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Abyei: Pull back from the brink or else

Hassan Faroog
Will history repeat itself with another senseless war because of one soldier’s transgression? A senior government official who resigned in protest of GoS’s handling of the Abyei crisis says the reaction of SAF has…
8.06.2011  |  Khartoum
أببي.. من يستطيع التنبؤ بمصيرها؟
أببي.. من يستطيع التنبؤ بمصيرها؟

The incident began with a \"mindless action of a Sudan People\'s Liberation Army (SPLA) soldier opening fire unsystematically and in an unintended way. The reaction of the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) was to open fire in all directions.\"

This is how Luka Biong, Minister of Cabinet Affairs of the Republic of Sudan, justified his resignation, describing it as an act of protest against the occupation of Abyei by SAF.

One day before the north\'s move into Abyei, SAF troops and UN peacekeepers were attacked while withdrawing from the region. According to the UN Security Council, the attack was carried out by southern forces.

\"Does such an act require such a response by the government?\"
Luka Biong

Biong asks: \"Does such an act require such a response by the government? Have I not told you that they do not have a long-term vision on the future of Sudan?\"

He recalls al-Basus, the name of a medieval conflict between two Arab clans that escalated into a forty-year war. It all started over a camel owned by a woman, al-Basus, but the cycle of vengeance between the Bakr and Taghlib clans resulted in one of the longest wars ever documented.

\"I have always aimed at good north-south relations and looked forward to a peaceful future for Sudan,\" said Biong. \"However, I have also noticed that the National Congress Party (NCP) does not consider these facts.\"

Biong wonders if Abyei will be a 21st century version of al-Basus.

The events in Abyei triggered his abrupt resignation, he said, \"because dissolving Abyei\'s Administration, the occupation of the town by SAF and declaring it a war zone are clear violations of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.\"

The presence of SAF in Abyei is a \"serious violation\" of north-south peace accords.
UN Security Council

On Friday, the UN Security Council ordered Khartoum to withdraw its forces immediately from Abyei, calling their presence a \"serious violation\" of north-south peace accords.

Reactions to Biong\'s resignation varied. Ibrahim Ghandour, an NCP prominent leader, saw Luka’s resignation as \"his own business\".

But the head of the Sudan People\'s Liberation Movement (SLPM), Atim Garang, supported Biong\'s decision, saying, \"Luka couldn\'t bear the subjection of his people and chose to resign as a protest against injustice.\"

The resignation of Luka Biong sends a message that will not close the door blown open by the recent violence.

In the latest stage of the conflict, the SAF has assigned one of its own leaders as military governor of Abyei. The SPLM\'s leader in the north, Malik Aggar, has threatened to retaliate if the north moves any closer to southern forces.

Abyei and the whole of the Sudanese nation are condemned to a bleak future if the turmoil continues.