Recommendation to Overcome Abyei CPA’s Stalemate
By Dr James Okuk
“Never betray the truth because it is the ever surest path to genuine freedom”
According to the summary of the The Resolution of the Abyei Conflict (2004) in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), the Abyei Area will be accorded special administrative status during the interim period, following the definition of the Abyei areas by the Abyei Border Commission (ABC). Unfortunately the ABC finding couldn’t find its ways into the heart of the Sudanese Presidency and as a result the formation of the Abyei Special Administration was delayed, but thank God, it was established later with SPLM in the lead and NCP as the deputy Administrator. Also according to the CPA, Abyei Area will have representation in the legislature of Southern Kordofan and Warap states. Wealth-sharing of oil revenues from Abyei is to be split between the north and south (50:42) with small percentages of revenues allocated to other states and ethnic groups: 2% each to: the Ngok Dinka people, the Misseriyya people, Bahr al-Ghazal (Warap) state, and 1% each to Southern Kordofan State (SKS) and the Western Kordofan sub-state component of SKS. These provisions have been implemented well, though.
However, because of the duplicity nature of the Resolution of the Abyei Conflict in the CPA, quarrels and suspicions by the politicians internally and interests groups internationally have carried the order of the days, since. This became a complicating factor for a full implementation of the CPA in Abyei. The ABC was the first victim of the hidden agenda within the Abyei’s CPA provisions as they overstepped the mandate and went a head to finalize their borders findings without seeking permission from the Sudan presidency first.
Thus, the issue ended up in The Hague for the PCA to judge. Indeed it was found out that the ABC committed some errors in its report. The PCA judges fixed the errors by detaching the areas that were wrongly annexed to Abyei but also without specifying where those areas should belong to thereafter. Taking into account the 1/1/1956 borders of the South and the North of the Sudan, it is known that the so-called Heglig (originally “Panthou”) belongs to the Panarou Dinka section of the Unity state (Western Upper Nile in SPLM’s nomenclature). The smoke of the fire of the quarrels over this misappropriated south Sudan area has started coming out and it could be one of the South-North’s Kashmir in near future.
The CPA stipulates that at the end of the six-year interim period, Abyei residents will vote in a referendum either to maintain special administrative status in the north or to become part of Warap State in the south (See, Article 1.3, Chapter Five of the Resolution of the Abyei Conflict, 26th May, 2004): “Simultaneously with the referendum for southern Sudan, the residents of Abyei will cast a separate ballot/ The proposition voted on in the separate ballot will present the residents of Abyei with the following choices, irrespective of the results o southern referendum: a. The Abyei retain its special administration status in the north; b. The Abyei be part of Bahr el Ghazal.” But previously in article 1.1.2 of the same resolution, it is stipulated that: “The territory is defines as the area of the nine Ngok Dinka chiefdoms transferred to Kordofan in 1905;” and also article 1.1.3 stipulates: “The Misseriya and other nomadic peoples retain their traditional rights to graze cattle and move across the territory of Abyei.”
This is where the duplicity I am talking about here lies because how could it be said that the Abyei’s territory belongs to Ngok Dinka only but at the same time the Misseriya have the grazing rights in it? Why should somebody be given a right to have his cattle’s in another’s house if that house cannot be called his house too? How can you say also that the residents who live in Abyei have the right to vote in the referendum, but at the same time you say it should be the Nine Ngok Dinka Chiefdoms only to practice this right?
In 2007 when I was still immersed in the library of Nairobi University as a PhD student interested in analyzing the difficulties that were encountering the CPA implementation, especially the Abyei protocol, I wrote a recommendation article to the SPLM leadership titled "Should Salva Kiir Betray the Greater South Sudan to Please the Abyei Ngok Dinka?" In that article I recommended that the SPLM leadership should not sacrifice the greatest South Sudan for the sake of the smallest Abyei Area with its said status of floating on lake of oil.
Also I recommended to the Abyei Ngok Dinka's Nine Chiefdoms to play the game in a smart manner without arrogance because after all they have become intimate brothers and sisters with the Misseriya to the extent that a good number of them were educated by Misseriya’s parents and named as Ahmed(s), Mohamed(s), Ali(s), ant etc. Not only this, but also when I read Ambassador Dr. Francis Deng Mading's novel " The Cry of the Owl", I found out that most of the Abyei Ngok Dinka are very grateful to the intimate links they have had with the Misseriya within the unity of the Sudan; it is only very few of them who are against the Misseriya’s rights and duties in Abyei Area.
Even after the PCA ruling, the Abyei Ngok Dinka's gentlemen in Juba in presence of H.E. Salva Kiir called the Misseriya traditional leaders for a meeting in order to assure them that despite the court ruling the Ngok Dinka and Misseriyah remains one people of Abyei Area with all their duties and rights reserved. Now I am surprised why the SPLM is trying to disown the Misseriya in the Addis Ababa's negotiation rooms with the so-called American mediation and proposal? Who can be hoodwinked that the said proposal is American when it was designed by few Abyei's greedy Ngok Dinka's gentlemen themselves, and the Americans are only involved for pressure on the NCP and threat to the Misseriya?
However, that pressure/threat is not working like the one of Naivasha, Kenya when the CPA was pushed on the throats of the partners. Now, the Misseriyah have spoken categorically that either they are allowed to be part of the Abyei’s referendum process and decision or they are ready for war with any enforcer (even with American Marines) on the voting rights for the Abyei Areas' destiny. This means “genocide” field is ready in Abyei if the issue is not handles prudently.
If I were the Ngok Dinka of Abyei, I would call the Misseriya for a reconciliation meeting far from the SPLM, NCP and US politicians of interests, and agree on what can be done together as one people of Abyei Area without pushing anyone aside. Somebody who says the Misseriya are Arabs does not know the history of the Sudan or is just soliloquizing. Africanness can be witnessed in the shape of the Misseriya's hair and skin composition; they don't have soft and curl hair that is known of the the slight skinned biological Arabs. Even the accent of the Misseriya's spoken Arabic language is just like that of the Nuba, Fur and Zaghawa. Surely, the Misseriya people are black Africans if we take out the Arabic indoctrination (socialization status) in them. They are Muslims, yes. But also they have managed to convert most of the Abyei Ngok Dinka into Islam. Today the majority of the Ngok Dinka nine chiefdoms living in Abyei Area and some parts of Northern Sudan are Muslims. Not to shy mentioning, the biggest building in Abyei town is a Muslims' Mosque; not Christians' Church.
The Misseriya and the Ngok Dinka have no grave problems amongst themselves except negative excretion (call it fitna in Arabic) of the politicians. Thus, the only peaceful solution is to let both the Ngok Dinka and the Misseriyah decide the destiny of Abyei Area as one African people without marginalizing any one. If the greed and fear is taken off the way of the Abyei Area’s negotiations, I don’t have any doubt that the stalemate could get resolved with within a week. This is my take and I hope it will fall into the right ears of the decision-makers. Let's not be greedy with no solidarity as this is never African in essence!!!
Dr James Okuk can be reached on [email protected]