Ethiopian Peacekeepers to Exit Sudan’s Abyei Region in 3 Months

UN has reportedly agreed to Sudan’s demands that Ethiopian forces leave the Abyei region as tensions between the two countries continue to escalate over the Nile dam and a disputed border region.

“It was agreed to withdraw the Ethiopian component from the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) during the next three months at the request of Sudan,” a Sudan Foreign Ministry statement read.

Abyei, a disputed territory between Sudan and South Sudan, has no government or police force and has been the scene of numerous cattle rustlings, hijackings, and other robberies. UNISFA, a UN peacekeeping mission, is responsible for overseeing demilitarisation and maintaining security in the area.

Sudan demanded the replacement of the Ethiopian peacekeepers in April after accusing Addis Ababa of amassing troops in disputed territory in the eastern Al-Fashaga region.

Also, there is a dispute between the two countries over the hydroelectric Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (Gerd). Sudan relies on the river for its water supply.

According to Minister of Foreign Affairs Maryam El Sadig El Mahdi, “it is not reasonable to have Ethiopian forces in the strategic depth of Sudan at a time when the Ethiopian forces are gathering on the eastern borders of Sudan.”

Speaking in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, El Mahdi explained that “Ethiopia has shown unacceptable intransigence in the Renaissance Dam negotiations and that its decision to fill the Renaissance Dam again is contrary to international law.”

Minister El Mahdi also referred to “the Ethiopian encroachment on the eastern borders,” underlining that “there are great interests for Ethiopia in Sudan that must be preserved.”

The minister said Sudan would review its relations with Ethiopia and cooperation agreements, but reassured Ethiopian immigrants and refugees that they won’t be affected.

The Abyei region was accorded “special administrative status” by the 2004 Protocol on the Resolution of the Abyei Conflict that ended the Second Sudanese Civil War. Under the terms of the Abyei Protocol, the Abyei area was considered, on an interim basis, to be simultaneously part of both the Republic of South Sudan and the Republic of Sudan.

UNISFA was deployed to the disputed Abyei region between Sudan and South Sudan days before the independence of South Sudan in 2011.

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