Sudanese rival groups strike peace accord

 

THE TWO Sudanese ethnic groups involved in deadly clashes in the disputed border region of Abyei last weekend have signed a deal to put an end to the fighting.

Leaders of the Misseriya and Dinka Ngok have agreed to pay compensation for over 30 people killed in violence which began on January 7th and threatened to overshadow this week’s independence referendum in the south.

However, the deal does not address the future status of Abyei, which did not take part in the referendum because of a dispute over who is eligible to vote.

Fighting began after the nomadic Misseriya, who believe Abyei should remain part of the north, claimed they were being prevented from bringing cattle to water sources during their annual migration into the area in search of grazing.

However, the Dinka, who have ties to the south, alleged the Misseriya were trying to force them from their homes. Convoys of south Sudanese civilians leaving north Sudan were also attacked.

Under the agreement, Dinka leaders agreed to allow the Misseriya to water their cattle as long as further compensation was paid for deaths in 2010. In return, the Misseriya agreed to guarantee security for southerners travelling through the region.

The news came as the US signalled it would remove Sudan from a list of state sponsors of terrorism if it respected the results of this week’s independence referendum in south Sudan. Sudan has been on the list since 1993, when the US accused it of harbouring several terrorists, including Osama bin Laden and the Venezuelan, Carlos the Jackal.

“If everything goes smoothly, I could anticipate that it could be done by the end of the interim period,” the US special envoy to Sudan, Gen Scott Gration, told reporters in Khartoum.

The interim period refers to the time given for the implementation of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), which brought an end to the 22-year civil war in Sudan and paved the way for this week’s independence vote, which concludes today. Turnout has already passed the 60 per cent threshold required under the CPA for the vote to pass, the south Sudan referendum commission said this week, permitting Africa’s newest country to declare independence. Although it will assume responsibility for one of the world’s poorest countries, the new south Sudanese government will also get control of about 80 per cent of Sudan’s current oil production of 490,000 barrels a day.