Abyei ruling: Apocalypse from The Hague?

(Western Kordofan, Sudan)--In the weeks leading up to the historic PCA ruling, many were off point and found it hard to predict the Abyei arbitration ruling as The Hague was preparing to render its verdict on July 22nd. Now that it is already announced, it is important to share the basics about Abyei and the Dinka Ngok who proudly call it home. The much anticipated award-rendering of Wednesday 22nd July is a landmark occasion for the region and its people and it is going to dominate our thinking in the weeks and months to come. July 22 2009 is the day south Sudanese and entire world poured encomiums on Abyei. A town described as ‘dusty’, but for 300,000 Dinka Ngok, Abyei is where each soul yearns to be buried in: near the cold mud at the banks of Nyimora, Kech, Todoj, Malual Aleu, Rumamer, Mading Acweny etc.

 But understand this folks! Abyei ruling this time does not mean that the Abyei area that was transferred to Kordofan in 1905 will be ruled by the court to belong to the south or the north. That question shall be answered by Dinka Ngok concurrently with the south Sudanese in January 2011. What we should know from the current court ruling is that, the court has weighed if Abyei Boundaries Commission experts rightly or wrongfully gave out Abyei Area to Dinka Ngok that is composed of the nine chiefdoms in the area, they are ever since headed by Abior clan. Misseriya and NCP insistence was, “The area from River Kiir, Abyei town, Todoch, Nyama, Tebeldia down to Sitep and Meiram does not belong to Ngok absolutely.” Above all, “the experts exceeded their mandate!” NCP and Misseriya claimed.

 Their argument remained “Ngok were south of Kiir but were only invited to be north of the river in 1905.” A strong reason for them to reject ABC Report.  “Dinka Ngok are guests that should not be handed the areas stated.” Many tricks and delaying games are employed by NCP to implement CPA and her sibling protocols. “These Ngok villages float on oil” to use the words of our legendary leader Dr. John Garang to Ngok people on 26th June 2004 in Agok. Oil has become a curse and threat for the existence of Ngok as a nation. Cdr. James Ajing Path (RIP) was right. The importance of surveyors and engineers and demarcation of Abyei Area as defined by CPA will always be talked about.

 Fighting over Abyei has not yet started. Belonging to the south or north shall be determined by upcoming referendum.  With or without Abyei Arbitration, Abyei will always be for Ngok Jieng, the legitimacy of belonging rests with them come 2011. But one maybe tempted to argue why Abyei should be spared of referendum? The Misseriya, through SAF’s 31st Brigade forcefully voted Abyei and Ngok out of Kordofan from 13th -21st May, 2008. Ngok paid by the precious blood of their martyrs and life-time earned property. Both NCP and SPLM are witnesses! Dinka Ngok will not dispute the ownership of Heglig, Kharsana, Keilak and Meiram. Let the Nuer, Nuba people and Malual Giernyang initiate arbitration in The Hague or elsewhere come 2011. Dinka Ngok at the moment are in dire need of settlement and development and progress. 

 As south Sudanese in general were urged by GoSS to turn to supernatural through prayers, fasting and refrain from 18th-21st July, here came at eleventh hour, one Ashraf Jehangir Qazi, UN Secretary General’s representative to Sudan; shamelessly agitating NCP and Misseriya that "Over the past weeks, we have received several reports and confirmations of the presence of SPLA soldiers and elements of the Southern Sudan Police Service in the area, especially in and around Agok. It is a clear violation of the Abyei Roadmap Agreement and could lead to escalation and violence if it remained unchecked." (ST). And my question to you Gazi: was it lust for money or your Islamic fundamentalism? If it was for money, know that 70% of Sudan’s oil is pumped from Kech (Difra) in Abyei.

 If it is because of Islam, you might have discovered that Abyei is the last frontier of the African land. Mr. Ashraf Gazi, you are a pain to us! Remember when you ordered all UN agencies to evacuate Abyei town on 14th May 2008? When all UN staff left, Misseriya descended in drowns in Abyei. Zambian contingent and few Asians watched at broad day light on 20th May 2008 SAF’s tanks and heavy artilleries being ferried at the banks of River Kiir. Antonov hovered over Abyei UNMIS Sector VI. Ashraf did you stop the carnage that followed? Lives lost, property carried and auctioned in Mugled! Weakened UNMIS personnel watched Abyei in deep inferno; days later they covered their noses not to smell rotting corpses from Mulmul. Gazi, do not make us vent fire on you! Tell us if your paymasters are in Khartoum than New York! We are trying to heal our war wounds and understand ourselves as people with destiny.

Why are you trying to decay current relations between Misseriya and Ngok, south and north, NCP and SPLM after Kiir’s successful first visit in the region? Go back and save your Taliban-infested country of Pakistan, or else incite your grandfather’s people in Afghanistan to plan more roadside bombs and produce tons of cannabis till the end of time. Ashraf Gazi, do not take side in our war with our adversaries at the eve of our victorious entrance to the Promised Land.

Let’s put things straight, just for those who did not know Abyei’s geography and history. When Abyei Roadmap was signed on 8th June 2008, it was a great blow to SPLA gallant forces. The SPLA wept that day! Gazi and his cronies should have known that, after 8th June 2008 SPLA forces were evicted from Manyang to Ajak Kwac in Twich County, Warrap State. Today the frontline leaves Dinka Ngok susceptible to any aggression because of renegotiation of Abyei Protocol done in Khartoum after the destruction of the town in May 2008.

