May 30, 2011
The recent violence in the Sudanese region of Abyei threatens the fragile peace between the North and the emerging independent South. Just over a week ago, Northern Sudanese bombed the town of Abyei, and invaded with heavily armed ground forces. President Bashir declared an end to the joint North and South Abyei administration. Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) have refused to leave the disputed region, despite international calls from the United Nations, the United States, and other countries to remove troops and resolve issues diplomatically through dialogue. The May 19 attack in Southern Sudan on a United Nations convoy that was lawfully transporting a SAF company is clearly unacceptable. An investigation of the incident has been called for by SPLA spokesperson, Philip Aguer. The SAF response is irresponsible and uncalled-for. These actions are blatant violations of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement. The conflict has displaced Sudanese from their homes, disrupted their way of life, and is endangering a well constructed, diplomatic, and democratic peace process.
To make matters worse, the UN now reports that the North may now be attempting to repopulate the area with non-resident members of the Misseriya. The people of Abyei have suffered severely, as the recent violence triggered a flood of internal displacement. This highlights the fragility of the peace process, and calls for immediate international attention. These violent invasions cannot be tolerated, and it is imperative that there be an immediate cessation of hostilities on all sides.
As co-chairs of the Sudan Caucus, we call on Sudanese Armed Forces to immediately cease all offensive operations in the area. Both the North and South must follow through with the implementation of the Kadugli Agreements, and withdraw all unauthorized forces in Abyei. Unfettered access for the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) is crucial to stabilizing the situation. Congressional attention must be paid to the failure of both the North and the South to end hostilities and withdraw forces, as such hostile action would set back the potential normalization of relations between Sudan and the United States. President Bashir and First Vice President Kiir must meet immediately to agree on a way forward that restores calm. Both sides must recommit to a negotiated political settlement on the future status of Abyei. Continued violence threatens the fragile gains made in the peace process thus far.
The Sudan Caucus is a bipartisan Congressional Member Organization dedicated to serving as a central location for information on developments in Sudan, for purposes of coordinating congressional action and partnering with constituency groups in support of comprehensive peace in Sudan.
Contact: Alison M. Mills (Rep. Capuano) 617-621-6208