SUDAN WATCH: ABYEI, SUDAN LATEST: PCA ruled that the eastern and western borders of Abyei should be redrawn, reducing the size of the region (Update 7)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

ABYEI, SUDAN LATEST: PCA ruled that the eastern and western borders of Abyei should be redrawn, reducing the size of the region (Update 7)

The Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague has decided not to accept the boundaries as drawn up by the Abyei Boundary Commission and has ruled that the boundaries of Sudan's disputed oil-producing region of Abyei should be redrawn.

In reaction to the ruling today, Douglas Johnson, who was part of the international panel who drew up the 2005 border proposals, said the Hague agreement had respected ethnic boundaries as well as north and south rivalries.

"Each side can say they were right about something, and each side can come away feeling that they have been given something from this arrangement," he told the BBC World Service.

Speaking in the Abyei town shortly after the PCA announced its decision, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General in Sudan Ashraf Qazi underlined the importance of a clear and final resolution of Abyei's boundaries.

"Both parties have agreed that this question is now settled. I call on all involved to cooperate to implement the decision according to the plan the parties adopted in recent talks and to guarantee the long term interests of the people of the region in accordance with the PCA," he said.

He emphasized that the decision's primary practical impact would be upon the administrative definition of the Abyei Area.

"The Ngok-Dinka and Misseriya will have all the rights guaranteed to them by the PCA and the Interim Constitution, as well as all of Abyei's people," said Qazi.

Sources:  See here below, full details of initial reports following today's ruling. I am in awe of how quickly the reporters managed to produce such great reports at breakneck speed. Take a look at the quotes Reuters were able to gather.

Many thanks to Sudan Radio Service for being (as far as I know) the first to break the news this morning with this emailed report -

ABYEI LATEST from Sudan Radio Service on Wednesday, 22  July 2009:

The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague has ruled that the boundaries of Sudan's disputed oil-producing region of Abyei should be redrawn. In todays’s announcement, the PCA ruled that the eastern and western borders of Abyei should be redrawn, reducing the size of the region.

The region is claimed by both north and south Sudan. Fighting in Abyei in April last year left 100 people dead and forced tens of thousands to flee their homes. The town was razed to the ground.

In its decision, which was made public earlier today, the Permanent Court of Arbitration decided not to accept the boundaries as drawn up by the Abyei Boundary Commission. The Commission was set up following the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005. Its deliberations were rejected by the north.

In Wednesday’s ruling, the PCA ruled that the eastern and western borders of Abyei should be redrawn, reducing the size of the region.

Both the SPLM and the NCP have pledged to abide by the decision of the court but have recently accused each other of moving troops into the area.

Further updates will follow from Sudan Radio Service.

IRIN - BACKGROUND TO THE ABYEI RULING

What is the Abyei Protocol?

A chapter of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Accord (CPA) (www.sudanarchive.net), which provides for a referendum in 2011 when Abyei will decide whether to join the north or the south, and for a joint administration until then. The protocol outlines how the region's oil revenue is shared between the Northern Government of National Unity (GNU) and the Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS) and enshrines the grazing rights of Misseriya pastoralists who live to the north of Abyei. It also tasked an Abyei Boundaries Commission to "define and demarcate" the area, whose borders are disputed by north and south.

Chapter IV of the CPA states that the people who live in Abyei permanently are of the Ngok section of the Dinka ethnic group. Arab communities, including the Misseriya, traditionally move through the area at certain seasons with their livestock for pasture, water and trade, meaning that the two communities regularly interact - and have clashed in the past.

What is the role of the Permanent Court of Arbitration?

The commission's "final and binding" ruling, issued in July 2005, determined that Abyei was much larger than the northern government claimed. Abyei's size matters because it affects how much oil is apportioned to the area and because in a referendum scheduled for 2011, Abyei's residents are likely to vote to join Southern Sudan's administration. The GNU rejected the ruling by insisting the commission had exceeded its mandate.

