North, South Sign Interim Agreement to Pull Troops Out of Disputed Abyei Region, Security Council told in Briefing on Sudan

20 June 2011
SC/10286

North, South Sign Interim Agreement to Pull Troops Out of Disputed Abyei Region, Security Council told in Briefing on Sudan

20 June 2011
Security Council
SC/10286
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Security Council

6559th Meeting* (AM)

North, South Sign Interim Agreement to Pull Troops Out of Disputed Abyei

 

Region, Security Council told in Briefing on Sudan

 

Northern and Southern Sudan today signed an agreement to pull their troops out of the disputed central Abyei region, scene of fierce fighting over the past few weeks, African Union mediator Thabo Mbeki announced as he urged the Security Council to move quickly to ensure implementation of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the two sides.

Briefing the Council via video link from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, shortly after the deal had been reached, Mr. Mbeki, Chairperson of the African Union High Level Implementation Panel, said that after days of discussion, the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) had agreed to demilitarize resource-rich Abyei and allow an interim force of Ethiopian peacekeepers to step in.  The agreement came as Southern Sudan prepared officially to announce its separation from the North on 9 July, following a referendum held at the beginning of the year.

“[This] will bring an end to violence and the threat of violence in the area, so we are really hoping that [the] Security Council will look at this agreement as early as possible and take all the necessary decisions so that the various provisions in the agreement can be implemented,” Mr. Mbeki said, adding that the departure of military forces would also allow thousands of people displaced by fighting in and around Abyei to return to their homes, while allowing relief agencies and workers to restart their humanitarian activities in the area.

Turning to the situation in Southern Kordofan, where bloody clashes between pro-South groups and Government forces had forced thousands of people to flee over the past few months, he said he had just visited the region on Sunday with Haile Menkerios, Special Representative of the Secretary-General, who also participated via videoconference.  A subsequent meeting with Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) leader Abdel-Aziz al-Hilu had been aimed at encouraging the group to participate in a process that would bring a peaceful end to the conflict, he added.

Meanwhile, Mr. Mbeki said he was awaiting word on the arrival in Addis Ababa tomorrow of senior political leaders from Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile States, as well as from Khartoum, for more comprehensive talks on political and security matters.  In addition, he said, Mr. Menkerios, who heads the United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS), had been engaging the Sudanese Government on the urgent need to address the humanitarian situation in Southern Kordofan.  “We are hoping to move to that issue immediately and begin comprehensive discussions that will see a final disposition on the matter.”

When Mr. Menkerios addressed the Council, he announced that an agreement had been reached earlier today with Sudan’s Minister of State for Humanitarian Affairs on access to most areas where critical humanitarian situations existed.  He expressed hope that shipments would not be severely hampered as of 9 July, saying the United Nations was making plans to ensure a steady flow of supplies after that date.  It was also to be hoped that, later today or by tomorrow morning, humanitarian officials would implement what had been agreed in terms of access.

He went on to note that discussions on a possible successor United Nations mission in the South were going well, and hailed the agreement to permit Ethiopian troops into Abyei.  On the possibility of a border-monitoring mission, he said the two sides had discussed the need for a third party to carry out that task.  The African Union High Level Implementation Panel had suggested that such a mission be led by the United Nations and be integrated under a single leadership.  There was no opposition thus far to that agreement, and the United Nations was now in the process of liquidating the presence of UNMIS in Northern Sudan, though it would remain fully operational until 9 July.  In a post-UNMIS scenario, there would be a need to assist the Implementation Panel at the political level, he said, proposing that the Secretary-General appoint a special envoy to provide good offices in support of the Panel.

Taking the floor ahead of Council members, the representative of Sudan welcomed the “good news” that an initial agreement had been reached on Abyei, saying the announcement would lead stakeholders to believe that outstanding issues would soon be resolved.  That was the Sudanese Government’s goal, he added, cautioning the Council to “temper your reactions somewhat” until all pending issues involving the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement were fully addressed.  In a later address, he stressed that the Sudan Armed Forces had intervened in Abyei after a “very long period of restraint and patience” due to the failure of Southern Sudan’s President to comply with the agreements and withdraw his troops.  “We had no other choice but to intervene,” he said.

