Militia attacks in Sudan’s South Kordofan State kill dozens ahead of sensitive polls
14 April, 2011 (Sudan Tribune)
Militias loyal to the governor of Sudan’s central state of South Kordofan, Ahmed Haroun, on Wednesday attacked three areas in the volatile region, killing at least 17 people and burning hundreds of houses as the state prepares to hold delayed polls in two weeks, according to the state’s deputy governor.
South Korodfan failed to hold polls as the country held nationwide elections in April 2010 due to disputes over the 2008 census and the subsequent delimitation of geographical constituencies.
The polls are now scheduled to start on May 5, after a new census was conducted and geographic constituencies were redrawn, amid concerns that the process may yield localized violence if it lacked legitimacy in the state which will likely produce most of Sudan’s oil after the south, whose oil accounts for 70% of the country’s proven daily output of 500,000 barrels, secedes in July.
Abdul Aziz Adam Al-Hilu, the state’s deputy governor, on Thursday claimed that the paramilitary Popular Defense Forces (PDF) mobilized by his boss and rival in the gubernatorial race, Ahmed Haroun, who is under indictment by the International Criminal Court on charges of organizing militia attacks that killed a myriad of people in the country’s western region of Darfur, attacked three areas in the state on Wednesday.
"Yesterday [13 April] his [Ahmed Haroun] (militia) were directed to attack civilians in El-Faid town. They managed to burn over 350 houses. More than 17 people were killed and the situation is very tense," Al-Hilu, who is a frontrunner in the state’s gubernatorial elections on the ticket of the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) in South Sudan, told Reuters.
"The Popular Defense Forces then went to Um Barmbita, 15 kilometres north, where they burned down all the shelters of the women who serve tea. And in Um Shuran, south of Kadugli, they went to an SPLM rally and started shooting in the air and chasing the people away,” Al-Hilu said as quoted by AFP.
According to Al-Hilu, his rival Ahmed Haroun and the dominant National Congress Party (NCP) in north Sudan are trying to scuttle the polls.
"Haroun is trying to prevent the elections from taking place... The NCP is planning to create insecurity, and we expect worse things to happen. But we are determined to continue the campaign and to win these elections," Hilu said, according to AFP, which also reported that the UN Mission in Sudan had dispatched patrols to investigate the situation in the area.
Meanwhile, South Kordofan’s security committee led by Ahmed Haroun issued a statement in which it denounced “the regrettable incidents” in El-Feid villages, saying that preliminary evidence suggest that they had occurred “in the context of local disputes characterized by tribal nature”
The state’s security committee promised to form an investigation team to probe the incident, and ordered a ban on carrying arms or wearing military uniforms except for members of regular forces in the state, including “the police, central reserves forces, Joint Integrated Units and armed forces.”
South Kordofan was the site of fierce battles during the decades of civil wars between north and south Sudan, with most of the region’s Nuba population siding with the latter which is due to split in July after it voted for full independence in a referendum conducted in January this year under the Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended the war in 2005.
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