Dr. Chol Deng Alak, the Abyei chief administrator, slammed the South Sudanese government on Tuesday for failing to recognize the 2013 referendum.
Sudan and South Sudan are disputing the oil-rich Abyei, an area inhabited by Arab Misseriya and Ngok Dinka communities.
In October 2013, the Ngok Dinka community conducted a unilateral popular referendum, in which the vast majority of people voted to join South Sudan. However, neither Sudan nor South Sudan recognized the plebiscite so far.
Speaking at the 7th Governors Forum in Juba on Tuesday, Chief Administrator Chol Deng said although the people of Abyei voted to join South Sudan, the government has remained silent.
“In October 2013, Ngok Dinka people voted 99.8% in a free and fair referendum to join South Sudan. The United Nations did not recognize the results of the community referendum,” he said.
The chief administrator said it was surprising that South Sudan refused to recognize the results.
For his part, Information Minister Michael Makuei Michael Makuei Lueth defended the government, saying recognizing the Abyei referendum will clearly violate the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) on the Abyei Protocol.
“When they conducted the referendum, I was interviewed by Radio Omdurman, and the question was, what is the position of South Sudan in this referendum which is being done in Abyei? My response was that we did not recognize it,” Makuei said.
Makuei, who is also the government spokesman, said: “My second question to Chol is where did you get all these resources you used for conducting the referendum. These resources were ours, and this is what we did not want to reveal. We provided the resources, and you conducted the polls. Is it necessary that we should recognize it?” he asked.
“We are not supposed to come up officially and say we recognize otherwise we should be in violation of the agreement, which is the CPA, and this is not good,” he added.