A representative of the Government of South Sudan reaffirmed its commitment to full implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, but expressed concern about recent violations, armed attacks and destabilization efforts in the South by the Government of Sudan, as well as its failure to work in good faith to implement existing agreements on Abyei’s final status.  He said he was pleased, however, that the parties had just signed an agreement, and established a timetable for the North’s full and unconditional withdrawal, which must be implemented swiftly.  Yet, he cautioned that the new accord should not attempt to prejudge Abyei’s final status, and must only be used to restore peace.  “Abyei belongs to both the North and the South, and will continue to do so until the people of Abyei decide otherwise,” he emphasized.

In her remarks, the representative of the United States called for the immediate deployment of Ethiopian troops and announced that her delegation would shortly circulate a draft resolution that would authorize their deployment.  “Now comes the crucial task of full and timely implementation,” she said, warning that the challenges in Abyei must be tackled alongside measures to end the fighting in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile States, address the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation there and ensure the delivery of humanitarian aid to that region.  She was also among those calling for an investigation into the violence to determine whether war crimes had been committed.

Speaking in his national capacity, the representative of Gabon, which holds the Council’s presidency for June, said that once hostilities ended, both parties must show the political will to overcome the crises in Abyei and Southern Kordofan.  He invited them to implement the conclusions agreed in Addis Ababa, urging them to use the window of opportunity to restore trust.

Also speaking were the representatives of the United Kingdom, Germany, South Africa, Portugal, Russian Federation, Colombia, France, Bosnia and Herzegovina, India, China, Lebanon, Nigeria and Brazil.

The meeting began at 10:40 a.m. and ended at 12:51 p.m.

Background

The Security Council met this morning to consider the latest report of the Secretary-General on the Sudan (document S/2011/314).  For more details, please see Press Release SC/10267 of 31 May 2011.

Briefings

THABO MBEKI, Chairperson of the African Union High Level Implementation Panel, addressed the meeting via videoconference from Addis Ababa, announcing that the Government of Sudan and representatives of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) had signed an agreement on Abyei in the last hour.  After days of discussion, both parties had asked the facilitators to recommend the agreement immediately to the Council as they were requesting various interventions by the United Nations in respect of implementation.

Mr. Mbeki expressed hope that the parties would move very quickly on several matters, including the demilitarization of Abyei, with the Sudan Armed Forces there replaced by troops from Ethiopia, as set out in the agreement.  If that part of the accord was implemented as quickly as possible, it would enable displaced people to return to their homes, which was conditional to the removal of military forces.  Full implementation of the agreement would also bring an end to the violence, and the threat of violence, in the area.  “We hope the Council will look at [the agreement] as early as possible and take a decision so all the elements can be implemented,” he said.

As for Southern Kordofan, he said he had just visited the region with Haile Menkerios, Special Representative of the Secretary-General, and other officials, for talks with Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) leader Abdel-Aziz al-Hilu.  The aim had been to encourage SPLA to participate in a process that would bring a peaceful end to the conflict, he said, adding that he was awaiting word on the arrival in Addis Ababa tomorrow of senior political leaders from Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile States, as well as from Khartoum, for more comprehensive talks on political and security matters.  In addition, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative had been engaging the Sudanese Government on the urgent need to address the humanitarian situation in Southern Kordofan.  “We are hoping to move to that issue immediately and begin comprehensive discussions that will see a final disposition on the matter.”

Turning to other matters, he said the Sudanese parties were also pressing ahead on issues related to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, including relations between the North and the South, once Southern Sudanese officials declared independence on 9 July.  There had been good progress on that question, and on issues such as assets and liabilities, as well as Sudan’s outstanding international debt.  The facilitators in Addis Ababa had put to the parties an entire package of recommendations dealing with the economy, including provisions on trade, currency and oil, he said, stressing that most of the questions between North and South would be resolved if agreement could be reached.

Regarding security, especially with regard to border issues, he said the parties were close to a resolution, yet one critical outstanding question was the size and composition of an international force to secure both Sudanese States after 9 July, including policing a demilitarized zone.  Overall, while the African Union facilitators were attending to urgent matters such as Abyei and Southern Kordofan, they were also pushing ahead with other key concerns, he said, expressing hope that all outstanding matters would be concluded by the end of June “so we can have a clear picture”.  The parties had agreed that a decision would be reached on the security of Abyei before they retuned to matters of the region’s final status, he recalled.  With agreement now reached, it was to be hoped that it could be implemented quickly, and that the Council would continue to extend its support to the facilitators and the parties, so as to ensure that all “particular challenges” were addressed.

