Ban welcomes South Sudan’s withdrawal from Abyei

14 May 2012

Ban welcomes South Sudan’s withdrawal from Abyei

12 May 2012 - Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today welcomed South Sudan's decision to withdraw its police force from the disputed Abyei area, and strongly urged neighbouring Sudan to pull its forces out as well.

The withdrawal is in accordance with an agreement both parties signed in June last year.

Mr. Ban also urged the two countries' governments to immediately establish the Abyei Area Administration, which is necessary to normalize the situation there,

"The Secretary-General urges the governments of Sudan and South Sudan to resume negotiations under the auspices of the African Union High-Level Panel to resolve the outstanding issues between them," said a statement issued by the spokesperson of the Secretary-General.

Mr. Ban called on both governments to activate the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism to ensure security along their border.

The Security Council established the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) in June last year, following an outbreak of violence after Sudanese troops took control of the area.

Sudan's takeover of Abyei displaced tens of thousands of people weeks before South Sudan became independent in July 2011 after seceding from Sudan.

A referendum that would have determined the status of Abyei in January last year failed to take place amid disagreements on voter eligibility.

Efforts to establish temporary administrative arrangements for Abyei also foundered because both sides were reluctant to withdraw their forces from the area.