SPLM-N’s Aggar urges pressure on Sudan to cease bombing civilians, allow aid

October 11, 2011 (Sudan Tribune)

Malik Aggar, chairman of the armed opposition Sudan People’s Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N), has called for exerting pressure on Khartoum to cease aerial bombardment of civilians and allow humanitarian operations in Blue Nile State.

Aggar was the elected governor of Blue Nile until he was sacked by president Al-Bashir following eruption of clashes there on 1 September between the Sudanese army (SAF) and SPLM-N fighters.

Each side accused the other of starting the fighting which mirrors a similar one that erupted in June between SAF and SPLM-N combatants in South Kordofan State.

Both states border the newly independent state of South Sudan and their population largely fought alongside the south during Sudan’s north-south second civil war 1983-2005.

"There are basic things that we are asking for: one is for pressure to be exerted on Khartoum to stop the bombing of the civilians," Agar told reporters on Thursday at his temporary command headquarters in a rebel-held area of Blue Nile, as reported by Reuters.

According to Aggar, aerial bombardment, air attacks by SAF had claimed the lives of 74 civilians and injured more than 100.

"We are asking and demanding that they open corridors and safe areas for the humanitarian operations," he added.

Agar said that President Al-Bashir was using food as a weapon and said the "catastrophic" humanitarian situation needed swift intervention by the United Nations.

The UN Refugee Committee says in the last month over 27,500 people have fled Blue Nile to Ethiopia, where the agency this week opened a new camp to accommodate them.

"There are no safe havens for them because the main problem for them is Soviet-made high-altitude bombers. You just witnessed two of them hovering over us. The bombs were dropped on a village, not near any military installation," Aggar told Reuter’s correspondent who said he saw planes circle the area and drop bombs.

However, the correspondent said it was not immediately possible to determine the type of plans involved.

In response to Aggar’s allegations, the spokesman of Sudan’s Information Ministry Rabie Abdel-Aati told Reuters that 95 per cent of civilians living in Blue Nile were safe and the government was providing assistance.

Abdel-Aati said the government was not involved in bombarding civilian areas and that any demand for international humanitarian assistance could only come from Sudan’s government.

Agar urged the international community to push Bashir to negotiations, saying "wars end on tables." He reiterated the SPLM-N’s demand for talks mediated by a third party.

The Sudanese president, who overruled an agreement signed in June by his negotiators with the SPLM-N to recognize it as a legal political party, continues to reject third-party talks and ordered the army to “purge” South Kordofan and Blue Nile.

"I was an elected governor who was removed unconstitutionally, and our party was a party that ran elections with a considerable number of MPs, 128 of them are all in prisons," Agar said.

Sudan banned the SPLM-N as a political party and shut down its offices in Khartoum.

Aggar’s appeal for a negotiated settlement marks a departure from the positions expressed by his peers, namely the SPLM-N’s sec-gen Yasir Arman and SPLM-N’s deputy chairman Abdel-Aziz Al-Hilu who assert there is no option but to fight until the government is changed.


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