[Editor’s note: Update your 1st order admin maps! The long simmering feud between northern and southern Sudan was partially arbitrated by The Hague last month. The south will decide in a 2011 referendum the question of seceding from Sudan. Many observers see secession getting the thumbs up. The freshly shaped Abyei state will vote on joining or staying individually while all others in the south proper will vote en mass.]
Republished from The Economist.
Jul 30th 2009 | JUBA AND KHARTOUM
A ruling from The Hague pleases the north and vexes the south
OFFICIALS in Sudan’s government in Khartoum could hardly believe their luck when, on July 22nd, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague ruled on the fate of the disputed Abyei state, which sits astride the oil-soaked border between Arab northern Sudan and the ethnically African (and largely Christian) south Sudan. Surprisingly, the court reversed an earlier commission’s ruling and redrew Abyei’s borders, snipping out the lucrative Heglig and Bamboo oilfields (see map) and giving them to the north.
The ownership of these oilfields has soured relations between the north and south Sudanese ever since a peace accord was signed between them in 2005, ending a civil war that had raged on and off for nearly half a century at a cost of some 2m lives. So tense had the situation in Abyei become that last year much of its capital was burned to the ground in fighting between militias from the two sides. Now, however, the north seems to have got what it wanted by law rather than by force.