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Thu, 14 Jul 2011 11:15 - Updated Thu, 14 Jul 2011 11:15

Ethiopia Begins Deploying Troops to Disputed Abyei Region

Addis Ababa

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Addis Ababa - The Ethiopian government has begun deploying its troops to monitor the troubled North - South Sudan frontier of Abyei region, a military official said on Wednesday.

The decision to deploy peace keepers to the volatile region was reached after leaders from North and South Sudan - under the broker of the African Union - signed an agreement last month in Addis Ababa to fully demilitarise the central region and to allow an Ethiopian peacekeeping force to move in to monitor Abyei.

Following the agreement, the UN Security Council (UNSC) days later approved the deployment of a 4,200 strong Ethiopian peace keeping force to monitor the withdrawal of troops from Abyei.

Speaking on state-run Ethiopian Television, Logistics Main Department Head with the Ministry of National Defense, and Major General Gezahagn Abera on Wednesday said that necessary logistics had been transported to Abyei on 8 July.

Abera said he is confident that the peacekeeping force will fulfil its responsibilities to the satisfaction of all concerned parties, citing previous missions in the Horn of Africa.

Ethiopia has in the past deployed troops for similar missions in South Korea, Rwanda, Burundi, Liberia, and Democratic Republic Congo. It currently has also over 2,400 troops deployed in Darfur.

According to the UN resolution the Ethiopian force has the mission of demilitarising activities in and around Abyei and ensuring peace in the region for at least the next six months. It will be engaged mainly in protecting civilians, maintaining a buffer zone and also to create peaceful environment that will allow conducting referendum on the contested region of Abyei.