Editor's Note: This op-ed originally appeared on Global Post.
ABYEI,Sudan - In December I traveled to Abyei,a disputed resource-rich region straddling the ill-defined border between Sudan and South Sudan. For more than four decades,Abyei has been a flashpoint of conflict between the two countries and as long as its final status remains unresolved,violent outbursts will devastate local communities and the threat of war will loom large over the Sudans.
As regional and international leaders descend on Addis Ababa,Ethiopia,next week for the 20th annual African Union (AU) Summit,they have a critical opportunity to prevent further violence on the ground and lead the Sudans toward peace by ensuring that the final status of Abyei is resolved once and for all.
Since the 1970s,there have been multiple internationally supported and observed agreements to determine the final status of Abyei. Failure to enforce the agreements has been followed by bloody civil wars that have taken the lives and forced the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people. Negotiations over a referendum to determine whether the area is part of Sudan or South Sudan is hence one of the most controversial outstanding issues remaining after South Sudan's secession from Sudan.[view whole blog post ]