Sudan's north and south withdrawing from Abyei

The southern and northern armies both agreed to redeploy from the area by July 1 after fighting broke out between the two forces in Abyei town in May killing at least 90 people and displacing 50,000 people.

Sudan's north and south withdrawing from Abyei
Sudan's north and south armies have begun to withdraw their forces from the disputed oil-rich region of Abyei, officials said on Friday, after missing an end-June deadline agreed to by the former foes.

A 2005 north-south landmark peace deal ended Africa's longest civil war, shared wealth and power, enshrined democratic transformation with elections due next year and a southern vote on secession by 2011.

"We began today to withdraw parts of our force," said the northern army spokesman of the Joint Defence Board (JDB) Abdel Rahman Mohamedain. The JDB is the body created by the accord which ensures cooperation from both northern and southern armies.

The southern army, known as the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA), said on Thursday they had almost completed their withdrawal.

"In less than three days we will finish the redeployment," the southern army's head of operations Pieng Deng Kuol said.

Mohamedain said the delay in withdrawing the northern forces was because they were waiting for police to deploy and for a temporary administration to take power before they would fully leave, according to an agreement between the north-south forces.

An Abyei administration has yet to be agreed on. The SPLA said there were no conditions on their withdrawal.

Kuol warned that the failure of northern forces to leave the area was causing disgruntlement amongst his troops.

The southern and northern armies both agreed to redeploy from the area by July 1 after fighting broke out between the two forces in Abyei town in May killing at least 90 people and displacing 50,000 people.

Southern army officials said they had missed the deadline because they lacked transport for heavy equipment.

Abyei, on the border between north and south with important oil wells and pastures has long been a source of contention.

Sudan's north-south conflict was fought over differences in ideology, ethnicity, religion and access to Sudan's oil that lies mostly in the south. It is separate from the Darfur conflict.

Reuters
Last Mod: 05 Temmuz 2008, 11:45
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