Abyei: Between the Two Sudans

Edited volume

Deng, Francis M.; Luka Biong Deng Kuol & Daniel Jok M. Deng, eds, (2020) Abyei: Between the Two Sudans. Trenton, New Jersey: Red Sea Press.

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Abyei of the Ngok Dinka is currently contested between the Republics of Sudan and South Sudan. The land has been invaded twice by the Sudanese army since the signing of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) between the Sudan Government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement and its Army, SPLM/A. After the last invasion in 2011, Sudan was persuaded to withdraw its troops and the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei, UNISFA, was established to provide interim protection for the population, which it now does, albeit with limitations in the mandate and territorial coverage. The CPA grants the people of Abyei dual citizenship pending the resolution of the final status.

The Government of South Sudan has established and supports a much appreciated, though modest, administration that is not recognized by the Sudan and the international community. Abeyi receives nothing but insecurity from the Sudan Government, despite its claims of sovereignty over the area. It is now in a state of virtual statelessness, without the services and security protection normally associated with sovereignty as entailing the responsibility for service delivery and the protection of the citizens.

Some Southerners, including prominent personalities, echo the official position of the Sudan that Abeyi remains a dominion of the Sudan, until its status is formally resolved. The authors of Abyei Between the Two Sudans make the case that Abyei is indeed part and parcel of South Sudan, as demonstrated by the role the Ngok Dinka have played in promoting the cause of the South nationally, regionally and internationally, and specifically in the wars of liberation in which they distinguished themselves for their bravery, discipline and unwavering commitment to the national cause of the South.

The book also reveals that Abyei is an area of paradoxes which, though contested, has historically served, and could still serve, as a constructive ‘Bridge’ of peace, reconciliation and cooperation between the two border communities, extending to their respective two neighboring countries, the Two Sudans.

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