Juba - The co-chair of the Abyei Joint Oversight Committee, Luka Biong, has denied a UN report that South Sudan has unilaterally formed a new Abyei area administration.
Addressing a press conference in Juba on Tuesday, Biong, who represents President Salva Kiir in the oversight committee, said the civil servants sent back to Abyei were only those displaced during the occupation by the Sudanese army in May last year.
The co-chair said they were asked to return to their workplaces within Abyei to assist the people of the area as they return to their homes.
"We are having a big, huge civil servant [group] that are actually available and appointed by the Sudan government before the invasion in May 2011,” he told the media.
“Those civil servants consist of only teachers, nurses, workers and they are actually being paid by the Sudan government. What we decided to do was order these civil servants to return to Abyei town and beyond in order to assist in the return of the people.”
He stressed that the decision of asking the civil servants to go back was a simple administrative matter and “cannot be understood as establishing a new Abyei area administration”.
The UN peacekeeping force in Abyei had reported that it received information that South Sudan had ordered the former Abyei area administration to relocate its secretariat from Agok in Warrap State to Abyei town, in violation of an agreement reached with Sudan in June.
Biong on the other hand accused Sudan of sending a transitional Abyei executive committee to the area.
He said the UN force had been asked to provide temporary accommodation and security for the committee members, scheduled to arrive at the end of August.
“Most of the members are suspected to have participated in the devastation of the area. In fact, the UN is paradoxically being requested by Sudan to provide accommodation and security instead of apprehending the very people who looted, burnt down Abyei and committed gross human rights abuses in the area.”
Biong also accused the Khartoum government of delaying tactics in implementing the June 20, 2011 agreement.
He said Sudan has refused to pull out all its forces from the Abyei area and maintained its oil forces there.
He also noted that Sudan has refused to transfer 2 percent of the oil revenues in the area, being the rightful share of the Ngok Dinka under the Abyei Protocol.
In addition, he said, the Sudan delegation refused to sign a joint letter to both presidents to expedite the establishment of the Abyei administration.
Khartoum also refused to sign a document containing the terms for an inter-governmental task force to coordinate humanitarian assistance for the returnees and instead insisted to include a provision that Sudan has the sole sovereignty over Abyei, according to Biong.
“The international community should focus on how to make Sudan fully implement the June 20 agreement”, Biong stressed.