Sudan slams US envoy’s remarks on South Kordofan
July 27, 2011 (Sudan Tribune)
Sudan’s government has described as baseless allegations of abuses by Susan Rice, the US envoy at the UN Security Council, against the country’s army in South Kordofan State.
Since 5 June, North Sudan army known as the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and its allied paramilitary forces have been fighting elements previously aligned with the army of the new Republic of South Sudan, Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), in the oil-producing state of SouthKordofan which lies inside the north.
In a statement delivered to the UNSC on 22 July, Rice expressed her country’s deep concern about “alarming and credible allegations” of violence committed by SAF South Kordofan.
“These include acts of extreme cruelty and abuse against civilians that, if true, may constitute crimes against humanity – extra-judicial killings, house-to-house searches, abductions, arbitrary arrests, and violence motivated by differences of religion or ethnicity,” the statement added.
South Kordofan, which saw fierce battles during Sudan’s second North-South civil war, is home to the African Nuba population which largely backed the South and the SPLA. The state also borders Sudan’s western region of Darfur, a scene of a long-running conflict between the central government and ethnic rebels accusing it of marginalising the region.
The fighting, which is believed to have been ignited by SAF’s attempt to disarm SPLA Nuba fighters, has escalated into heavy artillery and aerial bombardment, leading to the displacement of more than 72,000 people, according to UN estimates.
A report prepared by the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) documented “especially egregious” acts committed by SAF during the fighting, saying they may amount to “war crimes and crimes against humanity” which merit investigations.
UNMIS report also complained that humanitarian access to the affected population was hampered throughout the conflict. It further accused SAF and its allied forces of treating the mission with “gross contempt and a total disregard” of its status as a UN body.
“The United States strongly supports an investigation by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights into these allegations and calls on all parties to provide unfettered access and cooperation to any investigation,” the US envoy said.
She went on to say that her country condemns “in the strongest terms any deliberate targeting of civilians, including UN humanitarian personnel.”
Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP) withdrew its commitment to a framework agreement it signed under AU mediation on 29 June in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa with the SPLM to deescalate the situation in South Kordofan.
President Al-Bashir openly faulted his negotiators for signing the deal and said that the SPLM must conform to the rules regulating political parties in the North. Thus, he ordered the army to sustain its operations in South Kordofan until it is “purged” and the SPLM’s leader Abdul Aziz Al-Hilu is arrested.
“We are particularly disturbed by the decision of the Government of Sudan not to honor the June 29 agreement on political and security arrangements in the region. These developments are deeply regrettable,” Rice said.
“Today,” she added “we call upon the Government of Sudan to agree to a robust UN presence in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile that will assist the parties as they agree to future political and security agreements.”
Rice’s call for the deployment of foreign troops in South Kordofan drew rebuke from the Sudanese government whose spokesman, Al-Obayid Muruoah accused the US envoy and other lobby groups of intending to instigate hostile actions against Sudan.
The Sudanese spokesman suggested that the call for intervention in South Kordofan might include a no-fly zone, stressing that the government refuses to accept more foreign troops in the country.
On allegations of a genocide committed by Sudanese forces, the country’s spokesman said that such “propagated claims were misleading and subjective.”
“Any talk on the government’s committal of atrocities or outlawed acts in South Kordofan remains an allegation without base and will not be taken into account,” AL-Muruoah said.
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