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Sudanese police still inside Abyei

01 June 2012, 11:55

 Khartoum - Sudan's armed forces said late on Thursday that a police contingent is still inside the contested Abyei area, after the foreign ministry denied their presence and the UN called for their withdrawal.

A police force of 169 people "remained inside Abyei... armed with ordinary weapons", the official SUNA news agency quoted army spokesperson Sawarmi Khaled Saad as saying.

The UN Security Council on Thursday demanded that Sudan withdraw its armed police from Abyei amid warnings there is still "hair-trigger" tension between the Khartoum government and South Sudan.

The Security Council's demand came after UN chief Ban Ki-moon and South Sudan urged Khartoum to complete its pullout.

Ban welcomed the "full withdrawal" on Tuesday of the Sudan Armed Forces from the Abyei area, but he called on the Sudanese government to withdraw "all remaining armed police forces", UN spokesperson Martin Nesirky said.

Sudan was "deceiving the world, saying that they have withdrawn their forces", South Sudan's chief negotiator Pagan Amum said on Thursday in Addis Ababa where the two countries are holding their first talks since coming to the brink of all-out war in April.

After fighting along the disputed border in March and April, the Security Council called on the two sides to cease hostilities and resume talks on a number of issues, including the status of Abyei, the most sensitive matter left unresolved before South Sudan's independence last July.

The council's 02 May resolution said both sides had to pull their forces out of Abyei by 16 May. South Sudan complied, withdrawing police who were based there, while Sudan pulled its army out after the deadline.

"We didn't have any police at all inside Abyei area, now or in the past," foreign ministry spokesperson Al-Obeid Meruh told AFP earlier on Thursday. "We only have an army, which we have withdrawn. And we are committed to what we have announced."


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