South Africa urges end to violence in Sudan's Abyei
South Africa on Wednesday demanded an end to violence in the flashpoint district of Abyei on the border between Sudan and the soon to be independent south.
"The increased tensions over Abyei... and the use of violence threaten to derail the post-referendum negotiations and introduce a dire period of uncertainty as South Sudan prepares for independence," the foreign ministry said in a statement.
"It is imperative that the two parties address the contentious post-referendum issues, including the border demarcation, the status of Abyei, the sharing of resources, amongst other matters, in a cordial manner that would ensure peaceful and amicable coexistence," it said.
"The South African government calls on the Sudanese government and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement to cease hostilities," it added.
The call came after the Khartoum government declared Abyei was a "northern town," dismissing international calls to pull its troops out of the border district also claimed by south Sudan, after days of fighting.
The north's seizure of Abyei, in the run-up to international recognition of southern independence in July, has been also condemned by the world powers as a threat to peace between north and south Sudan.
South Africa had in recent years lobbied for south Sudan's secession, with former president Thabo Mbeki playing a pivotal role in the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement that led to the January referendum paving the way towards independence.
© 2011 AFP