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Abyei timeline

SPLA soldiers redeploy south from the Abyei area in line with the road map to resolve the Abyei crisis. Sudan. June 2008.
(Timothy Mckulka/UNMIS)

The following is a timeline for the Abyei boundary dispute.


An area inhabited by the Ngok Dinka people is transferred from the administration of Bahr al-Ghazal province to Kordofan province and becomes known as Abyei. What is in dispute is the size of the region.


Sudan gains independence from Anglo-Egyptian rule; first civil war breaks out, the Ngok Dinka align themselves with the southern rebels.


Civil war ends with Addis Ababa Agreement. Abyei is promised a referendum on whether to join the Southern Region.


Second civil war breaks out, in part because the referendum never takes place. Abyei is close to one of the frontlines between north and south.


Peace talks reach a milestone with the signing of the Machakos Protocol in Kenya. This promises the south significant autonomy, a referendum and self-determination but leaves the issue of Abyei unresolved.


An Abyei protocol drafted by US diplomats is signed between the Sudan government and rebel SPLM/A, clearing a significant stumbling block in the wider north-south peace process. It provides for another referendum. Abyei’s border remains undefined.


The Comprehensive Peace Agreement formally ends the second civil war; Abyei Boundaries Commission hears testimony from all stakeholders and issues ruling on the path of the boundary (July). Government in Khartoum rejects the ruling, claiming the ABC overstepped its mandate.


Deadlock over Abyei’s administration and other issues leads the SPLM to temporarily pull out of Government of National Unity (October). This follows a standoff between SPLA and Government forces in Abyei in September. Abyei lacks an effective administration.


Abyei town razed (May) in the worst of several clashes since December 2007. In June an agreement is reached to hand the border dossier over to a specially convened tribunal sitting at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, whose decision will be binding on both parties.


Permanent Court of Arbitration begins hearings in April; ruling scheduled for 22 July.


See also:

Assurances and tension ahead of key Abyei ruling

Abyei briefing

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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