Kiir’s words to the Misseriya leaders in Mugled on 9th July were the best peace missile we needed. Major Generals Ismail Khamis Jalab and Daniel Kodi Angelo paved ways for you since 2005 with the Misseiya. Debib an hour’s drive east of Mugled town hosted thousands of Misseriya SPLA recruits till Issa Besheri and his SAF humiliated SPLA  platoon in September 2007 under  Major General Ayuen Alier Jongroor and  Brig. General Malual Majak while on their way into Mugled from Ed Daein in Darfur.   Kiir was right both in his speech and action of good heart with Misseriya. Politicians build bridges where there are no rivers. Kiir promised and encouraged Misseriya to grace as far as Wunrok valley far south or go further south west till Nyamlel. Kiir knows how much his people of Awan suffered trying to settle in Dar Misseriya. Awan-Agwok of Gogrial are only welcomed in En Nahud, Qubeish and Alait; the lands of Hamar and Berti of Darfur. 

Kiir might have definitely known the generosity and kindness of these tribes from the testimonies of his own people who lived there during the war. A researcher shall one day document the hate tales and anecdotes between Jieng and Jur-mathiang (Maram).  Well, Kiir Mayar, what you said to the Misseriya will change their attitude towards Jieng, the immediate neighbors then the whole south Sudanese. After all, Misseriya do not know the land beyond Kiir-Kou, Majok or Biemnhom. During the 2nd CPA memorial, President Omar Al Beshir promised to build Juba as a modern city with water, electricity, tarred roads etc.

Early than that, on 10th January 2005, President Al Beshir flew from Nairobi to bid farewell to Juba. He publicly promised, “We shall make Juba the bride of Africa!” Today the people of Juba have learned to listen to their president attentively then roar in unison, “WELE, WELE”.  Political promises are necessary. Kiir Mayar, go allover the north and make promises to your citizens. No one will force you to reveal what lies deep at the bottom of your heart. You are beginning to be a good student in the art of our northern brothers. They have mastered it since 1821 when Mohamed Ali Pasha arrived here. The British validated for them the treachery and tricks of irony of longevity of rule.

Back to Abyei. Time had become the enemy of Misseriya and NCP in the days leading to the ruling as all ears and antennas were turned to the Peace Palace in The Hague. 22nd July 2009 was that one day that bore traces of celebrations as precursor to independence of south Sudan. Well why was a domestic case in the flesh of Abyei people taken first to Permanent Court of Arbitration?   We are all saturated with the answer that NCP’s intransigence and stubbornness not to implement Abyei’s Protocol is the sole factor that led both SPLM and NCP to seek justice for Dinka Ngok who have occupied Abyei Area since 1700 AD. 

The award of PCA on Abyei case is already a parting step towards nationhood for the people of south Sudan. It was insincerity and aggression that led the NCP not to fully implement Abyei Protocol since 9th July 2009. For the first time GoSS took the suffering of Abyei people as a national concern. A step to educate those who still look at Dinka Ngok as those who sold their land to the ‘Arabs’ in the north and got back Arab culture and religion into their homeland they are being helped to reclaim.

While Ngok will be joining their kinsmen in the south and concentrating on development of their shattered villages in basic services; Misseriya on the other hand shall be devising new methods for survival in the desert. If Ngok, Nuer, Nuba and Rizeigat were to close their doors for interaction, they would migrate en mass to major towns in northern Sudan. Misseriya have already lost considerable number of cattle from November 2008 to May 2009. Lack of grazing pastures and water will definitely change Miseeriya’s survival techniques.

Two men have stood out of their skins, denying the pleasures of their mid 40s, prestige of their revolutionary achievements, and vigorously fought to reclaim what their grandfathers lost, return of Abyei Area to Bahr el Ghazal. Dr. Luka Biong and Deng Alor, this is your second liberation war you have fought in your lifetime! What could you do if your father’s house was in shambles? You fought a great fight. Asking for a sabbatical is appropriate at this time. Abyei’s arbitration is a strike at the back. Just think of the resources used to transport witnesses from both sides to The Hague. That money could have built better facilities for the locals, hospital, schools, water points or vet clinics. Misseriya wanted it that way, so it is. Abyei will always be the land of the Ngok, a town north of River Kiir in Bahr el Ghazal.  

Abyei’s immediate VIP neighbors and benefactors like Taban Deng Gai (Western Upper Nile), Tor Deng Mawien (Warrap) and Paul Malong Awan Anei (Northern Bahr el Ghazal) rest assured, Abyei shall no longer be a nuisance at your backyard. Thanks to another political born-again in the region, Maulana Ahmed Mohamed Haruon, South Kordofan governor. One more day, one more time, comes 2011. For those who for centuries antagonized Ngok people, the day of your judgment has come; you saw stars at 12pm as the torches held by Ngok martyrs flashed into your eyes. Finally can you answer this question?

 When Abyei Boundaries Commission experts presented their findings to Sudan’s collegial presidency in 2005, to please Misseriya, the NCP forced the Ngok people to soak the ABC report document in water, and Dinka Ngok drank the bitter contents with their liberation feet firmly rooted in Sudanese soil. Now, can the NCP and Misseriya soak Abyei Arbitration ruling document from The Hague and drink the contents?  Please understand the apocalypse in good faith like the Nigerians, Cameroonians, Ethiopians, Yemenis and Eritreans understood Bakassi, Badme and Hanish disputes.

John Oryem is The New Sudan Vision Bureau Chief in Sudan.He has written many articles on the plight of people of Abyei. For comments, he can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.