US urges swift implementation of Sudan Abyei deal

United Nations – US Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice called on Monday for swift implementation of an agreement between north and south Sudan to demilitarize the disputed Abyei region.

In remarks to the UN Security Council, she also called for the immediate deployment of Ethiopian troops to the Abyei region, which is rumored to have significant oil reserves and straddles north and south Sudan.
Rice added that the United States would begin drafting a UN Security Council resolution that would authorize their deployment.
"We welcome the news that the parties have just signed an agreement on temporary administrative and security arrangements for Abyei and the withdrawal of Sudanese armed forces," Rice told the 15-nation council. "We are encouraged by this news."
"Now comes the crucial task of full and timely implementation," she told the meeting, in which UN special envoy to Sudan Haile Menkerios and former South African President Thabo Mbeki participated via video link from Addis Ababa.
Mbeki announced the agreement earlier from the Ethiopian capital.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also welcomed the agreement. UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said in a statement that Ban urged north and south Sudan to "abide in full by its provisions to demilitarize the area and establish an administration and police service."
The recent fighting between the north and south has threatened to unravel a fragile 2005 peace deal that ended over two decades of north-south civil war.
Rice emphasized "the urgency of Ethiopian troops deploying immediately to Abyei as the agreed interim security force under UN auspices and on the time line agreed to by the parties."
She said Washington would soon circulate to other council members a draft resolution that would authorize the deployment of Ethiopian troops to Abyei as an interim security force.
Rice added the recent fighting in Abyei was "by no means the only crisis facing the people of Sudan" less than three weeks before south Sudan secedes from the north on 9 July in line with a January referendum in which southerners chose independence.
She said Washington had received "horrifying" reports about recent violence and human rights abuses in Sudan's Southern Kordofan state, which she said had "ethnic dimensions."
Rice accused the northern Sudanese army of shelling and bombing areas around the regional capital Kadugli.
"Ongoing and intense aerial bombardments threaten the lives of civilians and UN personnel," she said. "Sudanese armed forces have threatened to shoot down UMMIS (UN peacekeepers) air patrols. They have taken control of the airport in Kadugli and refuse landing rights to UNMIS flights."
This has left UN personnel "dangerously low" on food and supplies in Southern Kordofan, she added.
Rice also referred to unconfirmed reports that the northern army was "arming elements of the local population and placing mines in areas of Kadugli."
Other reports claimed that forces loyal to Khartoum were seeking out southern forces and their sympathizers and summarily executing them, she said.
British Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant also welcomed the Abyei deal, but added that both southern and northern forces have been accused of summary executions in Southern Kordofan.
Khartoum's UN envoy Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman told reporters that the north entered Southern Kordofan because of "horrendous violations" of the southern army. Southern Sudan's representative in the United States, Ezekiel Gatkuoth, told reporters that it was the north that started the fighting.

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