Both sides agreed that an Abyei Arbitration Tribunal, sitting at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, should decide whether this assertion was valid and by extension whether the commission's boundaries remained in force. They further agreed that if the court found the commission had exceeded its mandate, the court should make a fresh ruling on Abyei's boundaries based on submissions by both parties.

Why is it so important to resolve the dispute?

The 1972 Addis Ababa peace agreement, which ended the first civil war (1956-1972), also included provisions for a referendum among the Abyei Ngok Dinka on whether or not to join what was then a semi-autonomous Southern Region. Failure to implement those provisions was a factor in the re-ignition of civil war in the early 1980s.

It has remained a hotbed of tension since the CPA was signed: in May 2008 clashes displaced tens of thousands of people in Abyei and the town was set on fire. Failure to properly implement the Abyei Protocol is likely to exacerbate not only conflict between local communities but also the increasingly strained relations between Khartoum and GOSS.

Abyei lies at the faultline of Sudan. It encapsulates the cultural and livelihoods divide of the country, but at its best could also exemplify peaceful interdependence at the community level. It is a key stronghold of the South's most powerful ethnic group, the Dinka. It may contain only less than a quarter of the country's current production, but it is possibly the largest proven reserve over which the rest of Sudan may claim control.
- - -
UPDATE 2:
News just in from Aljazeera Wednesday, July 22, 2009 14:06 Mecca Time, 11:06 GMT - Court rules on Sudan Abyei dispute - excerpt:
An international court has redrawn the borders of Sudan's Abyei region to give the Khartoum government control of the Heglig oilfields and the Nile oil pipeline.

Both the Sudanese government and former rebels in the south pledged on Wednesday to abide by the ruling of the Abyei Arbitration Tribunal in The Hague.

"We have made a very important gain in this award," Dirdeiry Mohamed Ahmed, the Sudanese government representative at the tribunal, said.

"This territory includes the disputed oil fields."
UPDATE 3:
Super report from Reuters, 22 Jul 2009 11:30:25 GMT.  Reporting by Andrew Heavens in Abyei, Khalid Abdul Aziz in Khartoum and Aaron Gray-Block in the Hague; Writing by Alastair Sharp in Cairo):INSTANT VIEW: Court ruling on Sudan's Abyei region
(ABYEI, Sudan) - An international court left mostly intact the northern border of Sudan's disputed oil-producing Abyei area on Wednesday, but redefined its eastern and western boundaries.
The borders of Abyei are seen as a key stumbling block in implementation of a battered 2005 north-south peace deal that ended over two decades of civil war fought largely along ethnic and religious lines.
Following are some reactions to the ruling by officials from both sides of the conflict, which is separate from the ongoing unrest in Darfur:

MUTRIF SIDDIG, SUDANESE FOREIGN MINISTRY UNDERSECRETARY REPRESENTING SUDAN'S CENTRAL GOVERNMENT
"We respect this decision. And this decision is final and binding because all the parties agreed from the beginning that the decision of the court was binding and final. Also, the decision guarantees the rights of Misseriya pastoralists... We think the decision is a step forward."

DENG ALOR, FOREIGN MINISTER IN COALITION GOVERNMENT WHO REPRESENTS FORMER SOUTHERN REBELS
"The decision ... is binding on the parties. SPLM (Sudan People's Liberation Movement) and the people of this area will respect and implement that decision with regards to the northern boundaries. The northern boundaries, as far as the Dinka are concerned, remain the same. The court has dismissed the shared area and has annexed the shared area to the Misseriya. With regards to the east and west, the Dinka have lost some small areas ... But all in all we think the decision of the court is acceptable."
"We need to see the line on paper and on land so we really determine where the (oil) wells fall."

