South Sudan Calls on the North to Withdraw from Disputed Abyei Region

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South Sudan's President Salva Kiir called on north Sudan to withdraw its forces from the disputed Abyei region. The oil-rich region was forcefully taken over by North Sudanese forces last week.

South Sudan's President Salva Kiir called on north Sudan on Thursday to withdraw its forces from the disputed Abyei region. But he says there would be no war over the raid and it would not derail independence.

[Salva Kiir, President, South Sudan]:
"I am calling upon my president, President Omar Al Bashir to pull out his force from Abyei, that is unconditional and so that we allow the deployment of international forces that will keep peace in the area and so that we allow the people who have been displaced from their homes to go back to their places and to allow the humanitarian organizations to go in to deliver humanitarian assistance to these people."

North Sudanese armed forces seized control of the oil-producing Abyei region on Saturday, forcing tens of thousands to flee.

The move sparked an international outcry seven weeks before south Sudan secedes to form a new nation.

Abyei was a key battleground in Sudan's last north/south civil war and both sides see it as a symbolic emblem.

The region is used all year round by the Dinka Ngok people, who have strong ethnic links to the south, and for part of the year by northern Misseriya nomads.

Analysts fear a north Sudanese land grab could spark a return to full-blown conflict.

This would have a devastating impact on the region by sending refugees back across borders and creating a failed state in the south at birth.

But President Kiir says he has no intention of going to war.

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