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Sudan, South Sudan dispute Abyei region
by Staff Writers
Juba, South Sudan (UPI) Aug 27, 2012

disclaimer: image is for illustration purposes only

South Sudan has accused Sudan of "deliberately" keeping troops in the disputed Abyei region and claims Khartoum intends to provoke armed conflict.

"They continue to keep their troops in Abyei against international calls to withdraw from the area and are now talking of sending a committee to (administer the area) without any basis," said Edward Lino, chairman of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement, which rules South Sudan.

"Sudan had deliberately defied United Nations Resolution 2046 and the African Union road map."

Lino claims Sudan has more than three "fully equipped" companies of its military north of Abyei. The forces are said to have heavy artillery and tanks inside territorial jurisdiction of Abyei area.

"Such behavior shows that the government of Sudan is not ready for peaceful settlement," Lino was quoted by The Sudan Tribune as saying.

South Sudan, proclaimed independence on July 9, 2011, the result of an internationally observed referendum in January 2011 to determine if the South Sudan should split from Sudan. Nearly 99 percent of voters opted for independence.

The referendum was embodied in the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed between the Sudanese government and the SPLM, which had been fighting for independence since 1983. The CPA ended a half a century of civil war in Sudan, which left 2 million dead.

Abyei's status was supposed to be determined through a vote originally intended to be conducted simultaneously with that of South Sudan on independence but the plebiscite stalled due to disagreements between Sudanese and South Sudanese leaders on who had the right to vote.

The CPA stated that northern and southern Sudan would equally split the revenue from oil exports. Prior to South Sudan's declaration of independence, most of Sudan's 500,000 barrel-per-day output was extracted from oilfields in the south while pipelines infrastructure and refineries are based in the north. The CPA stipulated that the South would pay transit fees to transport its oil and ship it abroad from Port Sudan terminal. Sudan and South Sudan have argued about oil transit fees since independence.

The International Monetary Fund estimates that oil income is responsible for more than half of government revenue and 90 percent of export earnings for Sudan, while in South Sudan, oil accounts for a staggering 98 percent of the government's total revenues.

Seeing the shift of income as a source of future potential conflict, the IMF estimates that, aside from the oil transit closure, the July 2011 secession of South Sudan could cost Sudan more than $7.7 billion in lost revenues by 2016.

Sudan continues to maintain a small police oil force in Difra in northern Abyei stating that the activities of rebel groups in South Kordofan justifies its presence there to protect oil facilities.

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