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A sigh of relief in Sudan

Old Woman in Abyei
(Photo: United Nations, CC)

It is a verdict to maintain peace: The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague has ruled on the hard-fought region of Abyei in Sudan today (background on kopfzeiler). It has given the northern government in Khartoum control over significant oil fields (like Heglig 2) of the region, but gave the south (whose people will vote about independence in 2011) reassurance its Dinka people belong to the region and its nomadic movements would be protected.

This ruling seems to favour the north, but both parties accepted the verdict, nurturing hopes the decision will lead to the implementation of the peace plan of 2005. Before that, a 22-year-long conflict in the region had killed around two million people and left one million displaced. How all this will play out will be seen in 2011 when the people of Abyei hold a referendum about whether they want to belong to north or south. As the region has more oil fields to offer, the Sudan’s president Omar al-Bashir might be tempted to ignore the result if Abyei tries to break away as well.

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