Monday, 23 May 2011

UN tells North Sudan to withdraw troops from Abyei

The UN Security Council has called on North Sudan to immediately withdraw its armed forces from the oil-rich Abyei. South Sudan called the North's seizure of the disputed region an “act of war,” saying it resulted in civilians and southern soldiers being killed.

South Sudan is set to become independent in July, after the majority of South Sudanese people voted in favour of secession in in January. The status of Abyei is yet to be resolved after a referendum on its future was shelved.

According to the French ambassador to the UN, Gerard Araud, the North army's military operation “threatens to undermine the mutual commitment of the parties to avoid a return to war.”

The seizure of Abyei by the North has sparked concern that violence may escalate between the two sides, which fought a two-decade long civil war that ended with a peace treaty in 2005. The North said it acted after 22 of its men were killed in a southern ambush earlier this week.

Araud added: "The members of the Security Council call upon the government of Sudan to halt its military operation and withdraw immediately from Abyei town and its environs….They condemn the escalatory military operation being undertaken by the Sudanese armed forces. This constitutes a serious violation of the CPA (Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005)."

Sources: BBC News, Bloomberg, Al Jazeera, Sudan Tribune

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

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