HAILE MENKERIOS, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the Sudan, also via videoconference from Addis Ababa, expressed hope that today’s agreement would eliminate fighting in Southern Kordofan and pave the way for a succession facility once a political agreement and security arrangements were in place.  In the north of Southern Sudan, some sporadic fighting continued, particularly in Unity and Jonglei States, although it should abate with the onset of the rainy season.  Armed groups had created a difficult humanitarian situation there, thwarting humanitarian access across active firing lines, but agreement had been reached today with Sudan’s Minister of State for Humanitarian Affairs on access to most areas where critical humanitarian situations existed.

Noting that some areas were difficult to reach, he said most humanitarian supplies destined for Southern Sudan were brought in from the North.  He expressed hope that shipments would not be severely hampered as of 9 July, saying the United Nations was making plans to ensure a steady flow of supplies after that date.  It was also to be hoped that, later today or by tomorrow morning, humanitarian officials would implement what had been agreed today in terms of access.  He went on to note that discussions on a possible successor United Nations Mission in the South were going well, and hailed the agreement to permit Ethiopian troops into Abyei, expressing hope that they would be deployed quickly and that people displaced from the region would be able to return home.  That must happen before the rains began and made transport impossible, he stressed.

On the possibility of a border-monitoring mission, he said the two parties had discussed the need for a third party to carry out that task.  The African Union High Level Implementation Panel had suggested that such a mission be led by the United Nations and be integrated under a single leadership.  Thus far, there was no opposition to that agreement, and the United Nations was now in the process of liquidating the presence of the United Nations Mission in the Sudan (UNMIS) in Northern Sudan, though it would remain fully operational there until 9 July.  In a post-UNMIS scenario, there would be a need to assist the African Union High Level Implementation Panel at the political level, he said, proposing that the Secretary-General appoint a special envoy to provide good offices in support of the Panel.

Statements

DAFFA-ALLA ELHAG ALI OSMAN (Sudan) said the Council had just heard the “good news” that initial agreement had been reached on the situation in Abyei.  Welcoming the efforts of all involved, including Mr. Mbeki, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, he said the announcement would lead all stakeholders to believe that all pending issues would soon be resolved.  That was the Sudanese Government’s goal, he added.

The good news also included information concerning tentative agreements on oil and other economic issues, he said, expressing hope that those matters would be dealt with shortly.  Security was also under discussion, he said, urging the Council, however, to “temper your reactions somewhat” until all pending issues were fully resolved.  As for Southern Kordofan, he emphasized the Government’s commitment to reach agreement there as well, noting that contacts and consultations would take place with all relevant parties in that state.

EZEKIEL LOL GATKUOTH, representing the Government of South Sudan, said his Government was committed to full implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, but expressed concern over the recent violation of that accord by the Government of Sudan’s armed attacks and destabilization efforts in the South, its failure to work in good faith to implement existing agreements on Abyei’s final status, its stalling of efforts to define and demarcate the North-South borders, and its failure to conduct popular consultations in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile States.  It was increasingly clear that the attacks on Abyei by the Sudan Armed Forces were part of a deliberate plan.  While the Government of South Sudan regretted the 19 May shooting incident that had caused an exchange of fire, Khartoum’s use of force had been “completely unjustified and wholly disproportionate”, he said.  “This attempt to alter Abyei’s demography by force is unacceptable and must be reversed immediately.”

He said he was pleased, however, that the parties had just signed an agreement intended to secure the immediate withdrawal of Sudanese troops from Abyei and bring in an Ethiopian brigade to protect civilians.  A timetable for the North’s full and unconditional withdrawal must be implemented swiftly, he said, endorsing the Ethiopian Government’s offer to deploy peacekeepers in Abyei, and strongly encouraging the Council to endorse a Chapter VII mandate for them, in addition to supplying them with the requisite resources for deployment within the next two weeks.  The new agreement should not attempt to address or prejudge any outcome of Abyei’s final status, he said, stressing that it should only be used for its intended purpose of restoring peace.  “Abyei belongs to both the North and the South, and it will continue to do so until the people of Abyei decide otherwise.”

