Khartoum, Sudan (PANA) - The UK Minister for Africa, Henry Bellingham, has welcomed the withdrawal of South Sudan forces from Abyei, saying it is vital that it is reciprocated by withdrawal of all Sudanese Armed Forces personnel from the area.
"I welcome the news that South Sudan has withdrawn all its remaining security forces from Abyei, in line with the agreement made in June 2011 on the administration and security of Abyei,” the Minister said in a statement obtained by PANA in Khartoum on Saturday.
The statement of Mr Bellingham follows the confirmation by the Force Commander of the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA), Lieutenant General Tadesse Tesfay, in a letter addressed to the AU on 10 May 2012 that South Sudan has withdrawn all personnel of the South Sudan Police Service from the disputed area of Abyei.
“It is vital that this now be reciprocated by withdrawal of all Sudanese Armed Forces personnel from Abyei. I urge the Government of Sudan to carry out its obligation to do so immediately,” the minister said.
“This will open the way for the return home of more than 100,000 residents of Abyei who have been living as refugees for the last year. I commend the excellent work that the UN peacekeeping force has been doing to ensure security for all Abyei’s communities, and urge all concerned to facilitate the return of displaced persons.”
Mr Bellingham noted that this was only “one step in the roadmap towards a comprehensive settlement of all outstanding disputes between Sudan and South Sudan,” as set out by the African Union and endorsed by the UN Security Council.
“I urge both governments to work swiftly with the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel to implement all remaining steps in the roadmap,” he said
-0- PANA MO/MA 12May2012