Sudanese Oil Violence, Post Referendum
by Ann Garrison
Host David Rosenberg or Cameron Jones: The Southern Sudanese people voted for independence from Northern Sudan in January of this year. But the hotly contested oil rich Abyei region, between the districts now scheduled to join the independent states of North and South Sudan, did not vote with the rest of the country because North and South could not agree as to who would be eligible to vote. Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir vowed that he would not agree to Abyei becoming part of the South. This week clashes broke out again in Abyei, and the death toll is already reported to be over 100. KPFA’s Ann Garrison has more.
KPFA/Ann Garrison: Some sources claim that the Misseriya herdsmen identified with the North attacked the Dinka Ngok farmers identified with the South, but Government of Southern Sudan spokesperson Marial Benjamin Barnaba blamed the Sudanese Army and Popular Defense Forces loyal to Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir.
Marial Benjamin Barnaba: “The areas being attacked are north of Abyei and the people on the attack are the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Popular Defense Forces. This morning at nine fifty am, Makir village was completely burned down by the Sudanese Armed Forces which is being claimed to be Misseriya. And other attacks are pending. The citizens of Abyei, the Ngok Dinka in this areas, they have been moving southwards because of these continuous attacks and in fact most of the causalities have been the local police, plus the civilian population.”
KPFA: Nile Fortune Editor and Contributor Mugume Rwakaringi told KPFA that the people of Abyei are trapped between the counter accusations of Khartoum and Juba, the capitols of Northern and Southern Sudan, and that traditional Misseriya herdsmen and Dinka Ngok farmers would peacefully co-exist, if not for the oil thirst of the outside forces driving the conflict.
In January, as soon as the votes for independence had been counted in Southern Sudan, Massachusetts Senator and former presidential candidate John Kerry declared the U.S.A. would not leave Abyei behind.
John Kerry: “Let’s be clear. Even as today marks the end of one journey and the beginning of another, a lot of work remains ahead in the very new term in the next months of the CPA before July 9th, in order to resolve outstanding issues regarding oil revenues, borders, and of course Abyei and Darfur. Abyei is front and center on the agenda even today. Abyei is not being left behind, Abyei is not being forgotten.
KPFA: Mugume Rwakaringi’s essay, “Who should save the Abyei people?” will be available tomorrow on the websites of the San Francisco Bay View and AfrobeatRadio. For Pacifica, KPFA and AfrobeatRadio, I’m Ann Garrison.