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Sudanese government presents proposals for resolving Abyei issue

The Sudanese government on Tuesday presented a package of proposals to resolve the issue of country's disputed oil-rich area of Abyei, which included deploying African troops and appointing a new chairmanship for the area on rotation between north and south Sudan.

"The proposals presented by the government include the importance of keeping the current status, (in which) the northern Sudan army is in north of Bahral-Arab and the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) in south of Bahral-Arab, without being involved in any administrative tasks until a final solution is reached with the conduction of the referendum," Khalid Musa, spokesman of Sudanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said in a statement on Tuesday.

"It is also possible to utilize the UN peacekeepers currently present in Abyei after we replace them with more efficient troops of African nature in accordance with specific duties and mandate, and with the participation of joint north-south forces to be deployed in north of Bahral-Arab, in addition to community police from the two sides," he added.

He went on saying that "the proposals further include the appointment of a new chairmanship for Abyei administration to be on rotation between north and south Sudan, with guarantees that no administrative, political or security decision on Abyei would be taken without the consent of the two parties.

And the chairmanship of the new Abyei administration should be under the responsibility of the presidency of the republic until July 8, 2011." The statement urged the international community to live up to its responsibilities of ensuring the full implementation of the agreement via supporting the ongoing negotiations to assimilate the northern Sudanese from the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile areas, who are part of the SPLA, and completing the redeployment of the SPLA in south of the 1956 borders before July 9, 2011.

In the meantime, the Sudanese government praised the understandings reached in Addis Ababa between the Sudanese peace partners, the National Congress Party (NCP) and Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), under the patronage of the African Union (AU) High-level Implementation Panel for Sudan, particularly their agreement to secure their joint borders and establish a joint political and security mechanism comprising of all the concerned authorities to enhance the security and monitor the border.

The AU on Tuesday announced that north and south Sudan have agreed to establish a common demilitarized border zone. The AU said the agreement, which was signed in Addis Ababa on Monday evening, also detailed the establishment of a joint political and security mechanism for north and south Sudan, which would be headed by the two ministers of defense and include the chiefs of staff of the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and the SPLA, the heads of intelligence and police, and other senior officials, to ensure that the two parties can maintain stable and secure relations.

The Sudanese parties' agreement came 10 days after the SAF had controlled the disputed area of Abyei. Meanwhile, Vice President of south Sudan government Riek Machar announced Monday in Khartoum that north and south Sudan had agreed to form a joint committee to defuse the tension in Abyei.

A referendum on Abyei was supposed to be held on Jan. 9, 2011, coincident with the south Sudan referendum, but was postponed in the wake of a difference between the NCP and SPLM over who has the right to vote in the referendum.

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