September 11, 2022 (JUBA) – Youth leaders from Abyei have launched a consultative process to seek views on proposals for an independent sultanate in the contested region.
A sultanate is a state or country governed by a sultan.
The proposal, which has drawn mixed reactions, is a shift from the previous aspiration to return to the south, annexed to Sudan’s Kordofan region in 1905, when the colonial administration was leaving Sudan leading to the declaration of independence in 1956.
It, however, gained momentum after Francis Mading Deng, a prominent figure in the area, proposed a peaceful coexistence with Sudan and South Sudan in May.
Deng said he was persuaded to make such a proposal owing to recent experiences in which the area came under sustained attacks and clashes from neighbouring communities in the north as well as the south, causing displacements and destruction of properties.
The Abyei youth union in Juba said it has now started conducting numerous meetings.
Kuol Deng, a member of Abyei youth leadership, said the group met at the community house in Juba on Saturday to deliberate on Mading’s proposal for the establishment of the Central Republic of the Sudan (CRS) under the protectorate of the United Nations.
He did not elaborate on what was discussed during Saturday’s meeting.
Deng, however, said the community leadership is sharply divided over the proposal for the Central Republic of Sudan. While some are advocating for an independent sultanate, others want a return to South Sudan, yet some say the disputed region be under Sudan.
“These are just consultations. It is not yet a position”, he told Sudan Tribune on Sunday.
Last week, Mading said the future of Abyei depends on its independence status while maintaining a viable relationship with neighbouring countries, Sudan and South Sudan.
Meanwhile South Sudan’s appointed Chief Administrator Kuol Diem Kuol told a brigade size of recruits that they are going to protect the Abyei land and that they will serve as the national army of what would be the Central Republic of the Sudan (CRS).
The statement drew the attention of officials in both Sudan and neighbouring South Sudan, prompting Kuol to back off from his initial position on proposals for an independent sultanate after warning of consequences associated with such a decision.
Youth and community leaders took the matter seriously. Several sources within the community leadership told Sudan Tribune the leadership has been sharply divided over lack of transparency in sharing information on the proposal.
Abyei, an area of 10,546 km² on the border between South Sudan and the Sudan that has been accorded “special administrative status” by the 2004 Protocol on the Resolution of the Abyei Conflict in the peace deal that ended Sudan’s second civil war.