Monday, 23 May 2011

Sudan: Abyei on fire

According to the UN, the town of Abyei has been set on fire. Earlier today, the UN Security Council called on North Sudan to immediately withdraw its armed forces from the region. It appears the situation has since deteriorated, with reports of looting and violence spreading throughout the region.

Abyei was granted a special status under the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended the two decade civil war between the North and the South. Terms under the agreement stipulate that both sides have to keep their troops out until a referendum to determine Abyei's future.

The UN Mission in Sudan (Unmis) released a statement saying it "strongly condemns the burning and looting currently being perpetrated by armed elements in Abyei town". Unimis emphasised that the North's troops were "responsible for maintaining law and order in the areas they control", urging Khartoum to "intervene to stop these criminal acts".

Speaking about the situation in Sudan, French ambassador to the UN, Gerard Araud, said the North army's military operation “threatens to undermine the mutual commitment of the parties to avoid a return to war.”

The army, however, remains defiant and has vowed to hold territory it seized in the disputed region, directly ignoring UN's calls for withdrawal.

Sources: BBC News, KBC, AFP, Reuters

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

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