From: Berhane Habtemariam (Berhane.Habtemariam@gmx.de)
Date: Mon Jul 27 2009 - 08:43:22 EDT
North, south Sudan leaders trade blame after oil ruling
Mon Jul 27, 2009 7:54am GMT
* Northern, southern leaders trade accusations
* Abyei ruling in contention
By Andrew Heavens
KHARTOUM, July 27 (Reuters) - North and south Sudanese leaders have traded
accusations over the roll-out of an international ruling on the disputed
Abyei oil region, raising fears of a fresh dispute between the former civil
The accusations -- about control of oilfields and a referendum on Abyei's
future -- came less than a week after both sides accepted the judgment on
the boundaries of Abyei by a tribunal at The Hague's Permanent Court of
The United Nations, the United States and other governments had earlier
hailed the ruling as a historic resolution to a bitter quarrel over the
central Sudanese territory.
North and south Sudan have argued and fought for decades over Abyei, which
is surrounded by oilfields.
The issues of its borders and ownership were so sensitive they were left
undecided in the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended a 22-year
civil war between Sudan's Muslim north and its mostly Christian south.
Both sides, which have clashed over Abyei since 2005, agreed last year to
refer the matter to the Hague for a final ruling.
The Hague tribunal on Wednesday re-drew the area's boundaries, producing new
maps that ceded the key Heglig and Bamboo oilfields to north Sudan's
Southern Kordofan region while leaving huge tracts of fertile land inside
The positions of the borders are particularly important because the
residents of the newly defined Abyei area have been promised a referendum on
whether to join north or south Sudan in January 2011. That same day,
southerners are also due to vote on whether to split off as a separate
Both north and south leaders promised to respect the Hague ruling whichever
way it fell.
But senior members of each side have released antagonistic statements to
local media since the judgement, over the control of the re-zoned oilfields
and voting rights in the referendum.
The state Sudan Vision newspaper on Sunday reported Khartoum would stop
paying a proportion of Heglig's oil revenues to the south after the ruling.
Taban Deng Gai, governor of the south's Unity State for the south's dominant
Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), told Reuters the north had been
premature in claiming the Heglig oilfield after the ruling, because the
drill site was still up for grabs under a separate border dispute.
Gai said officials had documentary proof showing Heglig was part of Unity
not Kordofan, and would present their case to a separate commission on
demarcating Sudan's entire north-south border.
"This decision to stop the payments is wrong," he said, adding the south
might have to go back to the Hague for a decision on Heglig.
Sudan's president Omar Hassan al-Bashir made a speech soon after the Hague
ruling saying all Abyei residents -- including Arab Misseriya nomads,
associated with the north -- would have the right to vote in the referendum.
The SPLM head of Abyei's administration Arop Mayok told Reuters the speech
amounted to an invitation for nomads to register as settled Abyei residents
to influence the vote.
"I hope that there will be a change of heart from those who are releasing
such a statement. It doesn't help in the peace process," he told Reuters on
The north's lead official on Abyei, Didiri Mohamed Ahmed, said the SPLM's
recent statements on Heglig and the referendum had left him with
"misgivings" about the south's motives.
"We have heard them make statements that have raised concerns about their
commitment to the ruling," he told Reuters.
C Thomson Reuters 2009 All rights reserved
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