President Salva Kiir Mayardit on Wednesday held talks with prominent intellectuals from Abyei Administrative Area which is disputed with neighboring Sudan.
Dr. Barnaba Marial Benjamin, Minister of Presidential Affairs said President Kiir expressed his commitment to a peaceful resolution of the status of the Abyei Administrative Area.
“They were able to have a long conversation with the President on the issues related to the status of Abyei,” Benjamin was quoted by SSBC as saying on Wednesday.
He said the meeting resolved to stick to the final status of Abyei as reflected in the African Union Abyei Protocol and other areas that would be added in finding a solution to determine the status of the oil-rich disputed region.
President Kiir invited Abyei intellectuals to hear their views on the final status of Abyei based on the 2005 Protocol signed by authorities in Juba and Khartoum.
Benjamin stressed the need to stick to the 2013 referendum whose results showed that Abyei belongs to South Sudan.
However, the AU refused to acknowledge the results of the referendum since it was not approved by the continental body.
Dr. Francis Mading Deng, a former diplomat and son of the late Dinka Ngok paramount chief Deng Majok, said determination of the status of Abyei is a key priority in restoring lasting peace, security, and stability in the country.
“In the meantime, the people of Abyei are in desperate need of security and stability, services and development, running their own affairs and having good relations with their neighbors,” said Deng.
Abyei coveres 4,000 square miles of desert, farmland and oil fields located along the ill-defined border between Sudan and South Sudan.
Abyei has been a contested area since South Sudan gained independence in 2011 from Sudan.
Under the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) which ended the 22-year civil war, Abyei was granted special status, and a joint administration was set up in 2008 to run the area until the referendum decided its fate.
But both Sudan and South Sudan failed to determine who is eligible to take part in the vote.