Saturday, May 7, 2011

U.N. warns about standoff in oil-rich Sudan region

Violence in the disputed oil-rich region of Abyei will jeopardize relations between north and South Sudan governments as the two sides gear up for a permanent separation in July, the United Nations said.

Northern Sudan's army clashed with southern forces in the region this week, killing at least 14, the United Nations said Friday.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he "is deeply concerned by the continued tension" in the area.

"The military standoff is unacceptable," Ban said in a statement.

South Sudan in January voted to split from the north, and is expected to officially become an independent nation in July.

However, the fate of the oil-rich Abyei region remains a flashpoint.

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir said last month that his government would not recognize the new state of South Sudan if it claims Abyei.

"Abyei is a part of the north and will remain a part of the north," the president said in a speech broadcast on state television.

Al-Bashir's declaration reneged on an earlier promise to honor the results. (read more)