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Sudan’s ‘Hemeti’ condemns deadly attack in Abyei

January 24 - 2020 ABYEI / KHARTOUM / JUBA
Victims of the attack on Kolom in the disputed region of Abyei (Social media)
Victims of the attack on Kolom in the disputed region of Abyei (Social media)

Lt Gen Mohamed Hamdan ‘Hemeti’, deputy chairman of Sudan’s Sovereign Council and commander of the Rapid Support Forces, condemned the attack in Kolom village in the Abyei region in which 32 people were killed. The governor of Abyei, Akon Akol, accused the Sudan Armed Forces of the violent assault.

In a meeting with the South Sudanese President Salva Kiir in Juba Hemeti called the attack “an act of sabotage against the peace process taking place in Juba”. Hemeti is the head of the Sudanese government delegation at the peace talks. The oil-rich Abyei region is disputed since the secession of South Sudan from Sudan in 2011.

Hemeti conveyed an oral message from the chairman of the Sovereign Council, Abdelfattah El Burhan, to President Salva Kiir related to the events in Abyei and the efforts of the Sudanese government to contain its effects. He urged to find a mechanism to protect the people of the region by forming joint forces stationed near the area.

Hemeti held the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) responsible for the accident, “as it is responsible for protecting the people of the demilitarised zone where there are no military forces”. He called upon UNISFA it to play its role in protecting the people.

In the attack 32 people were killed, 25 wounded and 15 children under the age of 10 have been kidnapped. Tabisa Chol, member of the Abyei Legislative Council, told Radio Dabanga that there are children, women and elderly among the dead and wounded. About 100 families from Kolom fled to the town of Abyei, Tabisa said.

Abyei Legislative Council

The Abyei Legislative Council strongly condemned the events of Kolom village in a statement yesterday, calling it “brutal and barbaric”. The council held the UNISFA mission responsible for the attack and for the safe return of the kidnapped children.

The council called on the government of South Sudan to condemn the events, classify the perpetrators as terrorists, replace the soldiers of the UNISFA mission with soldiers from other nationalities and form a commission to investigate the events.

The council also called on the government of Sudan to hold accountable and prosecute the perpetrators of the massacre, and to immediately withdraw the Sudanese forces located outside the Abyei area.

Joint investigation

Khartoum and Juba both stated their relations will not be sabotaged because of the unfortunate events in Abyei. They announced the formation of a joint investigation committee and a coordination committee to protect the people of Abyei.

In a press statement following the meeting of Sudan’s Sovereign Council in the Republican Palace at noon on Thursday, spokesperson Mohamed El Faki announced that the Sovereign Council accepted the resignation of Ahmed Salih Saloha, the chairman of the Supervisory Committee of Abyei. He urged all parties in the region to consult in order to appoint a new chairman and to work and care for the people of the region.

He also said that the Sovereign Council holds the UNISFA mission fully responsible for the deteriorating security situation in the region.

Border dispute

Since the secession of South Sudan from Sudan in 2011, both countries claim the border area of Abyei. The region is inhabited primarily by members of the South Sudanese Dinka Ngok clan. It is also the seasonal home of the Sudanese Arab Misseriya herder tribe.

The Abyei status referendum, in which the residents of the region would decide either to remain part of Sudan or become part of South Sudan, was planned to be held simultaneously to the South Sudanese independence referendum in January 2011, but was postponed indefinitely because of disagreements over the process.

In October 2013, an informal referendum was held, in which only the Dinka participated. The Misseriya boycotted the vote. It turned out that 99.9 per cent of the voters considered Abyei a part of South Sudan.

 


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