Title: Adding insult to injury through promoting a new round of hostilities
Author: Abdul-Karim G. Elgoni
Date: 09-12-2013, 03:51 PM
Adding insult to injury through promoting a new round of hostilities
Dr Abdul-Karim G. Elgoni
The conflict in Abyei is in the news again and we have to tell the story from the beginning. The Messeiria Arabs arrived to a no-man's land in 1770 and continued living there and their chief Abu Nafeesa was buried south of Abyei of today. Dinka Ngok were pushed from their lands in the lakes region and found refuge and prosperity with Messeiria Arabs who interceded with Imam Almahdi to release their captives for Chief Biong. They lived happily ever after until ANANYA decided to attack the Messeiria in 1965 and Messeiria retaliated and innocent Messeiria and Dinka died, but all solved within the tribal peace accords. The disasters increased when SPLA/M and NCP discovered the oil and needed it without Messeiria and Dinka. Using proxies, they escalated the hostilities on both sides and more people died in the last twenty years than in the last two hundred years of coexistence.
Then came the Sudan Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) introducing the Abyei Protocol providing for a referendum to determine the final status of the Abyei area and to establish Abyei Boundaries Commission (ABC) to define and demarcate the area of the nine Ngok Dinka chiefdoms that was transferred in 1905 from Bahr Elghazal Province to Messeiria District in Kordofan Province, as it stated.
The rejection of ABC report by both Government of Sudan and Messeiria tribe of the Abyei area led to the international arbitration at The Hague that rejected the ABC demarcation and redefined the Abyei Boundaries almost 54 percent less than the area defined by the ABC. This showed that the ABC team meddled in the two tribes' affairs to create more friction and enmity to destroy the friendly relationships that lasted for more than two hundred years. The joint (Sudan-South Sudan) Abyei Referendum Commission responsible for the referendum was not established because of hurdles put by South Sudan Government insisting on its chairmanship, hence the referendum of Abyei did not take place simultaneously with that of Southern Sudan on 9th July 2011 as stipulated in the CPA. The Temporary Arrangements for the Administration and Security of the Abyei Area providing for a process for resolving the final status of Abyei was agreed as part of a Roadmap, but its institutions were not formed as South Sudan Government was not interested in institutions that include Messeiria. Sudan appointed its co-chair of the Abyei Joint Oversight Committee, Al-Khair Al-Fahim, and selected its members for the institutions. South Sudan appointed Dr Biong then replaced him by Edward Lino but no naming of the institutions members. Last week Edward Lino said they will carry out the referendum without Messeiria or Sudan Government. On the other side Al-Khair Al-Fahim said in agreement with AU, the Abyei referendum will not be held and that the region is still subject to the 2004 Abyei Protocol in the CPA and the Abyei Agreement for Administrative and Security Arrangement signed in June 2011. Abyei is in a stalemate.
Since South Sudan Government refused to observe the assurances in the CPA, ABC and the Hague agreements that Messeiria nomads have rights to move in the area, Messeiria became suspicious, especially when they lost thousands of cattle and human life in search of grazing for their cattle. There were several sporadic conflicts and insurgencies. The Messeiria are also suspicious of the Ethiopian UN army in Abyei who allowed the killing of Messeiria friend, Abyei Paramount Chief Kual Deng Kual and 13 Messeiria in May this year, giving the impression that Messeiria killed the Chief and refusing till now to provide the report on the incidence, because it will bring the truth that will set Messeiria free of the accusation and tell about who killed the Chief.
The Abyei referendum is part of a legal process of the agreements signed by both the Sudan and South Sudan. As South Sudan insisted on going for a referendum unilaterally then Sudan need to prepare for a referendum on its own and do as South Sudan did by granting the displaced people of Abyei Messeiria and Ngok Dinka who fled to Sudan because of the security situation and non-availability of services paid leave. It should provide transport and bring them from Western Kordofan and Khartoum and other States in Sudan. This would prevent Messeiria taking the law in their-own hands as Dinka Ngok did according to Edward Lino.
I reiterate that Dinka Ngok and Messeiria need a developmental win-win solution that is agreed upon locally and supported politically by national and international powers. They need a solution that makes inroads into poverty. Let us all support a developmental win-win solution that can bring relief to the people from hostilities, support a solution that brings in developmental agencies to promote coexistence and establish projects that create jobs and keep the youth busy in positive talk.
Regardless of whether Abyei stays north, goes south or becomes a separate entity, it should be a developed area where people coexist in peace.