He went on to denounce the violent attacks by the Sudan Armed Forces in Southern Kordofan, which had caused a “second humanitarian crisis”, forcing tens of thousands to join the Ngok Dinka in their flight south.  At the same time, he welcomed the international community’s condemnation of those attacks and its humanitarian support for the displaced.  The Government of Sudan’s insistence that SPLA elements in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile disarm or move to the South were “unrealistic and inconsistent” with the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, he said.  It was that uncompromising position — as articulated in the recent ultimatum presented to SPLA elements in those areas to withdraw southwards or face eviction — that had led to the recent violence.  Khartoum could not continue to address political challenges through violence, he stressed.

Any forces deployed in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile were there in accordance with the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, in fulfilment of the requirement to form the joint integrated units, he pointed out.  Under the accord, those units were to remain there until the end of the interim period and therefore, any presence of SPLA forces in the two states was consistent with the Agreement.  Additionally, more than 45,000 SPLA forces from the two states were presently in the South, and arrangements would need to be made for their return to the North.  The legitimate concerns of the local populations in those areas must be addressed through the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, he said, emphasizing that the popular consultation in the two states entailed not just an assessment of the will of their respective peoples, but also a negotiation with the national Government to resolve outstanding grievances.

He called on the Council to insist on the immediate signing of an agreement to end hostilities, insisting that Khartoum must allow humanitarian agencies access to help displaced people.  Without immediate, firm Council action, the situation in Southern Kordofan could degenerate into ethnic cleansing and possible genocide, he warned, rejecting any suggestion that the Comprehensive Peace Agreement had already been implemented.  The United Nations presence in Abyei, Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile, as well as in border areas between Northern and Southern Sudan, must continue, pending final resolution of outstanding issues of the peace accord.  The world body’s main objective must be full implementation of the Agreement and avoiding a security vacuum after 9 July, he said.

SUSAN RICE (United States) welcomed the agreement and expressed great appreciation for the assistance provided to the parties by the African Union facilitators.  Now came the crucial task of full and timely implementation, she said, adding that the Council would continue to monitor the situation so as to ensure that the terms were speedily fulfilled.  It would also monitor the deployment of Ethiopian forces, under United Nations auspices and along the timelines agreed by the parties.  The United States delegation would soon circulate a draft resolution seeking to authorize the proposed interim security force for Abyei, she said.

Unfortunately, the situation in Abyei was not the only crisis facing the people of Sudan, she pointed out.  Indeed, with Southern Sudan set officially to declare independence in less than three weeks, the situation throughout the country posed a threat to the Sudanese people and to international peace and security.  It continued to require the Council’s urgent attention and resolve, she said, recounting “horrifying” reports about the brutal fighting in Southern Kordofan.  The United States was also concerned about the refusal of the Sudan Armed Forces to UNMIS flights to land in the region, especially when crucial supplies were running dangerously low.

Citing United Nations reports that some 325,000 people had been displaced in the past six months, with as many as 75,000 fleeing Southern Kordofan, where a serious humanitarian crisis was unfolding, she called on both parties to allow access for UNMIS and international aid workers.  She went on to cite reports of arbitrary detentions and arrests, as well as the alleged execution of political rivals and medical officials — actions that could amount to crimes against humanity — while calling for an independent report on all crimes committed in Abyei and Southern Kordofan by the Sudan Armed Forces and SPLA.

The Government of Sudan could prevent the crisis from spreading further by focusing on diplomatic efforts, she said.  It should stop trying to dissolve the joint integrated units in Southern Kordofan, she added, emphasizing that security arrangements must be agreed through dialogue, not dictated by force.  It was also essential that violence against civilians and humanitarian workers “stop, and stop now”, she said, noting that in the absence of a concerted effort by the Government, the Sudanese people had turned to the international community for protection “and we have the obligation to provide it”.

MARK LYALL GRANT (United Kingdom) also welcomed the agreement on interim security and administration arrangements in Abyei as an important step forward.  He also welcomed the statements made by the representatives of the Governments of Sudan and Southern Sudan, stressing that the Council would hold them to their commitments, which “must be implemented without delay”.  The signing of the agreement on Abyei was important, yet, everyone must acknowledge that the Council was meeting amid violence and the threat of further conflict in Southern Kordofan, where civilians were under attack by both sides.  He called on all parties to cease fire immediately, for all crimes against civilians to be investigated and for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.

