Bashir, Aggar meeting fails to break stalemate over South Kordofan

August 22, 2011 (Sudan Tribune)

A meeting held on Sunday in the Sudanese capital Khartoum between president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir and leader of the armed opposition Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N), Malik Aggar, has failed to revive efforts to end the crisis in the country’s South Kordofan State.

The four-hours meeting, which was moderated by Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, failed to bring the two sides to agree to a resumption of talks on political and security arrangements in order to address the situation in South Kordofan.

Sudan’s army has been battling SPLM-N fighters since early June in South Kordofan, a geopolitical link with the newly independent Republic of South Sudan and Sudan’s western region of Darfur. The state has much of Sudan’s oil reserves.

The fighting, which erupted after Sudan’s army threatened to disarm SPLM-N which were previously aligned with South Sudan army, has so far led to the killing, injury and displacement of at least 200,000 people, according to UN figures.

In late June, as the fighting intensified and the warring sides appeared to be deadlocked in a military stalemate, Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP) and SPLM-N signed a framework agreement mediated by the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) led by former South African President Thabo Mbeki in Addis Ababa.

The deal provided for talks on cessation of hostilities and stipulated the integration of SPLM-N fighters into the Sudanese army and recognition of the SPLM-N as a legal political party in Sudan.

However, President Al-Bashir later overruled the agreement signed by his negotiator and presidential assistant Nafie Ali Nafie, and ordered the army to continue its operations in South Kordofan.

The president cited objection to the agreement’s recognition of the SPLM-N as a legal political party. NCP officials previously vowed not to allow the SPLM-N, which was a branch of the ruling party in South Sudan, to operate in Sudan after the south split, saying it would be considered an extension of a foreign party.

A press release issued on Monday by the SPLM-N’s secretary-general Yasir Arman explained that his group decided that the resumption of dialogue with the NCP was contingent on the latter’s renewal of commitment to the framework agreement and the mediation of the AUHIP.

According to Arman, the meeting failed to reach an agreement after Bashir insisted that the dialogue between the two parties be conducted directly and without the involvement of a third party.

Ethiopian Prime Minister pledged to continue his efforts to bridge the gap and reconcile views between the two sides, according to Arman.

The SPLM-N figure further revealed that Aggar had returned to Addis Ababa and held a meeting with him and the SPLM-N deputy chairman and leader of the rebellion in South Kordofan Abdul Aziz Al-Hilu to discuss the outcome of his meeting with Al-Bashir.

SPLM-N meeting had concluded “that the NCP is still not interested in a political solution and remain committed to the military solution which proved to be a failure,” Arman’s statement said.

Therefore, the statement goes on, the SPLM-N would remain committed to its position and continue the struggle for a just peace and nationwide democratic transformation.

He, however, reiterated SPLM-N’s commitment to seek a negotiated solution to the crisis in South Kordofan.

Meanwhile, it appears that the failure of talks in Khartoum has prompted the NCP to resume its hostile tone towards the SPLM-N after a short hiatus during which the party officials indicated readiness to seek a negotiated solution.

Addressing a conference on peaceful co-existence in South Kordofan’s state capital Kadugli on Monday, NCP’s Vice-Chairman Nafie Ali Nafie renewed commitment to defeat the rebellion through military means and accused Al-Hilu of waging a proxy war against Sudan on behalf of South Sudan.

Nafie pledged to defeat Al-Hilu and force him to leave the country in pursuit of a shelter elsewhere.

The NCP figure stressed that the government would not be defeated through “agents,” vowing to defeat his political and military campaign.

He went on to overtly accuse Al-Hilu of being supported by South Sudan.

“Our message to Al-Hilu and those behind him in Juba, America and Europe that the war that kills innocent people will not last and will be defeated in the upcoming period.”

Last week Khartoum agreed to let UN relief agencies into South Kordofan to assess food and relief supplies.

A UN report released this month detailed "extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests and illegal detention, enforced disappearances and attacks against civilians" in South Kordofan in June.

It also described the aerial bombardment of civilian areas in Kadugli.

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


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