Spokesman for the South Sudanese army has accused Khartoum of complicity in the assassination of Kuol Deng Kuol, paramount chief of the Ngok Dinka, by Misseriya gunmen in the disputed area of Abyei ten days ago.
Kuol Deng Kuol was killed as he travelled with other officials and tribal leaders of the Ngok Dinka under escort by a convoy of the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA), the Ethiopian peacekeeping force in Abyei. The attack resulted in the deaths of two Ethiopian peacekeepers as well.
The Sudanese Foreign Ministry reported that 17 Misseriya fighters, widely accused of initiating the attack, were also killed.
Spokesman Philip Aguer told Radio Dabanga that those who killed the paramount chief are part of Khartoum’s security apparatus: “Anyone who has a weapon in the State of North Sudan carries it on behalf of the security authorities in Khartoum,” he said. “The Mujahedeen and the members of the Popular Defence Forces are now officially registered with the General Command of the Sudanese Armed Forces.”
With regard to the unresolved situation in Abyei, Aguer accused the Khartoum regime of “arousing the situation by moving military equipment to the region and increasing the number of troops stationed in Nama, Defra and all other border areas with the Republic of South Sudan”.
The contested, oil-rich region of Abyei was originally due to hold a referendum to coincide with that of South Sudan in 2011. However, insecurity stemming from disagreements on voter eligibility between the resident Dinka Ngok and the nomadic Misseriya groups resulted in postponement.
The African Union, who recently mediated in the implementation of a series of cooperation agreements, are behind proposals to hold a referendum on the region’s future this year.
Reporting by Radio Tamazuj and Radio Dabanga
Photo: Sultan Kuol Deng Kuol being interviewed in Abyei, March 2013 (Radio Tamazuj)