Ethiopia stressed that for the withdrawal of its troops from the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA), the agreement on temporary security arrangements in the disputed region requires the agreement of all parties. After the bilateral relations between Sudan and Ethiopia deteriorated due to disagreements over the Al-Fashaga border and the operation and environmental impact of the GERD project, Sudan requested the United Nations to withdraw Ethiopian troops.
In this context, on 28 June, Graham Maitland, UN Director for Eastern African Division of the Department of Political and Peace Building Affairs and Operations, discussed with Demeke Mekonnen, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia.
The Ethiopian foreign ministry said in a statement that Ethiopian forces made sacrifices in Abyei to prevent war and that the withdrawal should be with the consent of the stakeholders and in an honorable manner. The SPLM-led government in South Sudan did not comment on Sudan’s request for the withdrawal of Ethiopian troops from Abyei.
After the signing of an agreement on temporary arrangements for the administration and security of the Abyei area on 20 June 2011, the Sudanese government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), the ruling party in southern Sudan prior to gaining independence, requested the UN Security Council to deploy Ethiopian forces in Abyei to assist in the implementation of the agreement.
In line with the peace agreement of 9 January 2005 between Sudan and the SPLM, the residents of Abyei would take part in a referendum to remain in Sudan or join independent South Sudan. The Comprehensive Peace Agreement further provides that Abyei remains under sovereignty until the organization of the self-determination vote.