Saturday, January 24, 2004

Sudan: some agreement on two of the three disputed regions

It appears that there may be agreement on the status of two of the disputed regions. The Blue Nile and Nuba Mountain regions will be granted autonomy for six years, followed by a referendum. This agreement is only in principle and nothing has been committed to paper yet. The status of the oil-rich Abyei region is still being negotiated.
... the SPLA wants Abyei to be included within the territory of Bahr-el-Ghazal, which it controls. The government wants to administer Abyei through the office of the president. (link)
Earlier this week, Sudan's Energy Minister, Awad Ahmed El-Gaz, told a Paris news conference that control of Abyei would be shared by President Omar al-Beshir and SPLA leader John Garang "as he will be vice president".

All of this is a surprise as President al-Beshir had said the negotiators in Kenya do not have the mandate to address the issue of the three regions.

In a related story ... SPLA/M has begun demobilizing child soldiers from the western Upper Nile region. UNICEF estimates it has helped demobilize about 12,000 SPLA/M children since late 2001.
It added, however, that about 2,500 children would "for the time being" remain in the SPLA even after the western Upper Nile demobilisations were complete, many of them in areas that remained insecure.