SCOTT GRATION, U.S. SPECIAL ENVOY TO SUDAN
"I am very optimistic ... I had an opportunity to drive through Abyei and see the changes. The new building, the new construction, the repairs that have been done. I have also had an opportunity to spend the last month talking to senior members and leaders of the SPLM and the NCP, and I have got to tell you, I'm optimistic. The commitments that these folks have made in words, I am convinced that they will be carried out in deed and that this arbitration decision will be fully implemented. The border will be demarcated and the Dinka and the Misseriya will live for a long time in peace. This area will be one where people can grow up to have and enjoy the benefits that are coming to this region with development. Everyone is committed to this arbitration which is final and binding, and I think it is going to work out just fine."

ASHRAF QAZI, SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE OF THE U.N. SECRETARY GENERAL FOR SUDAN
"The decision is final and binding on both parties, and both parties have already committed themselves to accept the decision as final and binding ... This will pave the way for the peaceful implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement as a whole. The rights of both communities have been guaranteed as a matter of international law. So even if anybody is not 100 percent satisfied, I do believe this has been a win-win decision for both sides. And both sides deserve to be congratulated for cooperating and committing themselves to the peaceful implementation of this final decision."

ABDEL BAQI AL-JAILANI, STATE MINISTER FOR HUMANITARIAN AFFAIRS FROM SUDAN'S DOMINANT NATIONAL CONGRESS PARTY
"There is no distinct line between Dinka and Misseriya in this area. People are intermingling. They reflect the unity of Sudan. We are looking to this area as a start point for the referendum of 2011. This will be the focal point where Sudan starts to unite... Nobody expected to get 100 percent of what he wanted. But there is a good compromise."
"It is accepted and we are committed to applying it ... The Misseriya will access water and the area. I don't thing there is anything to upset the Misseriya or the north in particular."

RIEK MACHAR, VICE PRESIDENT OF SOUTH SUDAN
"We want peace. We think this decision is going to consolidate the peace ... We came to see justice and it's a decision we will respect.
UPDATE 4:
From BBC News at 12:03 GMT, Wednesday, 22 July 2009 13:03 UK:
Sudanese accept oil border ruling
North and south Sudan say they accept a border ruling by judges in The Hague that gives a big oilfield to the north.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration has redrawn the boundaries of Abyei region, which became a flashpoint during a 22-year-long war between north and south.

The judges decided not to abide by the borders proposed after the 2005 peace deal, which the north had rejected.

Instead it ruled that several areas - including the Heglig oilfied - were not part of Abyei.

Although The Hague court was deciding where Abyei's borders lay rather than who owned the land, analysts say the ruling was crucial in determining the ownership of the oilfields.

Abyei's inhabitants will be asked in a referendum in 2011 whether they want to be a part of north or south Sudan - and analysts say they are likely to opt for a union with the south.

By reducing the size of Abyei compared with the 2005 proposals, the court has effectively awarded more land and mineral wealth to the north.

The BBC's James Copnall in the capital, Khartoum, says the reaction on the ground to the judges' ruling will be a key test of the peace between north and south.

'Victory for peace'

Dirdeiry Mohamed Ahmed, the head of the northern government delegation at The Hague, called the decision a victory.

"We welcome the fact that the oilfields are now excluded from the Abyei area, particularly the Heglig oil field," the Associated Press quoted him as saying.

The south's delegate Riak Machar, vice president in southern Sudan's semi-autonomous government, described the decision as "balanced" and said he was committed to respecting it.

"I think this is going to consolidate peace in Sudan. It is a victory for the Sudanese people and a victory for peace," he said.

The issue was referred to The Hague last year after clashes broke out in Abyei town, killing about 100 people and forcing tens of thousands to flee.

UN peacekeepers beefed up their presence in Abyei this week amid fears that a controversial ruling could spark violence.

Douglas Johnson, who was part of the international panel who drew up the 2005 border proposals, said the Hague agreement had respected ethnic boundaries as well as north and south rivalries.

"Each side can say they were right about something, and each side can come away feeling that they have been given something from this arrangement," he told the BBC World Service.

Rights 'guaranteed'
The area is home to Arab cattle herders known as the Misseriya who are loyal to the north, and the Dinka Ngok, part of the largest ethnic group of the south.