Expressing concern about the humanitarian situation, he called for relief workers to be allowed immediate access, which must be maintained after 9 July.  “We have seen little change on the ground in Abyei,” he said, noting the continuing presence there of the Sudan Armed Forces, which was a “troubling source of tension”.  Moreover, with the rains setting in and humanitarian access still not permitted, the parties must engage seriously on Abyei’s final status.  The security situation would best be helped by a single United Nations presence in the two areas after 9 July, he said, adding that allowing such an international presence would have clear benefits for both parties.  He urged them to “reflect, amid the noise of conflict”, on the future they wished to deliver for their people, stressing that the road ahead would require statesmanship, strong leadership and for a renunciation of violence by all parties.

PETER WITTIG (Germany) welcomed the agreement on Abyei, saying it paved the way towards addressing pressing humanitarian issues.  The focus was now on implementation, which would be the real litmus test.  There was an urgent need to address the situation in Southern Kordofan, where the military escalation was deeply troubling, he said, strongly condemning the fighting between the Sudan Armed Forces and SPLA, as well as all attacks on civilians.  The obstruction and intimidation of United Nations personnel was unacceptable and must stop, he stressed, condemning as unacceptable the 17 June detention and abuse by the Sudan Armed Forces of four unarmed United Nations peacekeepers.  Outstanding issues relating to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement must be resolved in a peaceful, negotiated manner in the spirit of the accord, including the terms agreed to on Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile, he said, adding that his country’s Foreign Minister would deliver that message during his 22 June visit to Khartoum, Juba and Darfur.

DOCTOR MASHABANE (South Africa) said the deteriorating security situation in Abyei threatened implementation of the peace accord and a reversal of the gains made thus far.  The signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement had promised to usher in a new era in Sudan, and today, that hope had been renewed as the parties, led by the African Union High Level Implementation Panel, had agreed to resolve remaining issues.  The interim agreement signed today did not substitute or prejudge Abyei’s final status, he said, emphasizing that his country would do its part to ensure the agreement’s full implementation.

Expressing grave concern about the security situation in Southern Kordofan, and the clashes between the Sudan Armed Forces and SPLA on 6 June, he said reports of aerial bombardments that had led to civilian displacements were also of concern.  Continuing reports of shooting and looting in Kadugli had created the need for a continued United Nations presence in the area.  South Africa urged the parties to show the resolve and political will to address the current security challenges, and reiterated the call by the recent extraordinary session of the Assembly of the African Union for the parties in Sudan to spare no effort in resolving issues relating to Abyei and post-referendum arrangements.

JOSÉ FILIPE MORAES CABRAL (Portugal) said the accord just signed must end the violence, lead to the re-establishment of humanitarian assistance and the return of all displaced civilians.  Yet, while it was a positive step towards resolving the Abyei issue, Portugal was greatly concerned by the violence in Southern Kordofan, which was causing an alarming rise in internal displacement.  Encouraging the parties to build on the latest positive developments on Abyei, he said it was in neither side’s interest to undermine the progress made thus far.  “Dialogue and political commitment at the highest level is what was needed.”  The role of Mr. Mbeki and other African Union officials would be more decisive than ever in ensuring that the talks stayed on track.  He called on the parties to agree where the demilitarized zone would be located and to consider the presence of an international presence there.

VITALY CURKIN (Russian Federation) welcomed the desire for compromise that had led to the signing of the agreement on Abyei, and expressed hope that it would generate positive momentum so that the parties could reach solutions on all outstanding matters.  The Russian Federation supported the work of UNMIS and the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, as well as that of Mr. Mbeki and other African Union facilitators.

NÉSTOR OSORIO (Colombia) said that despite important progress in implementing the 2005 Agreement, there had been unacceptable acts of violence in recent days.  He firmly condemned the violent loss of life, displacements and human rights violations in Southern Kordofan as unacceptable.  The current crisis illustrated the magnitude of the problem and the need for the parties to overcome their differences in the spirit of compromise and political will.  Underscoring the important efforts of the African Union High Level Implementation Panel, Mr. Mbeki’s leadership and that of other Panel members, as well as the Ethiopian Government’s role, he said the parties must abstain from the use of force, as well as provocation and inflammatory discourse, while renewing the spirit of compromise to negotiate pending issues.  It was also important to respect UNMIS and agreements on security, with the priority being the withdrawal of all armed forces from Abyei and creation of security mechanisms.  It was important to halt the violence in Southern Kordofan, so as to allow in humanitarian aid as well as create an environment conducive to the holding of the popular consultations.

