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UN to maintain Ethiopian troops in Abyei

Author: Daniel Danis | Published: Friday, April 9, 2021

UNISFA was established through UN Security Council Resolution 1990 of June 27, 2011. PHOTO/UNISFA

The U.N. Secretary-General has cast doubts over the possibility of replacing Ethiopian troops in Abyei as demanded by Sudan.

Antonio Guterres informed the UN Security Council that the current strength of the UN Interim Security Forces in Abyei should be maintained.

This week, the Sudanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Mariam al-Mahdi said her country wants another force to be deployed in Abyei

As of January this year, there were more than 4,000 UN personnel stationed in Abyei as part of the UN Interim Security Force for the area.

Ethiopia is the largest contributor of personnel in the disputed Abyei region.

But Mariam said that Sudan can not accept these forces in the strategic depth of the country while the Ethiopian troops are massing on the eastern borders of Sudan.

She was referring to the dispute at the Al-Fashqa border, and the failure of a three-day meeting in Kinshasa about the giant hydropower dam that Ethiopia plans to operate next July.

The minister insisted that the UN replace the Ethiopian troops present in UNIFSA with peacekeepers from other countries.

However, the UN chief said the move would have significant consequences on the stability in Abyei, as well as serious implications for the relations between Sudan and South Sudan.

Mr. Guterres stated that both South Sudan and Ethiopia believe the premature withdrawal of UNISFA would likely lead the security situation in the Abyei area to deteriorate — a view echoed by the African Union.

In a letter obtained Thursday by The Associated Press, the UN boss told the Security Council that he could not provide options to reduce and terminate the nearly 3,700-strong peacekeeping force in the disputed Abyei region because of differences between the two countries.

He expressed hopes that Ethiopia and Sudan would resolve their tensions to enable UNISFA to continue to focus on Abyei’s security and stability as well as monitoring the border.

The Secretary-General further stated that a safe and complete end to UNISFA’s mission would require “good neighborly relations between Sudan and South Sudan and the parties reaching an agreement on the final status of the Abyei area.”

This, he added, would require the support of the region, the African Union and the United Nations.

The oil-rich Abyei area remains a disputed region between Sudan and South Sudan.

It is jointly administered by the Presidency of the two countries with security being provided by the UNISFA since 2011.

Yesterday, the Deputy Chief Administrator of the Abyei area told Eye Radio that South Sudan must be consulted on any decision regarding the status of Abyei.

Kon Manyieth stated that he does not know of an arrangement between Sudan and the UN to replace Ethiopian troops in the region.

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