The contested region of Abyei recently held a “unilateral” referendum to determine whether it will remain part of Sudan or be restored to South Sudan, a move analysts fear could fuel conflict in the region. The Oct. 27-9 referendum on Abyei followed repeated delays in the vote, which was initially planned for January 2011 as part of a deal under the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) designed to bring the civil war in Sudan to an end. The sticking point has been Khartoum’s insistence that Misseriya pastoralists, many of whom served alongside Sudan’s government forces during the civil war, and who spend six months of the year in Abyei’s pastureland, be allowed to take part.
The Ngok Dinka community, Abyei’s main permanent residents who largely backed the southern rebels during the war, overwhelmingly voted to join South Sudan in the poll. “The referendum committee has announced the results, and the number of people who have chosen to become part of South Sudan is 99.9% of the vote,” Kenya’s Daily Nation quotes Luka Biong, the spokesman for the Abyei Referendum High Committee, as saying.
Those allowed to vote were the Ngok Dinka and others with permanent abode in Abyei, as recommended by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague in 2009, according to a Small Arms Survey (SAS) report. The Misseriya on Oct. 29 said they would hold a counter-referendum in November, according to Radio Miraya, a Juba-based UN radio station.
From the Integrated Regional Information Network (IRIN), Nov. 1