GÉRARD ARAUD (France) said the agreement on Abyei was a major step forward, and welcomed Ethiopia’s commitment to deploy troops in the area.  Implementation was now up to the parties, with the Council’s assistance.  Welcoming the intention, announced by the United States, to submit a draft resolution to the Council that would enable deployment of the Ethiopian forces, he expressed concern, however, that United Nations personnel in Sudan had been subjected to intimidation.  He said information from Southern Kordofan attested to the situation there, which had led to the displacement of more than 60,000 civilians, and he urged a ceasefire to give aid workers access to the area.  There must be representation of all minorities in Southern Kordofan, he emphasized, adding that the lesson from the violence in Abyei was that the peace reached under the Comprehensive Agreement was viable but tenuous.  Today, the United Nations remained justified as long as outstanding issues under the 2005 accord were not fully implemented, and as long as border tensions continued.

IVAN BARBALIĆ (Bosnia and Herzegovina) said his delegation was encouraged by the signing of the accord on Abyei, but nevertheless concerned by the situation there, which was still rife with tension and could undermine the progress made thus far.  It was also concerned about the situation in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile States, and called on the parties to do their utmost to reduce tensions and allow humanitarian assistance for displaced populations.  Regarding border issues, he said the United Nations must maintain its presence after 9 July.  He condemned all attacks against UNMIS personnel, urging all parties to respect the Mission’s mandate and freedom of movement.  The relationship between the North and the South would be directly affected by the outcome of negotiations on the outstanding issues, so leaders from both sides must press ahead with efforts to complete those talks and forge peaceful relations.

HARDEEP SINGH PURI (India) said the security and humanitarian situations in Abyei, Southern Kordofan and other areas had seriously deteriorated over the past few months, a trend that not only highlighted the seriousness of the issues at stake, but also the impact of continuing distrust between the parties.  They must therefore work expeditiously towards resolving the stalemate over Abyei, he said, welcoming the efforts of Mr. Mbeki and other facilitators to help the parties reach agreement on security and economic issues.  Many of the outstanding issues were characterized by “complex historical backgrounds” and resolving them would require both determination and patience, he noted, cautioning that any attempts to enforce solutions or timelines would only provoke mistrust and undermine the progress made thus far.  At the same time, unauthorized and unilateral military actions by ether side would not be in the interest of the Sudanese parties and people, he warned, emphasizing that everyone must refrain from provocative actions

WANG MIN (China), welcoming the interim agreement and the efforts of the African Union High Level Implementation Panel, said the Council should ensure early deployment of the Ethiopian peacekeepers.  He encouraged the North and the South to choose peace and refrain from destructive actions, while expressing hope that both sides would capitalize on the current momentum to reach a comprehensive solution.  He also welcomed the recent meeting in Addis Ababa between Sudan’s President and First Vice-President to discuss pending issues as well as the crisis in Abyei and South Kordofan, saying the Council should encourage the institutionalization of those types of meetings when problems arose.

NAWAF SALAM (Lebanon) stressed the importance of eliminating tensions in Abyei and resuming negotiations on post-referendum and other outstanding issues related to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.  He welcomed the interim agreement signed today and Ethiopia’s readiness to deploy troops to Abyei quickly and rapidly.  He also welcomed the parallel progress made in dealing with the situation in Southern Kordofan, Mr. Mbeki’s efforts in that regard and the progress made in dealing with economic and financial issues.  He called on UNMIS to continue consulting with the relevant parties on the Secretary-General’s proposal to extend its mandate three months.  On Darfur, he called on all parties to the Darfur conflict to implement the outcome document of the All Darfur Stakeholders’ Conference, held recently in Doha, which called for a ceasefire and final settlement of the crisis in the strife-torn western region.

RAFF BUKUN-OLU WOLE ONEMOLA (Nigeria), emphasizing that nothing cast a darker shadow over hopes for peace in Sudan than the spectre of renewed conflict, said his delegation was therefore concerned about the mounting tensions in several regions.  “Fear of the outbreak of fresh hostilities is palpable,” he said, stressing, however, that neither Sudan, nor the international community could afford to allow conflict to undermine the progress made thus far.  Nigeria therefore welcomed the high-level dialogue between Khartoum and Juba, as well as today’s signing of the initial agreement on security arrangements in Abyei.  Both parties must now work assiduously to implement the accord, particularly in terms of removing all military forces from Abyei and the deployment of an interim security force there.

