AU Condemns Sudan for Obstructing Abyei Visit, Warns Against Unilateral Action

Khartoum — The African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) issued a statement on Sunday condemning the Sudanese government for preventing its planned visit to Abyei and warning against any unilateral action in the disputed areas.

UN peacekeepers from Ethiopia patrol the outskirts of the disputed Abyei town that straddles the border between Sudan and South Sudan on 16 September 2013 (Photo: Reuters/Andreea Campeanu)

The council "expresses its deep disappointment and regret that it was unable to undertake the visit to Abyei, as planned, on 26 and 27 October 2013", it said in a statement released following its 403rd meeting held Saturday.

The 15-member body said that Sudanese government did not allow the visit under the pretext of alleged security reasons stressing "the discrepancies in the analysis, by the parties, of the situation prevailing in Abyei".

"Council considers this to be an obstruction to the discharge of its responsibilities", said the strongly worded statement.

The statement further pointed out that the council considers that "those who obstructed its visit should bear full responsibility for any resulting negative development in the Area".

The African body also praised Juba for its call to the Ngok Dinka community to refrain from any unilateral actions in Abyei; and urged it "to continue to demonstrate utmost restraint".

The African body further renewed its call for Khartoum and Juba to continue their efforts to reach an agreement on the final status of the Abyei Area based the AUHIP Proposal of 21 September 2012.

"Council strongly urges the UN Security Council to extend its full support to the AUHIP Proposal, which is the best way forward in addressing the challenges at hand", the statement said.

Khartoum refused to accept the proposal made by the African Union panel headed former South African president Thabo Mbeki, stressing that the Misseriya nomads should also take part in the referendum.

However, the statement warned the parties in Abyei to refrain from taking any unilateral action that may complicate the situation and reiterated its call for "maximum restraint".

It further called on the Sudanese and South Sudanese governments to "expeditiously" establish an Abyei administration and its legislative council in line with the 20 June 2011 agreement.

The council demanded the Sudanese government "refrain from obstructing its work and extend full cooperation in support of the AU's efforts to manage and resolve the situation in Abyei".

The AUPSC plans to conduct its postponed visit to Abyei on 5 and 6 November .