In an effort to reduce the number of United Nations peacekeeping force, Sudan and South Sudan have been given six month by the Security Council to agree and put in place a joint monitoring force in a disputed region on the border between the two countries, the UN announced yesterday.
In a statement, the UNSC said the peacekeeping mission in Abyei, which has been in place since 2011 had already been reduced from 5,326 troops to 4,791 following a decision by the council to reduce its spending in the area.
The statement also called on the two sides to uphold commitments to resume border demarcation talks. In July 2009, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague shrunk the disputed area and placed the Heglig oil field under the control of the Sudanese government but did not finalise the demarcation of a defined border between to two nations.
The UN threatened to reduce or withdraw the peacekeeping mission if the two sides delayed the installation of joint forces any longer. South Sudan’s ambassador, Joseph Moum Malok, told the council that the UN peacekeeping mission “is the best thing that has happened to Abyei in its long history of struggle” toward promoting peace and stability.
He warned that withdrawal of UN support “will negatively impact” on the implementation of the agreement between the two countries “by emboldening each side to take a more combative posture along the border.”
Sudan’s Charge d’affaires, Magdi Ahmed Mofadal, told the council that in order to activate the border monitoring mechanism, South Sudan must keep its commitments “in order to create the safe, demilitarized border zone.”
He said the Sudanese government is committed to implementing the decisions of political meetings that were held on Abyei held in Addis Ababa on Sunday and Monday. He expressed hope that they “will constitute a new start to normalize relations between the two countries, and to address any concerns, especially security concerns”, Mofadal said.