Ongoing discussions, if pursued with seriousness and sincerity, could yield sound agreement on all outstanding issues, he said, adding that the international community must continue to monitor the situation closely, and stand ready to provide assistance as both North and South pressed ahead with political transformations in the coming month.  Expressing concern about the situation in Southern Kordofan, he called on the parties there to allow unhindered access of humanitarian workers and respect the mandate of UNMIS.  As the international community awaited the 9 July announcement of the South Sudan’s official birth, all parties must refrain from provocative actions on the ground.

REGINA MARIA CORDEIRO DUNLOP (Brazil) deplored the clashes in Southern Kordofan and the continuing mistreatment of the civilian population.  She also condemned attacks on and threats against United Nations and relief personnel, urging the parties to continue pressing for full implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.  “They cannot let all that has been achieved unravel in the last mile,” she said, stressing that the North and the South must recommit to ushering in a new reality of two States living side by side in peace.  Both North and South were characterized by great culture, religious and ethnic diversity that must serve as a basis for building two viable and stable States, she added.

Council President NELSON MESSONE (Gabon), speaking in his national capacity, said today’s agreement and briefings were hopeful signs.  He welcomed Ethiopia’s commitment to provide troops, and supported the proposal by the United States to submit a draft resolution in the near future.  Once hostilities ended, both parties must show the political will to overcome the crisis in Abyei and Southern Kordofan.  He invited them to implement the conclusions agreed in Addis Ababa, urging them to use that window of opportunity to restore trust.  Implementing the agreement and supporting the Mbeki Panel was important, he stressed, encouraging both parties to show political will and a spirit of compromise.

Mr. OSMAN (Sudan), taking the floor a second time, recalled that he had tried in his first statement to remain positive about the signing of the interim agreement.  He said he did not wish to remain hostage to events that had preceded it, despite his Government’s reservations concerning popular movements, but the other side had stated inaccuracies concerning Abyei.

He said the Sudan Armed Forces in Abyei had intervened following a very long period of restraint and patience given the failure of the chief of the previous administration of Abyei to comply with the agreements and not withdraw his troops.  Moreover, the South had tried to distort the facts on the ground, after its forces had attacked and killed many Sudan Armed Forces solders.  “We had no other choice but to intervene,” he said, recalling that the Government of Sudan had stated that the presence of its armed forces in Abyei was a temporary one.  However, it had been forced by events to keep its armed troops on the ground.  Concerning the latest developments in Southern Kordofan, he recalled that on 4 June, SPLA forces had attacked the Sudan Armed Forces and the police force in the city of Umm Dorain.  On 6 June, SPLA had again attacked the city of Kadugli in order to take control of it.  Those attacks had caused the deaths of many Sudan Armed Forces soldiers, police, as well as civilians, he said, adding that tens of thousands of civilians had been forced to leave the state.

Noting that the Council had never condemned SPLA’s actions, he said there had been “very timid” condemnation following the attack.  The failure to condemn such attacks encouraged the parties involved to continue them, he warned, recalling that the outcome of the attacks had been the deaths of many Sudan Armed Force soldiers.  However, the situation in Southern Kordofan was under control and life was returning to normal, he said, calling on the Council to send a firm message condemning SPLA’s violations in Southern Kordofan and urging it to withdraw its forces.  The Government of Sudan was sincere in its desire to find a radical solution to the situation in Abyei and Southern Kordofan, he reaffirmed.  “We urge the other side to end this war and to end what is taking us backwards.”

Mr. GATKUOTH, representing the Government of South Sudan, also took the floor a second time to reiterate the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement’s (SPLM) commitment to peace, for which it had yearned for years.  “Wars are not good; we have fought enough of them in Sudan,” he said, calling for the full implementation of all aspects of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.  Recalling that the Ngok Dinka people had historically been enslaved or driven from the region, he stressed that the issue of their return and ultimate survival must be addressed.  He also called for cooperation on reaching a comprehensive deal, including on resource-sharing, which could benefit both North and South.  Finally, he urged the National Congress Party to accept a democratic transformation in the North, emphasizing that Khartoum must accept the country’s diversity “because if the North becomes unstable, the South will be affected”.

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*     The 6558th Meeting was closed.

For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.