Abyei Pressures Two Sudans for Resolution

The non-binding referendum in Abyei – where people voted overwhelmingly to join South Sudan – and the ensuing celebration, has brought little immediate resolution to the long-festering Abyei problem.

Caught Between Two Sudans

When Chris Bak returned two weeks ago to the disputed border town of Abyei, which voted this week on whether to join Sudan or South Sudan, he barely recognised it as the place where he grew up. “Everything is dirty,” he told IPS. “We were just going around and around, but we didn’t [recognise] this place.”

One of the reasons the Abyei region is disputed is that it offers grazing land for cattle, which are valued in Sudan and South Sudan for their intrinsic wealth. Credit: Charlton Doki/IPS

Abyei Region Still a Stumbling Block between South Sudan, Sudan

Pressure from ethnic groups along the border, security concerns, and keen interest in resources like oil and land are making it difficult for Sudan and South Sudan – the world’s newest country - to resolve their dispute over the fertile, oil-rich region of Abyei and demarcate their common border. Speaking in Turkey on Monday, Sudan’s first vice president, Ali Osman Taha, called for a referendum to resolve the issue.