Tuesday, 22 March 2011

South Sudan asks UN to send new peacekeeping force to border

Pagan Amum, Ban Ki-moon and SPLM North America representative Ezekiel Lol Gakouth 

The UN Security Council met on Monday 21st March to discuss the situation in Sudan, and Pagan Amum, secretary-general of the South's Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) said he asked the council to consider deploying a new peacekeeping force at the border.

According to AllAfrica, the meeting was an unofficial sitting of the council, held in response to a request from a people's organisation in the US on the disputed Abyei region, although this has not been confirmed.

In a statement to Sudan's SUNA newspaper, Khalid Musa, the spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the request for an unofficial meeting reflects an 'unjustifiable trend towards escalation' on behalf of the South, resulting from the failure of some circles in South Sudan to solve their own political issues.

Musa said the Sudan's envoy to the UN had made available all the facts for the Security Council and reiterated his government's commitment to the peaceful solution of all issues.

Speaking after the meeting, Amum said that the UN would be involved in investigating the Northern National Congress Party's aid to the renegade general, George Athor, that the SPLM/A is currently fighting. The south has in recent weeks accused the north of working to destabilise the South, and has recently withdrawn from talks.

The two sides have also bickered over UN Mission in Sudan head Haile Menkerios's flying to Abyei on a UN helicopter with Ahmed Haroun, an NCP member who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes in Darfur.

Amum said that Menkerios was wrong for flying with Haroun, but according to Inner City Press, UN Peacekeeping Assistant Secretary-General Atul Khare criticised the SPLM for not granting it access.

South Sudan is preparing to declare its independence from Sudan in July, following an independence referendum in January, but the transition preparations have been overshadowed by violence in recent weeks. There has been considerable violence in the disputed border area of Abyei, as well as within South Sudan between supporters of rebel general Athor and the SPLA.

Amum said he asked the council to think about deploying a new peacekeeping force to the border, but it is not yet clear how that request was received.

Sources: Canadian Press, Inner City Press, AllAfrica

For more information, please see the Menas Borders website, here.

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