Sunday, January 16, 2011

Southern Sudan votes, but not oil rich Abyei

Sudan's oil rich Abyei Territory did not vote
with the rest of Southern Sudan this week because
North and South could not agree on who would
be allowed to vote.

KPFA Weekend News Host Rose Ketabchi:
The Southern Sudanese people finished voting in their referendum on independence today.  A new African nation, Southern Sudan is expected to emerge as a result. However, the people of Sudan's hotly contested, oil rich region of Abyei did not vote with the rest of the South this week.  KPFA's Ann Garrison reports.

KPFA/Ann Garrison:
Fighting began in the Abyei Territory, on the border of what are expected to become North and South Sudan, before the rest of the Southern Sudanese people began voting on independence last Sunday. Seventy-six people were reported dead as the fighting continued this week. Before the South began voting, Omar al-Bashir told Aljazeera that he would not accept Abyei's independence from the North:

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir:
We will not accept Abyei to be part of the South. If any party takes any independent action over Abyei that would be the beginning of a conflict. That's why we say that the status quo in Abyei remains unchanged, with the same administration and components, until we reach a solution.

KPFA:
The Abyei Territory is an area of 4,038 square miles accorded special administrative status by the Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended the Second Sudanese Civil War in 2005. It is not only oil rich but also very fertile agricultural land. The Dinka Ngoc farming people, who are aligned with the South, are Abyei's majority inhabitants, but the nomadic Misseriya herdsmen, aligned with the North, have grazing rights and Abyei is considered a historical bridge between North and South Sudan.

Mugume Rwakaringi, the Managing Editor of Nile Fortune, is the author of the magazine's November-December cover story "Why Abyei Oil Will Make or Break South Sudan Independence?" "On the map of Sudan itself, Abyei is a mere spot in the middle of the country," he wrote, "but because of its oil reserves, its importance is far beyond its size. Abyei is Sudan’s main oil producing region and by 2003, was responsible for over one-third of Sudan’s crude oil production.

Rwakaringi spoke to KPFA and AfrobeatRadio from Juba, the capitol of Southern Sudan:

Mugume Rwakaringi:
Concerning the reaction of the Sudanese people, if the Abyei people are not allowed to vote: If the Abyei issue is not resolved, then you would expect no stability in this region. That's why the Abyei is of concern for every Sudanese. They all want the Abyei crisis resolved. That's when they would be assured of stability in their country, be it the North or the South.

KPFA:
In NBC Dateline's December 3rd "Winds of War" report, NBC host Ann Curry asked UN Ambassador Susan Rice whether she will consider intervention by a multilateral military force if war breaks out again. Rice responded that she would not rule out anything.

For Pacifica, KPFA and AfrobeatRadio, this is Ann Garrison.

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