JUBA – President Salva Kiir Mayardit on Tuesday reiterated his readiness to achieve the final status of the disputed Abyei region, but then said his government’s cooperation with Sudan on the matter will benefit the Ngok Dinka of the disputed territory.
This comes after Abyei diplomat and academic Francis Mading Deng called for an independent state in Abyei and after First Vice President Dr. Riek Machar Teny called for recognition of the informal 2013 referendum in which Dinka Ngok voted overwhelmingly to join South Sudan.
In a statement on Tuesday afternoon, Kiir said South Sudan is at the epicenter of efforts to achieve permanent peace in Sudan, something he said has earned the country praises and recognition among the regional and international community.
“It is, therefore, essential to resolve the Abyei conflict in a manner that reinforces and benefits from this spirit of goodwill. Cooperation with Sudan will expand the South Sudanese economy and create opportunities for our people, and it will equally avoid conflict’s devastating impacts on both countries,” he said.
“In conflict and cooperation, the border communities along the border between Sudan and South Sudan have the most to gain and lose. We urge all citizens to consider the value of this foreign policy approach and embrace conflict transformation as the most desirable path forwards for the Ngok Dinka of Abyei and the peoples of our two republics,” he added.
The president requested the people of Abyei to “use the available instruments to support them through this interim period. In May of 2021, I formed a high-level committee working diligently with their counterparts in Sudan to achieve this final status.”
“They are accessible to the communities of Abyei to voice their concerns and feed into the policy-making process of achieving the final status. I commend you for your civic activism in keeping the issue of Abyei alive and urge you to express your opinions to this committee,” the president added.
“I also want to take this opportunity to reiterate that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation is the government of South Sudan’s focal point for building, maintaining, and progressing bilateral relations.
It serves the people of South Sudan and handles disputes with other countries, such as the final status of Abyei. The Ministry’s close work with the high-level committee and UNISFA allows a holistic approach to address the Abyei communities’ concerns adequately.
“As Abyei consolidates its current status within South Sudan, the Ngok Dinka and other border communities will benefit from our cooperation with Khartoum. We will place the interest of the Ngok Dinka squarely within this cooperation policy that focuses on peace and development.”