When Sudan asked the United Nations to withdraw its Ethiopian peacekeeping contingent from the disputed region of Abyei, it was clear that its border dispute with Ethiopia was reaching a new high in recent weeks. And the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has voiced frustration with Sudan, accused the government in Khartoum of being reluctant to issue visas for Ethiopian troops bound for Abyei as part of its peacekeeping mission to the volatile region.
Springing to the defense of the Ethiopian troops, the UN scribe recently told the Security Council that peacekeepers and civil workers from that country to Abyei have been discharging their duties and responsibility effectively.
Two weeks ago, Sudan called on the United Nations to replace Ethiopian peacekeepers in Abyei with another force from different countries, four months after a border dispute broke out with Ethiopia,
The response to Sudan’s request to replace Ethiopian peacekeepers is pending and officials of Ethiopia, Sudan and South Sudan are discussing the matter.
Both Khartoum and Juba claim ownership of the oil-rich Abyei area.
A 2005 peace deal that led to South Sudan’s independence from its northern neighbour in 2011 required both sides to work out the final status of the region, but it is still unresolved.
According to the Secretary General, Ethiopia is willing to withdraw its peacekeeping force from Abyei upon the decision of both Sudan and South Sudan.