SPLM-N distrusts Al-Bashir’s truce in South Kordofan

August 23, 2011 (Sudan Tribune)

The armed opposition Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) has voiced skepticism in reaction to a truce declared by Sudan’s president Omer Al-Bashir in South Kordofan State, saying the move aims to deflect attention from abuses and an imminent military offensive.

President Bashir on Tuesday unexpectedly announced a two-week unilateral ceasefire in the country’s southern frontier of South Kordodon, where his army has been battling SPLM-N fighters since early June.

South Korodofan, which straddles Sudan’s ill-defined borders with the newly independent state of South Sudan, had at least 200,000 of its citizens killed, injured or forced to flee their homes and land as a result of the fighting, according to UN estimates.

In late June, as the fighting intensified and the two sides appeared to be deadlocked in a military stalemate, the SPLM-N and ruling National Congress Party (NCP) signed a framework agreement mediated by the AU High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP).

The agreement provided for the initiation of ceasefire talks, integration of SPLM-N fighters into the Sudanese army and recognition of the SPLM-N as a legal political party in Sudan.

However, Al-Bashir later withdrew commitment to the agreement and ordered his army to sustain its operations in South Kordofan.

Bashir’s announcement came less than two days since he held a meeting on Sunday with the SPLM-N’s chairman, Malik Aggar, and in the presence of Zenawi in order to discuss revival of peace efforts. The meeting dissolved in disagreement as both sides failed to offer concessions.

Yasir Arman, SPLM-N’s secretary-general, believes Al-Bashir is "not serious" about his truce because he failed to mention this when he met Aggar 24 hours ago.

According to Arman, the meeting failed to yield results because the Sudanese president insisted on rejecting the framework agreement as well as the mediation of the AUHIP chaired by former South African President Thabo Mbeki.

"This announcement is an attempt to cover up human rights violation, genocide and ethnic cleansing committed by Al-Bashir’s forces in South Kordofan," Arman told Sudan Tribune on Tuesday.

Arman went on to point out that Al-Bashir announced his truce at the same time his warplanes were bombing civilian population in South Kordofan.

Wide-ranging atrocities committed by Sudan’s army and its allied paramilitary forces were documented in a UN report released last month. The report detailed "extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests and illegal detention, enforced disappearances and attacks against civilians" in South Kordofan.

The UN said the allegations, if substantiated, could amount to crimes against humanity or war crimes. The Sudan government labeled the report as biased.

The SPLM figure accused Al-Bashir’s government of blocking the flow of aid to the affected population in South Kordofan.

"Al-Bashir is using food as a weapon,” he charged, saying the ceasefire is essentially "a public relations stunt" intended to hoodwink the international community.

The Sudanese president also announced on Tuesday that no foreign aid organization would be allowed to access South Kordofan, dousing earlier agreement by his government to let six UN agencies into the troubled state to assess humanitarian needs.

Arman said that the genuine pursuit of peace in South Kordofan requires that the two parties return to the negotiation table but, according to him, Al-Bashir has ill intentions.

"On the contrary, Al-Bahsir is preparing for a major military offensive in south kordofan and he should not try to deceive anybody," the SPLM Secretary General said. He further stressed that the SPLM was just defending itself and the civilian population in South Kordofan.

He reiterated his movement’s commitment to a negotiated roadmap that accords priority to the conflicts in South Kordofan and Darfur and includes all political parties nationwide in order to create a national consensus.

"We met Al-Bashir and demonstrated our good intentions by supporting the mediation initiative of the AUHIP and Meles Zenawi," Arman said.

"The ball is now in Al-Bashir’s court," he said.


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