South Sudan government says people of Abyei are foreigners

Published: 21/Mar/2016
Source: Sudan Tribune

South Sudanese government has said people of Abyei who reside and work in the world’s youngest nation are not citizens of South Sudan but foreigners whose citizenship is in the neighbouring Sudan.

This was revealed in an official communication where South Sudan’s government explained incidents of human rights violations which have been reported by the Office of the High Commission for Human Rights as violations carried by the government and armed opposition groups in the country.

In the report by the human rights body which touched on many violations committed by the government, it also mentioned the dismissal from teaching in the University of Juba, Luka Biong Deng, due to a forum he hosted in October last year to discuss newly created 28 states.

The decision to create 28 states faced a lot of criticisms by participants in the forum which was convened in the University premises.

However, in the statement of explanation to the world’s human rights body, South Sudan’s ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said Luka Biong Deng is not a citizen of South Sudan.

“In case of Dr. Luka Biong Deng, the University of Juba is an independent academic institution which employs national and non-nationals, like Dr. Luka Biong Deng who is a citizen of the Republic of Sudan,” partly reads the statement signed by Foreign Minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin.

The 9 March 2016 official correspondence further denied that Deng was dismissed from the University per directives from President Kiir, saying the University terminated his contract.

“The termination of service is based on terms of contract. Therefore, the President cannot order the university to dismiss any of its staff including Dr. Luka Biong Deng,” said the statement seen by Sudan Tribune.

The new revelation also confirms silent observations that people of Abyei, although they hail from the Dinka ethnic group like the president, have been seen to be foreigners in South Sudan.

The 2005 peace agreement which ended 21 years of war between the Sudanese government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) provided for a referendum to be conducted by the people of Abyei to choose between remaining in the Sudan and opting to join South Sudan.

However, the referendum did not take place while South Sudan got its independence in July 2011.

A unilaterally conducted referendum by residents of Abyei in 2013 was not recognized by Sudan and others including the government of South Sudan. Abyei is nevertheless included in the South Sudan’s transitional constitution, 2011, as its territory.

It also remains unclear why South Sudan appoints leaders from Abyei to senior leadership positions in the government, such as Deng Alor Kuol, another citizen of Abyei who is currently the foreign minister designate.

The recently relieved inspector general of police, Pieng Deng Kuol, also comes from Abyei, among others.

Read on Sudan Tribune website.

Themes: State Succession, New States
Regions: South Sudan, Sudan
Year: 2016