October 14, 2010 / 3:08 AM / 10 years ago

UN could police parts of north-south Sudan border

* Limited buffer zone on Sudan’s internal border may work

* North-south border to vast to police entirely

By Louis Charbonneau

UNITED NATIONS, Oct 13 (Reuters) - U.N. peacekeepers could create limited buffer zones in hotspots along the border of north and south Sudan before a referendum on independence is held in the south of the country, Security Council diplomats said on Wednesday.

Their remarks came in response to a request by South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir during a U.N. Security Council trip to Sudan last week for peacekeepers to be deployed along north-south border.

“Nobody thinks it’s realistic to put UNMIS (U.N peacekeepers), even if we had masses more troops, along the north-south border in a country that large,” one council diplomat, who did not want to be identified, told reporters.

“But I think one thing we can and should consider ... is looking at augmenting UNMIS in certain hotspots along the border where a buffer presence could be established.”

UNMIS is the 10,000-strong U.N. peacekeeping force that monitors compliance with a 2005 peace agreement that ended decades of north-south civil war in Sudan.

That agreement called for a vote on southern independence and a separate vote on whether Abyei, a disputed oil-rich zone, should be part of the north or south.

The two referendums are scheduled for Jan. 9, 2011, but preparations are severely behind schedule.

The predominantly Christian and animist southerners, embittered by the conflict and perceived northern exploitation, are widely expected to vote for secession.

Khartoum, the capital of the largely Muslim north, wants to keep Africa’s largest country united.

Troops from both sides have clashed since the 2005 accord, most recently in the contested Abyei oil region. Each side has accused the other of building up troops near their shared border as the southern referendum approaches. (Editing by Chris Wilson)

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