National, News

Security Council extends UNISFA lifespan

By Mamer Abraham


United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has extended the mandate of the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) for one year.

The Security Council urged the governments of Sudan and South Sudan to render their utmost support to UNISFA as they discharge their duties of protecting civilians in Abyei.

“The Security Council decided today to extend the mandate of the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) for one year until November 15, 2024, and maintain the Force’s current authorized troop and police ceilings,” the statement shared on the UN website read.

“By the text, the Council urged the governments of Sudan and South Sudan to provide full support for UNISFA in implementing its mandate and deploying its personnel, including to facilitate the smooth functioning of all UNISFA bases and the Mechanism’s team sites, in line with their primary responsibility as host states and the Status of Forces Agreements.”

It also called for the relocation of forces in Abyei and the demilitarization of local communities so that UNISFA and the Abyei Police Force would be the only ones to operate in the area.

Abyei is contested by both the Republic of Sudan and the Republic of South Sudan, although it is an administrative area currently in South Sudan.

The Misseriya Arabs claim animal grazing rights to Abyei land, while the Ngok Dinka maintain that it is their ancestral land.

According to the comprehensive peace agreement that saw South Sudan secede from Sudan, the people of Abyei, Southern Kordofan, and Blue Nile were to vote in a referendum to decide whether they would be in Sudan or South Sudan after the Southern Sudan (now South Sudan) referendum, but this process has so far been delayed.

In October 2013, the people of Abyei held a unilateral referendum where they voted 99.98 percent to be part of South Sudan; however, the vote was protested by the Misseriya nomads and not recognized by the international community.

“The referendum committee has announced the results, and the number of people who have chosen to become part of South Sudan is 99.9 percent of the vote,” Luka Biong, spokesman for the Abyei Referendum High Committee, told AFP news agency.

According to a report published by Al Jazeera news outlet, the referendum was not recognized by Sudan, South Sudan, or the African Union because it was carried out by one ethnic community, the Ngok Dinka, and therefore dubbed a “threat to peace.”

Reports indicated that 63,433 out of 64,775 registered voters cast their votes; 362 votes were spoiled, while only 12 people voted to be part of Sudan.

Tim Flatman, an independent observer in Abyei, said the process was very transparent.

Comments are closed.