US calls on SPLM-N to join S. Kordofan truce

August 25, 2011 (Sudan Tribune)

The United States called on the northern sector of Sudan People Liberation Movement (SPLM-N) to join the two-weeks truce declared by president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir in South Kordofan this week.

The oil-rich state has been the scene of intense fighting between Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and SPLA since early June. Each side blamed the other for provoking the fighting.

UN estimates that at least 200,000 people in South Kordofan have been killed, injured or forced to flee their homes and lands since the fighting erupted.

A UN report this month documented wide-ranging atrocities it alleges were committed by the SAF and its allied paramilitary forces during South Kordofan’s conflict.

The report said that the actions could amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity, calling for an independent probe into the situation.

But as the fighting dragged on, Khartoum appeared to soften its stance and expressed readiness to hold talks with SPLM-N for a negotiated settlement.

Bashir has scrapped a framework agreement brokered last June by the African Union in Ethiopia that would have paved the way for a ceasefire.

He called on SAF to continue military operations and arrest the state’s former deputy governor Abdel-Aziiz al-Hilu who is also the SPLA leader there.

But on Tuesday Bashir unexpectedly announced a temporary ceasefire for two weeks.

The U.S. state department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland on Thursday said Bashir’s move is a positive one.

"This week’s announcement by the Government of Sudan to establish a two-week unilateral ceasefire in Sudan’s Southern Kordofan state is a positive initial step toward bringing stability and relief to those affected by violence since early June" Nuland said in a statement.

"The United States strongly urges the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North to show the same leadership and declare a two week ceasefire as well" she added.

The U.S. official added that "the parties must immediately return to talks to agree to a full cessation of hostilities and a resolution of the political future of Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile."

She said the voided agreement inked in Addis Ababa "is a strong foundation for these talks" and also stressed that Khartoum "must allow immediate and full access to humanitarian organizations so that they can provide much needed relief to the people of Southern Kordofan".

Bashir’s truce declaration was coupled with his instructions that no foreign NGO’s are to be allowed into the state.

Nuland further said that the US supports the call by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights for a full investigation of violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in Southern Kordofan.

"Those responsible for attacks on civilians must be held accountable for their actions" she said.

But today the Sudanese foreign ministry issued a statement saying that Khartoum rejects the UN report saying that it sought to reach a set conclusion through inserting "false" and "misleading" information and using a flawed methodology.

It claimed that non-existent localities were included in the report and that it sought to place the blame entirely on SAF while ignoring the other side.


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