As Sudan approaches a Jan. 9, 2011 referendum on secession of Southern Sudan or continued unity, there is another controversial issue that is receiving much less attention.
It is the future of the disputed Abyei region that is rich in oil and straddles the North-South border.
The area is inhabited permanently by the Ngok Dinka with loyalties to the South and seasonally by the Misseriya with ties to the North. There is to be a separate referendum on the future of Abyei, although no date has been set.
The Institute for Security Studies prepared a background paper on this critical issue dated July 26, 2010, and titled "Abyei Natural Resources Conflict" (PDF) by Muna A. Abdalla.
Image: Creative commons licensed photo of a woman receiving emergency rations from the UN World Food Programme (WFP) in Agok, Sudan, as storm clouds loom overhead. www.unmultimedia.org/photo/