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Abyei dispute: Sudan ‘to withdraw troops’

Sudan will begin pulling its troops out of the disputed border region of Abyei on Tuesday, an army spokesman has said.

Abyei is claimed by both Sudan and South Sudan, which became independent in 2011 after a long civil war. Sudan’s forces seized Abyei in May 2011.

Its status was left undecided in the 2005 peace deal between the sides, and a referendum on the issue has been postponed indefinitely.

Peace talks between the two states are scheduled to begin on Tuesday.

In the talks due to be held in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, the two countries are expected to cover several border disputes that have caused friction, including Abyei.

Sudan has decided to redeploy its troops out of Abyei in order to “offer a good environment for the talks”, military spokesman Sawarmi Khaled Saad said in a statement quoted by the AFP news agency.

He said Khartoum was responding to a request from the talks’ mediator, former South African President Thabo Mbeki.

‘Guarantee’

It has also asked for a “guarantee” recognising that Abyei is part of its territory, the spokesman added.

Analysis

James Copnall BBC News, Khartoum

The Sudanese military spokesman avoided the word “withdrawal” – “redeployment” sounds so much less like a defeat.

Certainly, if the Sudanese troops do leave Abyei – and many in South Sudan will be sceptical until it actually happens – Khartoum will negotiate from a weaker position.

But the Sudanese leadership is clearly hoping to burnish its reputation with this decision, which comes the day before a meeting in which progress – or not – on the African Union’s roadmap is to be evaluated.

There is also the prospect of UN sanctions for any failure to make real progress in the negotiations.

There are strong feelings in both countries about Abyei.

The Misseriya, a Sudanese group, take their cattle through the region every year.

The Dinka Ngok, the permanent residents of the area, want Abyei to be part of South Sudan.

But even if from now on the only troops in Abyei are UN peacekeepers, the underlying problem of how to decide its future remains.

On Sunday, former US President Jimmy Carter said after meeting Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir that Khartoum was ready to pull its forces out of Abyei.

Tens of thousands of civilians were displaced when the Sudanese army took control of the region in three days of clashes with South Sudanese troops in May 2011.

The dispute in Abyei is rooted in ethnic conflict between farmers from the pro-South Sudan Dinka Ngok community and the pro-Sudan Misseriya nomads.

In April, cross-border clashes centred on the neighbouring oil-rich region of Heglig brought Sudan and South Sudan close to all-out war.

South Sudan says Sudanese warplanes bombed several locations on its border, although Khartoum denies this.

The same month, the South’s troops occupied Heglig for a week. It said it pulled out in response to international pressure, but Sudan said it reconquered the territory.

The UN Security Council has called on both countries to cease all bombing and cross-border fighting, and to return to talks aimed at resolving their outstanding disputes.

Security is a key issue, and one that Sudan says must be resolved before anything else, the BBC’s James Copnall in Khartoum reports.

Outstanding issues also include oil and the situation of the estimated half a million South Sudanese still living in Sudan, our correspondent says.

But the level of distrust between the two sides is considerable, and rapid progress on the many areas of substantial disagreement is unlikely, he adds.

Sudan: A country divided
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Map showing position of oilfileds in Sudan, source: Drilling info international

Both Sudan and the South are reliant on their oil revenues, which account for 98% of South Sudan’s budget. But the two countries cannot agree how to divide the oil wealth of the former united state. Some 75% of the oil lies in the South but all the pipelines run north. It is feared that disputes over oil could lead the two neighbours to return to war.”
Source; BBC News

Troops capture Kony crony

Uganda troops

Hunt for Kony: Ugandan soldiers patrol on through the central African jungle during an operation to fish out notorious Lord’s Resistance Army leader Joseph Kony. Picture: AFP Source: AFP

UGANDAN troops have captured a senior member of notorious rebel leader Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army.

Caesar Acellam, considered the LRA’s fourth-highest ranking member, was arrested by Ugandan forces in Central African Republic and was flown yesterday to the South Sudanese headquarters of the regional armies hunting the LRA.

“My coming out will have a big impact for the people still in the bush to come out and end this war soon,” Mr Acellam told reporters who were taken to the Central African Republic to see the rebel in custody.

The Ugandan army is leading a US-backed African Union force tasked with capturing the LRA’s leaders, several of whom are wanted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

Mr Acellam, aged 49, a tall man walking with a limp from an old wound, was flown to the base in the South Sudanese town of Nzara, at the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo, for medical check-ups.

Mr Acellam was captured on Saturday and made available a day later at a Uganda army camp to confirm his arrest following a brief firefight near the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“The general of the division, Caesar Acellam, who has fought in the jungle since 1984, is from now on in the hands of the Ugandan Army,” Mr Acellam told reporters, referring to himself in the third person.

