Killing the Sultan

BANKIE F BANKIE of the Sudan Sensitization Project discusses the recent assassination of the Paramount Chief of Abyei and its implications on peace in the troubled region. He says that because Abyei is a bridge between North and South Sudan, developments there have a great impact on the two territories’ futures.

The Paramount Chief of the Ngok Dinka of Abyei, Kuol Deng Majok, was killed by a Misseriya Arab Militia in Abyei, South Sudan, on the fourth of May 2013
An extract from the statement made on the current situation in Sudan by Abdul Mohammed, an Ethiopian,  Chief of Staff, The Darfur High Level Implementation Panel (HIP)  of the African Union (AU), delivered on May 18, 2013 at the Civil Society Forum  on Sudan and South Sudan, held Addis Abba, Ethiopia, 16-18 May, 2013 read:
“On the Abyei issue the two Presidents are the custodians of the Abyei process. Apart from the security situation, the two parties are to establish joint operations (eg police) and there will be a Joint Oversight Committee.
“These three options were not fully implemented. The killing of the Paramount Chief in Abyei has set back the process. The situation in Abyei had been steadily militarised. However it had recently been agreed by both sides to demilitarise Abyei.
“The idea of a referendum, which the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) of 2005 had provided for – this referendum idea has returned.
“The movement of the Misseriya, being able to freely migrate through Abyei with their herds of animals, is strongly demanded by the North.”
The African Union (AU) has to find a Pan-African solution – this is the “soft borders” solution.
There are the colonial borders and there are the “People’s” borders. In the long-run it is the people’s borders that matter.
(Former South African President Thabo) Mbeki (mediator in the Sudan crisis) has always insisted that African borders are like scrambled eggs.
Forty percent of the people of Sudan live in the North-South border area. People live on the border for trade purposes.
The “soft border” could be buried and cease to be a major issue. Or the border could be a long-term source of division.
The killing of the Sultan was divisive. The Sultan was a believer in “soft borders”, within the African tradition. He had never been heard to exclude the Misseriya or “Arabs”.
The “soft borders” concept is inclusive of other groups such as the Rezeigat Arabs. The AU had intended to link the soft borders concept to its 50th anniversary in 2013.
A juncture has been reached where the North and South cannot rule in the same old way. Either one or both have to change their style of governance.
Without a change of style there cannot be a constitutional solution, as a conflict resolution mechanism. The AU mandate of the AUHIP expires in July 2013.
• Bankie F Bankie’s work can be followed at www.bankie.info. He is based in Windhoek, Namibia.

June 2013
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