Both sides compete for resources like land for grazing and water - rivalries that were exploited during the civil war with both sides being used as proxy armies.
The conflict between the mainly Muslim north and the Christian and animist south claimed 1.5 million lives.
UN special envoy to Sudan Ashraf Qazi said the Abyei border ruling would pave the way for the 2005 peace deal to be implemented as a whole.
"The rights of both communities have been guaranteed as a matter of international law," he said.
"So even if anybody is not 100% satisfied, I do believe this has been a win-win decision for both sides."

As part of the peace agreement the south will hold a referendum in 2011 on whether to become independent from the north.
UPDATE 5:
From Xinhua (KHARTOUM) 22 July 2009 - excerpt:
UN top representative in Sudan welcomes int'l arbitration over Abyei
Speaking in the Abyei town shortly after the PCA announced its decision, Qazi underlined the importance of a clear and final resolution of Abyei's boundaries.

"Both parties have agreed that this question is now settled. I call on all involved to cooperate to implement the decision according to the plan the parties adopted in recent talks and to guarantee the long term interests of the people of the region in accordance with the PCA," he said.

He emphasized that the decision's primary practical impact would be upon the administrative definition of the Abyei Area.

"The Ngok-Dinka and Misseriya will have all the rights guaranteed to them by the PCA and the Interim Constitution, as well as all of Abyei's people," said Qazi.
Map showing Darfur, Khartoum, Omdurman, Shendi, Abyei

UPDATE 6:
Email just in from enough project org c. 15:15 GMT UK 22 July 2009:
For Immediate Release July 22, 2009
Contact: Eileen White Read
eread@enoughproject.org
STATEMENTS: International Court Decison on Abyei, Sudan

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague issued a decision today on the boundary of Abyei - an oil-rich and contested region along the disputed internal border between the northern and southern regions of Sudan.

The following statements regarding the decision by the Court’s Abyei Arbitration Tribunal were issued by The Enough Project at the Center for American Progress, the Save Darfur Coalition, and the Genocide Intervention Network:

Enough Project Co-founder John Prendergast noted, “The international community’s track record on Abyei is wildly mixed. After having negotiated the provisions of the peace deal, no one was willing to enforce it when the National Congress Party decided not to accept the previous ruling. It is time to rectify that mistake and create consequences for either party if they undermine implementation."

Jerry Fowler, President of the Save Darfur Coalition, added, “We are encouraged that the U.S. Special Envoy has traveled to Abyei for today’s announcement, but sustained pressure from the United States and others will be critical to ensuring that both sides adhere to their commitments on Abyei and other Comprehensive Peace Agreement benchmarks. As in Darfur, the potential for violence in Abyei remains significant, so we call upon the United Nations Peacekeeping Mission in Sudan, UNMIS, to strengthen its presence in Abyei and take all necessary measures to protect civilians.”

Sam Bell, Executive Director of the Genocide Intervention Network, commented, “With even small provocations on the ground in Abyei, the situation could erode quite quickly. International leadership is essential to making sure that does not happen. All parties must be held accountable for their actions, and for those of their proxies.”

For more information, read Enough’s strategy paper, Abyei: Sudan’s Next Test.

UPDATE 7:
Snapshot of Google's newsreel 16:30 pm GMT UK 22 July 2009

US, EU Urge Sudan Rivals To Implement Oil Region Ruling

Zawya - ‎24 minutes ago‎
The International Court of Arbitration shrank the land mass of the flashpoint Abyei region by 8099 square kilometers by redrawing its northern, ...

EU: Hague court ruling on Sudan's Abyei region 'important step'

Earthtimes (press release) - ‎39 minutes ago‎
Stockholm - A ruling by a court in The Hague adjusting the boundaries of the disputed oil-rich Abyei region in Sudan was "an important step" for the ...

SNAP ANALYSIS-Risks remain after Sudan's Abyei ruling

Reuters - Andrew HeavensGiles Elgood - ‎58 minutes ago‎
ABYEI, July 22 (Reuters) - The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague on Wednesday re-drew the boundaries of Sudan's contested Abyei ...