The LRA’s top three commanders are Okot Odhiambo, Dominic Ongwen and Mr Kony. All are at large and wanted by the International Criminal Court along with another man, Vincent Otti, who is however thought to be dead.

“He’s a big fish,” Ugandan army spokesman Felix Kulayigye said of Acellam, who was captured along with a Ugandan woman, a Central African teenager and a baby. None of them was hurt in the arrest.

“The fact that Caesar Acellam is prisoner is a major step for us towards ending the rebellion,” Mr Kulayigye said.

Ugandan army units had reportedly waited in ambush for three weeks for the rebel after they tracked his group of around 30 fighters, army sources said.

However, Mr Acellam split from his men a few days ago, for reasons that were not immediately clear. He surrendered after the army fired a few shots.

Mr Kony started his rebellion in northern Uganda more than two decades ago, but has since been chased to the jungles of neighbouring central African states.

The LRA has since been wreaking havoc in the Central African Republic, South Sudan, Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Mr Kony’s global notoriety soared over the past year through internet video campaign “Kony 2012” which has been watched tens of millions of times since it was posted online by the US advocacy group Invisible Children.

The video was criticised by some who said it oversimplified the root causes of the LRA’s devastating insurgency.

Mr Kony is wanted by the ICC for rape, mutilation and murder of civilians, as well as forcibly recruiting children to serve as soldiers and sex slaves.

A multi-national force, led by Uganda and helped by 100 US Special Forces, has been chasing Mr Kony in Uganda, Central African Republic, South Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo.

Joseph Balikudembe, commander in chief of the Uganda operation, recently said the combination of US military aid, the weakening of the LRA and Kampala’s efforts in hunting them would lead to their elimination.

The ICC’s chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said on May 10 that Mr Kony would be captured or killed this year, although he did not specify why he felt the elusive rebel leader would finally be found.

A day later, a top UN envoy said hunters were closing in on the African guerrilla leader who may now be in Darfur.

Source :Daily Telegraph Australia

 

Sudan vows to end fighting with South Sudan

Children carry their family's belongings as they go to Yida refugee camp in South Sudan outside Tess village in the Nuba Mountains in South Kordofan, 2 May 2012
Thousands of people have fled their homes as a result of the fighting

Sudan has promised to cease hostilities with South Sudan and comply with a UN Security Council resolution.

However the foreign ministry also said that Khartoum reserved the right to respond to “aggression” from the South.

The statement came hours after Juba alleged fresh bombing by the Khartoum government’s forces.

A UN resolution on Wednesday backed an African Union plan demanding both sides cease hostilities, amid fears of an all-out war between the neighbours.

The Security Council called for a written commitment by both governments within 48 hours, and threatened sanctions if its terms were not met.

The South has already said it accepts the terms of the roadmap.

The BBC’s James Copnall in Khartoum says that both sides appear to have been brought back to the negotiating table, but tension is still high.

In a statement, a foreign ministry spokesman said Sudan would “fully commit to what has been issued in the resolution about stopping hostilities with South Sudan according to the time limits issued”.

It added that it hoped the “other party will commit to stop the hostilities completely and withdraw its troops from the disputed areas so as not to put SAF [Sudanese Armed Forces] in a situation where it has to defend itself”.

Under the roadmap, the two countries have until next Tuesday to restart negotiations and three months to reach an agreement.

Our correspondent says that while both countries have now committed themselves to the roadmap, they have also accused each other of new attacks.

In its statement, he says, Sudan pointed out the numerous ways in which it considers it has been attacked by South Sudan in the last few days.

Meanwhile, South Sudan said that Sudanese warplanes had bombed a military position in Unity state, and said that there had also been a ground attack.

The latest crisis began last month when the south seized a disputed oil field at Heglig.

Disputes over the sharing of oil revenue is a major cause of conflict between Juba and Khartoum.

South Sudan took most of the oil reserves when it seceded in July 2011, but relies on pipelines to seaports in Sudan for distribution.

The South seceded from Sudan as part of a 2005 peace treaty following two decades of civil war in which some 1.5m people died.

 

Show regions
Map showing position of oilfileds in Sudan, source: Drilling info international

Both Sudan and the South are reliant on their oil revenues, which account for 98% of South Sudan’s budget. But the two countries cannot agree how to divide the oil wealth of the former united state. Some 75% of the oil lies in the South but all the pipelines run north. It is feared that disputes over oil could lead the two neighbours to return to war.

Source- BBC  News

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