Despite poor ties between Sudan and Ethiopia, South Sudan seeks agreement on Abyei’s future before replacing Ethiopian soldiers.
The Abyei Final Status Committee of South Sudan refused to replace Ethiopian troops until an agreement was reached on the future of the disputed region.
Last August, after the stressful ties between the two nations in the Al-Fashaga region and GERD, the United Nations accepted Sudan’s request to remove the Ethiopian troops from Abyei.
On 7 September Jean Pierre Lacroix, UN Department Head of Peacekeeping addressed the future of UNISFA with the Sudanese authorities in Khartoum. It must provide a report on the reorganization of the Force with a credible departure plan from Abyei to the Security Council by 30 September.
On Thursday, following similar discussions in Khartoum and Addis Abeba, Lacroix had talks with authorities in Juba on the Abyei force.
After the conference, Deng Alor, Vice-Chairman of Abyei’s National Final Status Committee, in South Sudan, emphasized the necessity for a Final Agreement on the State of the Abyei Region before UNISFA replaced the Ethiopian troops.
Then, UNISFA troop replacement should intervene by approving the two parties to the agreement to deploy soldiers in the area.
He emphasized that they called on the UN to assist the two nations in arriving to a definitive agreement that defines the destiny of the Abyei region.
United Nations authorities believe they cannot retain peacekeepers’ soldiers from a nation in a war with the host country.
After a meeting between Lacroix and Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok, the Sudanese Government stated that the replacement of the Ethiopian soldiers from Abyei had been discussed by both parties.
On 7 September Lacroix “confirmed that the United Nations has started the hunt for soldiers from a number of nations who fulfill the necessary requirements,” he added.
The UN Security Council renewed UNIFSA’s term until 15 October in May 2021.
Under the Comprehensive Peace Agreement on 9 January 2005 which led to South Sudan’s independence six years later, Abyei remained a Sudanese territory until the vote on the future of the border region.
Khartoum and Juba were unable to arrange a referendum on who is qualified to participate.