Sudan`s army says disputed Abyei a `northern town`

Sudan`s flashpoint Abyei area is a `northern town,` the north`s occupying army has said.

Last Updated: May 24, 2011, 15:04 PM IST

Juba: Sudan`s flashpoint Abyei area is a "northern town," the north`s occupying army has
said, dismissing southern and international calls Tuesday to pull troops out after days of fighting there.

"Abyei will remain a northern town until the
population decides on their situation by themselves," said
Khartoum`s defence minister Abdulrahim Mohammed Hussein,
quoted by the official Suna news agency yesterday.

The fertile border region, claimed by both north and
south, was due to vote on its future in January alongside a
referendum on independence for the south, which delivered a
landslide for secession.

But Abyei`s vote did not happen amid arguments as to
who was eligible to vote, and northern troops and tanks took
the contested area on Saturday.

"The (northern) army will stay in Abyei in order to
maintain security and stability until a political decision is
taken," Hussein added.
A UN Security Council delegation is due to hold talks
on today with southern president Salva Kiir in the southern
capital of Juba.

The southern government have demanded northern Sudan
Armed Forces (SAF) withdraw immediately.

"The SAF must end their illegal occupation and leave
Abyei," the south`s information minister Barnaba Marial
Benjamin said today.

Thousands of Abyei`s residents, mainly southern
supporting Dinka Ngok people, are reported to have fled across
the border into the south, with houses set on fire and
property looted in the northern-controlled areas.