Sudan has demanded that the United Nations to replace the Ethiopian soldiers deployed in the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) in the disputed Abyei* region on the Sudan-South Sudan border with other soldiers, because “it is not reasonable to have Ethiopian forces in the strategic depth of Sudan at a time when the Ethiopian forces are gathering on the eastern borders of Sudan,” Minister of Foreign Affairs Maryam El Sadig El Mahdi has confirmed.
Speaking to reporters in Khartoum, El Mahdi affirmed that “Ethiopia has shown unacceptable intransigence in the Renaissance Dam negotiations and that its decision to fill the Renaissance Dam again is contrary to international law.”
Minister El Mahdi also referred to “the Ethiopian encroachment on the eastern borders,” underlining that “there are great interests for Ethiopia in Sudan that must be preserved.”
The popular leadership of the Abyei area have echoed El Mahdi’s call for the removal of Ethiopian troops from UNISFA, asserting that “they are no longer keeping security there and have become an element for instability and insecurity”.
The Secretary General of West Kordofan Development Alliance Abdelhameed Mansour said at the Sudan News Agency (SUNA) Press Forum that forces of the People’s Army of South Sudan had attacked Abyei area on April 2, killing seven persons and looting thousands of cattle.
Mansour called on the transitional government to move to protect the citizens of Abyei and their properties, voicing their support to the decision of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, calling for removal of the international forces from Abyei area.
The Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources, Yasir Abbas, stressed that all options remain open to Sudan on the issue of the Renaissance Dam, including the resort to the UN Security Council.
In a press conference at SUNA on Wednesday following his participation at the fruitless negotiations in Kinshasa on the issue of Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), Abbas warned that the filling of Renaissance Dam without agreement will directly threaten Sudan and endanger the lives of 20 million citizens living below the dam, adding that “this statement is not a matter of propaganda and media exaggeration, but rather a description of the facts”.
He affirmed Sudan’s firm position, which calls for amendment of the negotiation methodology, which should lead to a legal and binding agreement for all parties and without procrastination in order to gain time, as Ethiopia is doing.
He explained that Sudan has called for the participation of South Africa, the European Union, and the United Nations, along with the African Union within the framework of a quartet mediation group, that is headed by the African Union, in order to expand the basis of participation of friendly countries to demonstrate seriousness of the situation that Sudan is facing due to the filling of the Renaissance Dam without prior agreement.
He denied that Ethiopia had exposed to Sudan a bilateral agreement in any form.
On the measures to alleviate the impacts of a sudden filling of the dam, the minister stated that one billion cubic meters will be reserved behind the Rozaires Dam to compensate any shortage in the water supplies in the Blue Nile to meet the basic needs of the agricultural sector and the drinking water.
He added that the precautionary measures also include the emptying of Jebel Awlia Dam and preserving one third of the storage capacity of the dam to avoid any water cuts in the main Nile sector up to Atbara River.
Abyei is the traditional homeland of the Ngok Dinka, who have with strong ties with the South Sudanese Dinka tribe. Herders of the Misseriya, a northern Arab tribe, traverse Abyei and other North-South border areas with their cattle in search of water and pasture in the dry season and to trade goods.
The region witnesses many cases of cattle rustling, hijacks, and other robberies. There is no government or police force in the area and a UN peacekeeping mission, UNISFA, is entrusted with overseeing demilitarisation and maintaining security in the area.