Sudan: Govt Accuses U.S. of Seeking to Open ‘Gate From Hell’ Over Abyei Referendum


Khartoum — The Sudanese foreign minister Ali Ahmed Karti has lambasted the United States and accused it of trying to open a “gate from hell” between Sudan and South Sudan over the disputed area of Abyei, saying that the newly appointed envoy Donald Booth is not welcome to mediate on the issue.

United States Special Envoy to Sudan & South Sudan Donald Booth (L) meeting with the Sudanese Co-Chair of the Abyei Joint Oversight Committee al-Khair al-Fahim in Khartoum Saturday September 13, 2013 (SUNA)

Booth who arrived in Khartoum this week in his first visit to the region since his appointment, has met on Saturday with al-Khair al-Fahim, the Sudanese Co-Chair of the Abyei Joint Oversight Committee who communicated to him Sudan’s categorical rejection of holding Abyei referendum next October per the plan submitted last year by the African Union (AU) mediation team.

The AU proposal states that only those residing permanently in the area would be allowed to vote in the plebiscite and decide whether they want to join Sudan or South Sudan.

This proposal would effectively make the majority of voters come from the Dinka Ngok tribe, aligned with South Sudan, thus putting the Arab Misseriya nomads, who spend several months in Abyei every year grazing, outside the voting population.

The Sudanese government however, swiftly rejected the AU plan and insisted that the Misseriya should be allowed to participate in the referendum.

Karti, who was speaking to reporters in Khartoum airport prior to leaving for a conference on Somalia in Brussels said that his government will not allow the U.S. to use Abyei as a “thorn in the throat” of Sudan and South Sudan and pointed that Washington is not qualified for determining Sudan’s relations with other countries.

The visibly angry Foreign Minister stressed that Sudan will not allow the US envoy to mediate in Abyei issue and accused Washington of trying to exploit the only remaining issue of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) to sour relations between Khartoum and Juba.

He told reporters that president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir and South Sudan president Salva Kiir Mayardit, have agreed in their recent meeting in Khartoum on setting up the civil and police institutions in Abyei and make the transitional arrangement, accusing unnamed parties in Juba of by bringing up the issue of Abyei.