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New tension in Sudan about Abyei after acceptance of referendum bill

December 30 - 2009 By Radio Dabanga -- KHARTOUM

The Misseriya from Abyei are angered by the accepted referendum bill, which will allow the people of Abyei to vote in favour or against separation from the North. The Misseriya leader and Member of Parliament, Mahdi Babu Nimr, did not exclude the option for his Arab tribe to go back to war. “I’m a general in the army, don’t pull my leg”, he warned while speaking to Radio Dabanga today.

The MPs from the Misseriya left the National Assembly in anger after the law for a popular consultation in 2011 was accepted by the vast majority. Mahdi Babu Nimr, who is also a former army Chief-of-Staff under the Mahdi government, told Radio Dabanga that he did not receive a chance to express himself in the Parliament yesterday (Tuesday) since the speaker refused to hand him the microphone.

sundan20border20dispute_largeThe referendum laws were the subject of heated discussion between the government of President Omar al Bashir (NCP) and the South headed by Vice President Salva Kiir (SPLM). The accepted bill is in accordance with an original agreement reached on the matter and will only allow displaced Southerners in the North to cast their vote in the South. The MPs from the Misseriya tribe in Abyei said that the “National Congress Party has traded Abyei for the interest of the North”. The head of the Misseriya disagrees on the fact that the Misseriya tribesmen are only allowed to vote when they live within the borders of Abyei as approved by the international arbitration court.

The Dinka Ngok spokesman in parliament, Charles Abyei, told Radio Dabanga that ‘he is happy that the law has passed the parliament. He does not understand the objections of the Misseriya “since it is implementing what had been agreed in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement” (CPA). He assures that “everybody who settles in Abyei will be allowed to vote”. The nine Dinka Ngok chiefdoms are in the majority compared to the Misseriya.

Based on the CPA, the Misseriya together with other nomadic tribes retained their traditional rights to graze cattle and to move across the territory of Abyei. The Arab tribes fear that a separation from the North will reduce their rights for grazing lands. The Misseriya were promised a 2% share in the oil revenues from the area, just as the nine Dinka chiefdoms in the same area also receive 2%. Abyei was subject for long discussion. The borders of the Abyei area have still not been confirmed by President Omar Al Bashir, rejecting the outcome of an international arbitration. The Government of National Unity and Government of Southern Sudan should have contributed fifty percent and twenty-five percent respectively from their oil revenue share from oilfields in the area for the development of the areas along the North-South border. This fund, meant to be administered by the president, has never materialized.

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