriorated in Abyei, raising the likelihood of continued conflict.
A key democratic process in the volatile Sudanese border state of Blue Nile has suffered from manipulation by the two ruling Sudanese parties, the Carter Center recently warned.
The process, known as popular consultations, is mandated by the 2005 peace agreement, or CPA, that ended the North-South civil war, and is meant to ascertain whether the people of two border states, Blue Nile and South Kordofan, accept their part of the peace agreement—and the economic, security, and political arrangements included—as the final resolution of their long-standing grievances against Khartoum.