US - European Union Joint Declaration on the Boundaries of the ...

US Department of State - ‎1 hour ago‎
The decision by the Permanent Court of Arbitration regarding the boundaries of the disputed area of Abyei is an important step in the implementation of the ...

Hague court adjusts boundaries of Sudan's Abyei region - Summary

Earthtimes (press release) - ‎1 hour ago‎
The Hague - The boundaries of the Sudan's disputed oil-rich Abyei region between the north and south and is to be adjusted slightly, an ad-hoc tribunal of ...

INSTANT VIEW: Court ruling on Sudan's Abyei region

Reuters - ‎1 hour ago‎
ABYEI, Sudan (Reuters) - An international court redefined borders of Sudan's disputed oil-producing Abyei area on Wednesday. The borders of Abyei are seen ...

Abyei loses an oil field, Sudan gains better prospects for peace?

UN Dispatch - ‎1 hour ago‎
As Mark forecasted, The Hague's Permanent Court of Arbitration handed down a ruling today on Abyei, the contentious border area that could prove the ...

Abyei arbitration - Final award rendered

ReliefWeb (press release) - ‎1 hour ago‎
In the Arbitration Agreement, the Parties agreed to submit, for final and binding decision, their dispute as to whether or not the experts of the Abyei ...

SPLM Official on Tensions in Abyei on Eve of ICJ Ruling

Asharq Alawsat - Mustapha Sirri - ‎1 hour ago‎
[Asharq Al-Awsat] How is the situation in Abyei and what are your expectations from the ruling? [Biong Deng] The general situations are stable but there is ...

Abyei Arbitration court redefines bonders of the disputed area

Sudan Tribune - ‎1 hour ago‎
July 14, 2009 (THE HAGUE) — The Abyei Arbitration Tribunal (AAT) stated today that the experts of AbyeiBoundary Commission (ABC) partially exceeded their ...

Sudan: Disputed oil-rich Abyei region to be redrawn to appease ...

Afrik.com - Konye Obaji - ‎2 hours ago‎
The United Nations have increased its peacekeeping mission in the disputed oil-rich Abyeiregion of Sudan ahead of a decision by The Hague to redraw the ...

Top UN envoy welcomes ruling on disputed Sudanese town

UN News Centre - ‎2 hours ago‎
22 July 2009 – The top United Nations envoy to Sudan welcomed today's court ruling on the disputed oil-rich area of Abyei, saying he hopes it will foster ...

Peace partners in Sudan voice commitment to arbitration over Abyei

Xinhua - Li Xianzhi - ‎2 hours ago‎
ABYEI, Sudan, July 22 (Xinhua) -- The two peace partners in Sudan, the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) and the former rebel Sudan People's Liberation ...

Arbitration court rules on Abyei

afrol News - ‎2 hours ago‎
Abyei's inhabitants will be asked in a referendum in 2011 whether they want to be a part of north or south Sudan. Both the Sudanese government and former ...

Khartoum claims oil fields as court redraws borders

AFP - ‎2 hours ago‎
The International Court of Arbitration shrank the land mass of the flashpoint Abyei region by 8099 square kilometres by redrawing its northern, ...

After more than one year, care continues for displaced in Agok and ...

Medecins Sans Frontieres - ‎3 hours ago‎
MSF has been working in Abyei hospital since 2006. Following violence in May last year an emergency team responded to the needs of the displaced, ...

2009年7月22日星期三18:09 BJT

路透中国 - Aaron Gray-BlockGiles Elgood - ‎5 hours ago‎
THE HAGUE (Reuters) - An international court redefined the eastern and western boundaries of the disputed oil-producing Abyei area ...

Abyei tribes fear losing land

Aljazeera.net - ‎6 hours ago‎
Abyei has long been Sudan's cultural bridge linking the African south of the country to the Arab north. A region located on the boundary between northern ...



Click on Abyei label here below for related reports.

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