The U.N. Security Council (UNSC) has extended by six months the mandate of its peacekeeping force for Abyei, an area contested by South Sudan and Sudan, and demanded that the two countries finalize the establishment of an administration for the area in line with an agreement signed last year.
The Council established the U.N. Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) in June last year following outbreak of violence after Sudanese troops took control of Abyei, displacing tens of thousands of people in the weeks before South Sudan became an independent State after seceding from Sudan.
In a resolution passed on Thursday, the UNSC also welcomed the withdrawal of South Sudanese military and police personnel from Abyei - as called for by the U.N. body - and demanded that the Government of Sudan also redeploy all remaining military and police personnel from Abyei immediately and without preconditions.
UNSC members reiterated that "the Abyei area shall be demilitarized from any forces other than UNISFA and the Abyei Police Service."
They urged Sudan and South Sudan to make regular use of the Abyei Joint Oversight Committee to ensure steady progress on the implementation of the 2011 June 20 agreement. The pact, signed in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, provides for temporary administrative arrangements for Abyei and the withdrawal of troops by both sides.
The UNSC reiterated that "Sudan and South Sudan shall unconditionally withdraw all of their armed forces to their side of the border in accordance with previously adopted Agreements, and activate the necessary border security mechanisms, namely the Joint Border Verification and Monitoring Mechanism and the Safe Demilitarized Border Zone."
It expressed its intention to review UNISFA's mandate after four months for possible reconfiguration, in light of compliance by Sudan and South Sudan with the decisions set forth in an earlier resolution and their commitments to last June's agreement.
The Council urged all Member-States, particularly Sudan and South Sudan, to ensure the free, unhindered and expeditious movement to and from Abyei, and throughout the Safe Demilitarized Border Zone of all personnel, as well as equipment, provisions, supplies and other goods, including vehicles, aircraft, and spare parts, intended for the exclusive and official use of UNISFA.
by RTT Staff Writer
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