JUBA – South Sudan government has rejected a Sudanese call for withdrawal, from Abyei, of Ethiopian troops serving under the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) saying it does not agree with the call as long as the Ethiopian troops are serving professional as provided for in their mandate.
In April, Sudanese foreign minister Mariam Sadig Al Mahdi claimed in an interview with the pan-Arab Al-Hadath news channel that Ethiopia showed “unacceptable intransigence” in the talks over the GERD and that its decision to proceed with the second phase of the filling of its reservoir is contrary to international law.
In a statement following the visit of the United Nations Undersecretary for Peacekeeping Operations Jean Pierre Lacroix to South Sudan last week, South Sudan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said discussions between the top UN peacekeeping envoy and senior government officials, as well as with President Salva Kiir Mayardit, focused on the status of the Ethiopian peacekeepers in Abyei.
“The discussions touched on the status of the United Nations Interim Force for Abyei Area (UNISFA) in view of the call by our sisterly country the Sudan for the withdrawal of the Ethiopian Contingent from UNISFA,” the foreign ministry said in a statement on Thursday.
The statement further said it has rejected the call by Sudan to replace the Ethiopian peacekeepers in the disputed territory and reiterated South Sudan’s call for the determination of the final status of the enclave.
“In this context, the Republic of South Sudan would like to make it clear that it does not concur with the call for the withdrawal of the Ethiopian contingent of UNISFA as this force continues to fulfill its mandate professionally and impartially,” the statement said.
“The Government of the Republic of South Sudan reiterates its call for settling the issue of the final status of Abyei through a political process,” it added.
It further stressed that the “people of Abyei have suffered enormously over the years, with tens of thousands having been displaced from most of their villages north and east of Abyei town. The need to end their plight could not be more imperative.”