Friday, 17 December 2010

UN Security Council concerned for Sudan's oil rich Abyei region

The UN Security Council has expressed concern about the situation in Sudan's oil rich Abyei region, where a referendum on self-determination is expected to take place on January 9th 2011.

In a statement, approved by all its 15 members, the Council urged Sudan to reach an agreement on Abyei and appease the mounting tension in the region. In a separate development, the Council welcomed the conclusion of a peaceful registration process for the referendum in South Sudan. The head of UN peacekeeping, Alain LeRoy, said that although the situation in Southern Sudan appears to have stabilised the region remains fragile. He also noted that the security situation could become compromised during and after the referendum.

"As the Council is aware, we are working on options for a possible augmentation of U.N. troops in Sudan, to prevent any deterioration in the security situation after the referendum, and to increase our capacity to monitor possible ceasefire violations and protect civilians throughout the mission area," said LeRoy.

The US ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, told the Security Council that a peaceful referendum is essential in order to establish long-term peace and stability in Sudan. She added that if referendum protocol is followed polling will commence on schedule, but said that status of Abyei remains unresolved.

"Any resolution regarding the future of the Abyei area must respect the legally affirmed rights of the people of that region and it must be reached with the consent of both parties. We also face additional upcoming challenges, including the effective conduct of the Southern Sudan referendum itself," said Rice.

Sources: Voice of America, Global Security, UN

For more news and expert analysis about the Sahara region, please see Sahara Focus.

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