Deal on Sudan’s Abyei Region Coming Apart

Posted June 15th, 2011 at 7:50 am (UTC-5)
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A reported deal to ease tensions in Sudan's disputed Abyei region appears to be unraveling, as negotiations drag into a fourth day.

VOA correspondent Peter Heinlein is at the scene of the talks in Addis Ababa. He says that according a source involved in the talks, points which were previously settled have come unsettled, and the deal may be coming apart.

The African Union said Monday that north and south Sudan had agreed to “demilitarize” Abyei and allow Ethiopian peacekeepers into the area. Northern forces occupied Abyei last month, prompting tens of thousands of area residents to flee.

Heinlein says negotiations to end fighting in Sudan's Southern Kordofan state have also hit a setback. An southern Sudanese official said Wednesday that there is no deal, dashing hopes for a cease-fire.

The U.N. humanitarian affairs office says fighting in Southern Kordofan between the northern army and local pro-southern fighters has displaced 60,000 people.

Late Tuesday, U.S. President Barack Obama called on the north Sudanese government to stop what he called its “campaign of intimidation” along the north-south border.

In an audio message, first aired on VOA, he also said the leaders of both north and south Sudan must live up to their responsibilities and agree to end the violence.

He said if they flout their obligations, they will face international pressure and isolation and will be held accountable for their actions.

Both north and south Sudan claim ownership of Abyei. The dispute there and in Southern Kordofan has raised fears of a renewed war in Sudan as the south prepares to declare independence July 9.

North and south Sudan fought a 21-year that ended with a 2005 peace deal. The south voted overwhelmingly to split from the north in a January referendum.