UN Security Council

UNITED NATIONS (AFP) - The UN Security Council Tuesday welcomed the "Road Map" agreement on the Abyei conflict signed by leaders of north and south Sudan, and called for a UN peacekeeping force to keep a lid on the tension.

"The Security Council welcomes the June 8 Road Map for the return of internally displaced persons and implementation of Abyei Protocol," Washington's UN Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, this month's council president, said in a statement.  

The council, he added, "emphasizes that peaceful resolution of the situation in Abyei is vital to the effective implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) and peace in the region."

The statement also "calls on UNMIS (UN Mission in Sudan) ... to robustly deploy peacekeeping personnel in and around Abyei to help reduce tensions and prevent escalation of conflict, in support of implementation of the CPA."

Fighting last month in the oil-rich Abyei region killed dozens and displaced more than 50,000, threatening a return to Sudan's two-decade civil war -- the longest in Africa -- which only ended with the signing of the CPA in 2005.

Under the 2005 deal, the south was offered a six-year transition period of regional autonomy and participation in a unity government until a 2011 referendum on self-determination.

The Security Council stressed that the deployment of a new, battalion-strong, mixed unit of troops from Khartoum and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) was a key feature of the Road Map signed by Sudanese President, Omar al-Beshir, and former rebel leader and First Vice President of the south Sudan government, Salva Kiir.

Half-way through the transition period established by the CPA, Abyei is still not governed by a functioning joint administration as stipulated in a special protocol.

The impasse has been one issue delaying implementation of the entire peace deal.

North and south had rejected the findings of an Abyei border commission set up under the CPA, and on Sunday decided to turn the Abyie dispute over to the international Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague.

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