JUBA, South Sudan – Residents in the disputed region of Abyei are celebrating ahead of the upcoming referendum on whether they want to join Sudan or South Sudan, an exercise some fear could trigger violence.
Luka Biong, the spokesman for a civic group that is organizing the vote, said Saturday that the area's Ngok Dinka people have been "singing and dancing" as they wait to cast ballots Sunday. He said the Sudan-allied Misseriya nomads, who come to Abyei to find pasture for their cattle, will not be allowed to participate.
Both Sudan and South Sudan claim ownership of oil-rich Abyei, whose status was unresolved after South Sudan became independent from its northern neighbor in 2011. Abyei's majority Ngok Dinka people are believed to be in favor of joining South Sudan.