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Sudan: Steps To Ease Tensions In Disputed Abyei

Top UN official in Sudan welcomes step to ease disputed Abyei area

9 August 2008 - The senior United Nations official in Sudan today welcomed the appointment of two top administrators to Abyei, a disputed area in the centre of the country whose status was not resolved in the 2005 peace deal ending the long-running north-south civil war.

Ashraf Qazi, the Secretary-General's Special Representative in Sudan and the head of the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS), said in a statement that he hoped yesterday's presidential decree will lead to further progress in efforts to ease tensions after deadly fighting in and around Abyei in May.

Under the decree, Arop Mayak Mony Toc of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) - the group that were the southern rebels during the war - was appointed Chief Administrator of the interim Abyei Area Administration and Rahama Abdelrahman Al-Nour of the National Congress Party (NCP) was chosen as Deputy Administrator.

The appointments are in line with a road map agreement struck by the two sides on 8 June after the fighting subsided in Abyei, an oil-rich area which lies close to the boundary between northern and southern Sudan.

Tens of thousands of residents of Abyei fled to surrounding areas after the May violence, which came three years after the signing of the comprehensive peace agreement (CPA) ending one of Africa's longest and bloodiest conflicts.

"He encourages the two parties to continue to move ahead with implementation of the remaining road map provisions so that those displaced by May's fighting can soon return in safety and dignity to resume their lives in a secure environment," according to today's statement from Mr. Qazi, which was released in Khartoum.

Those steps include the final withdrawal from the area of the armed forces of the two sides, and the full deployment of joint integrated units and joint integrated police units.

Mr. Qazi pledged that the UN stands ready to assist any efforts to further ease tensions and he called on the international donor community to help fund the reconstruction of the town of Abyei, which was largely destroyed in the fighting.

ENDS

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